The moment we never thought would happen (again) is here and I am ridiculously giddy about it. I remember how excited I was to get two new David Lee Roth/Van Halen tunes on Best of Van Halen Vol. 1 back in the mid-'90s and I love those tunes (shut up!). It looked for a moment Dave might really return to the fold but it was short-lived. Roth reunited with (most of) the band for a tour a couple years back but it never seemed likely there would be new music from the (mostly) original lineup of the band... and then there was.
A Differnt Kind Of Truth will be the first album of new material from Roth/VH since 1984 when it is released Feb. 7 and we now have a video for the first single "Tattoo."
What do we make of it? It's VAN HALEN! It's very self-referential in its construction and sound --for good or bad -- whether it's the "When It's Love" keyboards (Hagar era, yes) or the "Me Wise Magic" growl from a(n even) older Roth. The rhythm section is predictably boring (is that "Poundcake" I hear? What? Right... all the drum-n-bass bits are that unimaginative). Eddie's guitar tapping sounds like it did in '83.The solo isn't remarkably different than what we've heard him do before. Michael Anthony's ear drum-piercing shrikes are gone but we still get the doo-wop backing vocal stylings that were part of so many of the great, sleazy, campy singles of yesteryear.
Everything about this is vintage Van Halen which is great... except for the part where this is 2012 and not 1984. Roth was never the rangiest singer on earth but his range is even more compressed now. His shouts are now muted yelps. Lyrically, they are still sophomoric but a little more experienced if not necessarily wiser.
I kind of love this. Maybe I shouldn't but I just don't care.
I don't think VH could surprise me and I don't think I want(ed) them to. I've been waiting 25 years to hear what the followup to 1984 would sound like. This may not be that, but it's the next best thing and there are moments in this five minute rocker that are close to delivering that. They're not on a mission to evolve or reach new audiences, they're out to recapture the magic. It can't be done, of course. They're older and so am I but if Van Halen doesn't have to grow up, maybe I don't either.