It was all a horrible dream…

This has been a post a while in the making—one of the problems with writing the software that lets you post to your blog is that it puts you on the hook if something changes, and I wasn’t timely about handling that, so I’ve got some posts that have been stewing.

Anyway, It’s not without slight embarrassment that I admit that I like the new Van Halen album. It’s not great, mind you—it’s no Fair Warning, or frankly even a Van Halen II (what I think to be the weakest of their Roth-era albums)—but there’s a swagger, coupled with a wink and a grin, that is really fun to witness.

And I’m realizing that the reason is unequivocally David Lee Roth.

When 5150 first came out, I liked it a lot. And I suppose it’s not a bad album even now. And OU812 and even For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge are similarly not bad albums—but they lack a spark. Listening to them now, while the musicianship is great, the actual songs are…I dunno. They’ve become smaller than life; pedestrian; humdrum.

I guess at some level I recognized it even then. I never bought their last album with Sammy Hagar, Balance, or their one album with Gary Cherone, Van Halen III,

A Different Kind of Truth, on the other hand has plenty of flaws, but it also has lyrics like:

How many roads must a man walk down before he admits he’s lost.
And do you really, really drive this way
just to piss me off?

It’s inconsequential, but it’s not without a certain cleverness. The Sammy Hagar era was trying to be significant (one need only look at the lyrics and/or video to Right Now for confirmation), but David Lee Roth, if he tries at all, is happy to undercut it with a good laugh:

Like the ancient immortals said Don’t want ’em to get your goat
Don’t show ’em where it’s hid
But that’s just what I did

I’m not going to have it on infinite repeat for months on end, but it’s a fun little diversion, and it’s almost like the intervening 25 years never happened.

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Michael Alan Dorman

Yogi, brigand, programmer, thief, musician, Republican, cook. I leave it to you figure out which ones are accurate.