Van Halen - 1984
Warner Bros. Records
Classic Hard Rock
9 songs (33.23)
Release year: 1984
Van Halen, Warner Bros. Records
Reviewed by Aleksie
In honour of the latest double-disc compilation and the tour-reunion of the greatest rock band in human history (yeahyeah, I know, its with Hagar and not Roth…doesn’t bother me too much, you see), the classic section calls for none other then one of the greatest hard rock records of the genres golden age, the 80s – and of all time if I am questioned on the matter. Coincidentally, this year also marks the 20th anniversary of this slighty-over-half-an-hour of pure rock divinity.

After five records ranging from immortally time-changing to very good, the VH boys saw a time for a bigger change in the bands sound. The hard rocking rhythms, blistering guitars and party-hardy vocal acrobatics of Roth were fused with the synthesizers and pop elements of AOR bands like Journey. Synths were already audible earlier even on Women And Children First, but on 1984, they took a commanding role on many songs – a huge risk when you think about the puristic nature that your average rock fan can have. But this was a gamble not taken in vain, that could be seen by the end result that this album has since become. Sales in excess of 15 million worldwide, classic tunes that still hold on as radio staples today and even critical acclaim – not a feat usually reserved for the party-rock bands of any given era.

After the title-track-synthisizer-intro comes the most excellent four minutes (and four seconds) ever put on tape by man or beast. This is as much for personal reasons as it is for the excellence of the track. Jump, my personal pick for the greatest song ever, was one of the first songs in my childhood that stuck to me on a steady basis and one of my first favourites in times when my biggest accomplishment to date was the ability to say "mommy". Since then, the song has not lost any flair or brilliance, only gained more so. The catchier-than-anything-else synth riff (I would even go as far as to claim that this riff beats Paranoid and SmokeOTWater – its that BIG to me), the chorus, the upbeat feeling, the mind-blowingly melodic and awesome guitar and synth solos by Eddie – it all comes up to sheer perfection. Every time Im in a bad mood and need some cheering up, I put this track on and instantly start leaping off couches with raised spirits. This song has healing powers, dammit!:) Im not the least bit surprised if more hard core-metalheads shun the song for the “soft” feeling in it. Granted, the synth-domination in the song is very poppy, but here the pop is crafted to a perfect balance with the rock. Even Roths vocal-howls sound better then ever. It is just so perfect that words crumble in front of it. A review of this one song would take the space of an entire review from me if I wanted to, so I will refrain. Just simply put: Rock-divinity!

And for every hard-eared amoeba who dares to resist the catchy popish hooks on the beginning, there is always the second lead single Panama to knock you down for the count. One of the finest riff-storms in a hard rock-format, the blistering lead, gang choruses, mellow bridges that build the driving choruses – THIS is how rock music should be made 101. A song about a sensual car never sounded this good. Yup, a car. You see, DLR and the boys got fed up with the flower-hat-grannies complaining about the not-so-chaste lyrics of the band, so they decided to stuff it in their faces. They made a sexist song about a car. Brilliance, this is how fun should be expressed in music.

Top Jimmy keeps the speedy rocking up and Drop Dead Legs proceeds with some mid-paced, even dancable grooves before Hot For Teacher brings out the motorcycle-esque double-bass drums as Alex gives the beat for one the most frenetic and fast hard rock tunes ever to grace a stereo system. Again the catchy lyrics, the magnificent musicianship and cooky attitude all sum up like never before. The beats on this song alone prove that Alex Van Halen was no slouch behind the skins either. Squeeze the essence of “party” into four and a half minutes of music, and you’ve got Hot For Teacher. Ill Wait is straight-out pop song with mainly synths and drums (and stupendous guitar solo), but can still provide a very enjoyable song if one doesn’t mind more of the softer side of VH. Girl Gone Bad and House Of Pain round up the album with the best that Halen can offer – powerhouse rockers with the killing riffs and sizzling solos that only the king and maestro, Eddie Van Halen can provide, along with the always clever and UN-shameful poetism of David Lee Roth. Everything wrapped up in a top-notch 80s production and you’ve got yourselves a rock classic. For a good time and the best party-music around, this is one of the essential records.

Whew, now how´s THAT for hyping up and worshipping a band? Minor apologies for all the folks who get easily tired of overtly praising a band. For me, Van Halen is just more then a band, its an entity of its own in the universe. From this album on, the band faced a big change after DLR hit the solo circuit and former Montrose pipeman Sammy Hagar stepped up to the plate. For many, the Van Halen they know and adore ended with this classic, but for me, this was merely a crossroads to new grounds. I shall return with Van Hagar era discs in the coming months, but for now, I recommend you all to either keep enjoying or find out about one of (THE for me;) the greatest hard rock bands to grace this planet. And also…….I might as well jump *JUUUMP*……..

Killing Songs :
Every second Of The Audial Celebration And Party That Blasts Out (preferrably at full volume)!
Aleksie quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Van Halen that we have reviewed:
Van Halen - A Different Kind Of Truth reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 95 / 100
Van Halen - Best Of Volume I reviewed by Aleksie and quoted no quote
Van Halen - Van Halen III reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 40 / 100
Van Halen - Balance reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 72 / 100
Van Halen - Live: Right Here, Right Now reviewed by Aleksie and quoted no quote
To see all 15 reviews click here
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