This album is underrated from a Van Halen perspective. Out of the first six Van Halen albums with David Lee Roth as singer, this is one of the best of these releases and simultaneously ignored by most listeners. This can change right now, from this review. So let’s have a listen and see why this is so.
We kick off with the brilliant intro to Mean Street. It has Eddie Van Halen playing some truly kickass guitar, with the rest of the band following him musically. David Lee Roth talks about a nightmare neighbourhood in a lower social/economic area, and which tests people’s courage and convictions. Great stuff, sounds good to this day. The guitar solo is a shred fest, a nice listen in itself. It goes subtle towards the end, with many musical elements to it that are just brilliant. Good listening.
Next is the X-Rated piece Dirty Movies with some weird slide guitar at the start of it, amongst other riffing by Eddie Van Halen. It then goes into a raunchy piece about what the title says. “Pictures on the silver screen, greatest thing you’ve ever seen,” is sung in the chorus. This is male chauvinism to the nth degree and made before political correctness became a social value and norm. Not to please women at all, but males will enjoy this one. Good song regardless.
Sinner’s Swing! comes next and talks about devilish deeds towards women, once again. It’s pretty hardcore in terms of lyricism, but the whole piece is a very good effort. Great listening and Eddie’s guitar solo is just mint. The whole group at this point was extremely productive, compared to nowadays where they have unofficially retired. Great and wonderful listening. Diamond Dave really kicks ass here.
Hear About It Later has a slightly warped sounding intro with EVH playing some cool guitar riffs, before the rest of the band enter the scene. It’s about being a male gigolo by the sounds of it, which perfectly suits the group and David Lee Roth in particular. Musically, it sounds dark and menacing for Van Halen, but hey, it’s a brilliant listen just like the songs before it. Awesome rock and roll. The guitar solo sounds weird but good.
Next is the classic Unchained. It has a well-played and catchy riff from Eddie Van Halen and is a great party sort of tune. It is clear that David Lee Roth is a true champion of rock gods to this day. There is a neat twist during the middle of the song, listen out for it. It’s an excellent listen, and an underrated one at that.
The next song Push Comes To Shove is about severe relationship issues, beginning with a liquid bass riff and David Lee Roth demanding cigarettes and alcohol before going into rock god mode. A quality and musically quirky listen from early Van Halen. The guitar playing here is really good on this recording, showing that for a guy who used such a simple setup, Eddie Van Halen could play in a variety of styles. Quirky and interesting listening. It fades out with David Lee Roth singing in a soulful way. Brilliant.
So This Is Love? is the question of true love, by early Van Halen. It’s a good subject matter to hear about and features some truly great singing by Diamond David Lee Roth. Everyone else in the band is on top form as well, this is such an underrated listen until now. Make it a priority to give this music a listen. True love set to music? You be the judge, a great song regardless.
Sunday Afternoon In The Park is pretty dated sounding for an instrumental. It’s Eddie Van Halen playing keyboards with Alex Van Halen playing drums. Still, it is a quirky listen and not disappointing, it’s just odd in a satisfying way. Good stuff. It merges into the next song and last song on the album.
Lastly, One Foot Out The Door is more love/sex themes from Dave and there is some fast and precise drumming from Alex Van Halen with some more keyboard playing by EVH. It is fast and furious and Eddie reveals himself to be likely the best guitarist in the world at this point. Fresh and inspired listening.
As mentioned before, this is an underrated gem. It’s one of the better Van Halen albums out there in their back catalog. Great playing and great listening, and set Van Halen to be likely the biggest band of the decade. Especially for David Lee Roth fans, this is a keeper.