Van Halen – 1984 (1984)

Keyboards and Van Halen? Sounds a little odd when put to work. But Van Halen was onto a winner here. It seemed like a perfect fit for the time and was the last album in Van Halen’s original David Lee Roth era.

It’s a great album from start to finish, second only to the self-titled debut album by Van Halen. Let’s check out this album, track by track.

We begin with the introductory 1984. No guitars, just some very 1980’s keyboard sounds. It’s a great way to kick off this album. Soothes the soul well indeed.

Next up is the most popular Van Halen song ever Jump. It features some great keyboard playing by Eddie Van Halen, some subdued guitar playing as well and David Lee Roth’s holler, which is very good. It sounds great. Armin Van Buuren remixed this song recently, which is just as good as the original. A pop classic.

Panama follows and features Eddie Van Halen’s Kramer 5150 guitar, which he built himself in the Kramer factory. It’s a great rock song with some great lyrics: “Model citizen, zero discipline.” It has some great singing from Diamond Dave. An awesome song.

Top Jimmy has some great harmonic based guitar parts, before launching into an interesting song about a rock star. “They love it when he rolls his eyes” indeed. It has some truly great guitar work by Eddie Van Halen here. A good piece to listen to.

Sex aplenty in California arrives with Drop Dead Legs. It’s a strange fetish, but one which is covered well here. This is likely the dirtiest sounding album from Van Halen and certainly shows it off here too. Drop Dead Legs is laugh out loud funny. Keep the feminists away from this one, for sure.

The next song is the classic Hot For Teacher. Yes, you read correctly. It’s a great story without any morals whatsoever. Just listen to it and laugh out loud to the story here. But musically, it’s great too. It is one of the fastest Van Halen songs too but done so well.

I’ll Wait is a keyboard lead song about a creepy pervert. The Van Halen crew obviously lacked morals here, but without that in mind, it sounds like a weird love song. Either way, it’s effective here as well.

Girl Gone Bad continues our tales of lust without love. It’s a good song about a girl who does something along the lines of stripteasing for a profession. It’s an interesting topic, and very macho sounding indeed. The outro is fantastic.

Lastly, House Of Pain talks about S&M more out there than The Velvet Underground ever did. It’s a great song about the topic and ends the album nicely. A great listen.

This album is a classic from start to finish. It truly sounds great in every way, and cemented Van Halen as rock legends. After this, David Lee Roth left and Sammy Hagar joined the group, making a different direction for Van Halen. But despite all that, this is a great album and not a bad song is here.

9/10

Sammy Hagar – V.O.A. (1984)

1984 was an anticlimax year for those who thought that George Orwell’s prediction would come through via his best selling 1984 book. It was also a build-up year for the trashiest of 1980s commercialized keyboard music. Additionally, Ronald Reagan was re-elected yet again in the United States. But ironically, along with Van Halen’s 1984 album recording, this album is the best of rock music in that year.

It defined the times and also has aged very well over the years. Sammy Hagar had cut himself a successful solo career, although one which is difficult to find on Spotify or Soundcloud. This album is worth hunting down if you can find it. It’s a very good listen.

It leads off with Sammy Hagar’s biggest solo career hit I Can’t Drive 55. It’s such a catchy pop/rock piece that it has caused many crazy drivers around the world to break speed limits to this song. It’s a great song and brilliant for Sammy Hagar.

The next song Swept Away is about finding one’s first true love and being swept away by it. Sammy Hagar delivers his famous high octave vocal delivery fantastically here, “One night, yeah and I am hooked on you!” Great for a song that wasn’t as popular as some of his other solo work.

Rock Is In My Blood is a celebration of what makes Sammy Hagar a great rockstar. It’s more downtempo but still delivers well. With such a voice, it puts all the other tobacco chainsmoking rockstars to shame with such great sounding vocals on this record. Sammy Hagar is not a tobacco smoker by any means, to this day.

Two Sides Of Love points to the ups and downs of a love based relationship. It’s a nice ballad and points out that in love one can never be too careful with a love based relationship. Sammy Hagar may have been hinting at his own troubled love life at the time of recording this song.

On the other hand, Dick In The Dirt talks about a dude called Richard who just likes to get some without being aware of the consequences. It is a little weaker but dirty and nasty. Hold onto your trousers gents when listening to this one gents.

The title track V.O.A. blows away every other rock singer of the time and points out that he truly was and is the voice of America. Even David Lee Roth of Van Halen could not muster up the sonic ability that Sammy Hagar had here, and does very well indeed with the extended vocal part at the end of this song.

Don’t Make Me Wait shows that love is not patient at times, and although it slows down, it doesn’t bore with the message. It flows nicely on the album.

Burnin’ Down The City is about putting on a great rock show. Sammy Hagar was and is capable of doing so, and this song finishes a very good and listenable album.

This is not Sammy Hagar’s best solo album, but it comes very close to being that. Even then, it’s fantastic listening for a rock album of the 1980s. Shortly afterwards Sammy Hagar began singing much more pop-like songs in Van Halen after that group lost David Lee Roth. It’s better to remember him this way, the songs are just fantastic and have energy and consistency throughout. For those who love Van Hagar and want more, check this album out.

8/10