After the first two albums by Van Halen, the group decided to take a little step into more uncharted sonic territory. The group worked cohesively at this point, superegos were not as present as they were in later years of Van Halen. Eddie Van Halen, in particular, knew that he needed to make the music of the group sound original, and unlikely to be imitated. After the brilliance of the self-titled Van Halen album and the leftovers put onto the not as brilliant Van Halen II, Eddie saw the need to innovate.
Fortunately, as a result, this is one of the better Van Halen albums. The songs are raw, loud and variable enough to excite any music fan or guitar player. It’s a good listen this one, let’s dive in and hear what it sounds like.
We kick off with And The Cradle Will Rock… which has a trippy riff in it. It’s not a guitar riff, it is actually Eddie Van Halen playing a Wurlitzer keyboard through his Marshall amplifier. But the song is brilliant, David Lee Roth pulls off singing here so well. Many fans after hearing this would say, Sammy who? The guitar solo is fantastic, a totally underrated and energic song even today. It’s about a loser and a dropout, interesting subject matter.
The sexual classic Everybody Wants Some!! comes next. It’s hilarious and frank on the matter, with Eddie playing some interesting sounds on the guitar over brother Alex’s pounding drums. It’s a tasty listen. “You can’t be romantic on a subway line, conductor don’t like it, says you are wasting your time.” Gold, a great and underrated David Lee Roth era Van Halen song. Eddie’s guitar solo here is great, putting all the Van Halen wannabes to shame. Great stuff. The outro is very humourous indeed.
Fools begins with some blues influences in Eddie’s guitar playing, and David Lee Roth singing raspy melodies, a nice way to start the song. Eddie was and is a fantastic, original and ingenious musician. This stomp like hard/heavy rock groove-based song is just great. The song is not a hit single sort of thing but still sounds like a good song forty years later. It’s a good song to hear, and the rhythm of this song is excellent. The descending riff in this song is great, too.
Romeo Delight is a typical David Lee Roth sort of song. It’s about sexual desire of the male kind. It’s definitely a 1980s party tune here. Van Halen was very popular at this time, and so would have been songs like these. It is an excellent song that rocks hard and has a great approach to it. The breakdown which is slightly more subtle than you’d expect sounds oddly sexual and romantic at the same time. It’s a great listen. It sounds chaotic at the end.
Next is Tora! Tora! which is a brief linking instrumental going into the next song after it. It’s not designed to be skipped, it is listenable so it has its place here.
The song linked up is Loss Of Control, a take on science fiction-like culture. At the time, the like of Star Wars and other films made that particular movie genre popular. So it’s no surprise that Van Halen covered this issue in an original song. Great and interesting effort. It’s very fast and comes at manic speed, worth hearing for sure.
Take Your Whiskey Home is an interesting song, almost put into the perspective of an old wive’s tale. It then burst into a cool midtempo number which is one of the hardest rocking numbers on the album. It’s interesting and awesome. David Lee Roth sings this superbly, he was undoubtedly a great singer back in the first Van Halen stint he had in the group. Lots of wicked tapping is prevalent in Eddie Van Halen’s guitar solo as well.
Could This Be Magic? is a great tale led by acoustic guitars and talks about an adventurous romantic ideal during night. The album title comes from this song, and it has some good acoustic slide guitar here. Eddie Van Halen had a great vision on the musicality of Van Halen at this point, and in many ways, was unbeatable. Eddie is likely one of the best guitarists since Jimi Hendrix, arguably.
Lastly, we have a song In A Simple Rhyme. It’s another tale of love/lust and the free spirit of sexuality of the male kind expressed on record. It’s a nice tune mind you and finishes the album on a high note. A good listen. The backing vocals and crashing guitars make this a powerful listen. Oh yeah, the extra bit at the end is quirky.
This is a really great album to hear. Van Halen was pushing the musical boundaries of their craft and they deliver here very well. If you like the Van Halen album or the 1984 album and still crave more David Lee Roth era goodies, this is your next best bet.
A great album.