by Tina Saul /MetalTalk.net
Van Halen have been in the press a lot over recent months, with tour dates announced then cancelled, dates not announced but cancelled, the whole Download Festival anticipation letting down all the UK fans, and then the widespread disappointment of the release of ‘Tattoo’.
People were saying it was a joke, and die hard fans instantly recognised the striking resemblance to the previously unreleased 1977 track ‘Down In Flames’. In fact, one fan has mashed the two songs together with the video, so you can see just how close it is for yourself.
Was reworking their early songs a big shock to everyone? Quite frankly it was, but the signs were there. Rewind to November 2011 and in an interview with Rolling Stone, on hearing rumours that Van Halen had signed a record deal, Sammy Hagar said: “From what I heard, they aren’t working with new material. Ed and Dave didn’t actually write new songs. They took old stuff from previous sessions, and then maybe Dave had to go in and add vocals because they just had scat vocals, or even no vocal part at all.”
I have to say he’s right, but to be honest with you, I would rather hear rehashed late 70s work, than some attempt at becoming a band of this era. Let’s face it, there aren’t that many bands that can take the leap from century to century after such a long absence, so I’m thankful that they have so much stuff to work with from their early days.
I almost skipped ‘Tattoo’, the first track on ‘A Different Kind Of Truth’, after not being overly impressed at launch, but listening to it on a stereo vs. YouTube gave it justice and I’m glad I didn’t press that button. Then when ‘She’s A Women’ kicked in I couldn’t help but smile. It’s the Van Halen I know and love and instantly made me want to be out dancing to it with the groove laden sound, and a chorus paying homage to the soundtrack of my favourite TV show from my youth.
‘Stay Frosty’ is to this album what ‘Ice Cream Man’ was to their debut album ‘Van Halen’, ‘China Town’ showcases Eddie Van Halen’s widely respected fret-work and ‘Blood And Fire’ is the kind of track that will see your fist pumping the air, regardless of whether you want it to or not. ‘Outta Space’ is by far the heaviest track on the album, and ‘Big River’ has a very similar feel to ‘Runnin’ With The Devil’.
Michael Anthony wasn’t invited to the party, well he was ejected back in 2006 to be replaced by Eddie’s son Wolfgang, which is a real shame as his backing vocals are definitely missed, but that’s my only criticism with this album.
‘Tattoo’ is the weakest track of them all, so I find it an odd choice that they released it as the debut single. Maybe they knew it, so wanted to spark discussion and get the buzz and anticipation going for what was to come?
Who knows, but more importantly who cares? This album is a pleasure to listen to, featuring all the things you would expect with a Van Halen album, and should be on your list of must haves if it’s not already in your stereo. It may take a couple of listens for you to fully appreciate it, if your expectation was initially soured by the first video, but stick with it.
Now come on Van Halen, let’s get that extensive tour over to Europe please, to see how this truth translates to the big stage.
by Tina Saul /MetalTalk.net