Van Halen - 1984 (1984) Aug 18, 2012 14:10:29 GMT -5
Post by Erik Rupp on Aug 18, 2012 14:10:29 GMT -5
Three songs. That is what Van Halen's 1984 has it's reputation based upon. Three songs.
Granted, those are three great songs - three iconic songs - but just three songs all the same.
How about the rest of the album?
Well, the rest of the album is still pretty good. The songs range from fairly good to very good, without a single dud on the entire album. Of course, with an album this short (only eight legitimate songs and a moody keyboard intro) there better not be any duds! But if 1984's reputation were based on the other five songs how well would the album hold up?
Not so well.
If all eight songs were of the same caliber as, "Drop Dead Legs," or, "Top Jimmy," or, "I'll Wait," 1984 would have been seen (and would still be seen) as a huge disappointment. Again, they aren't bad songs - they're not duds at all. They're solid album tracks, but not as good as Van Halen's album tracks from their earlier albums.
"Girl Gone Bad," for example, is fairly similar to Led Zeppelin's, "The Song Remains the Same," (the song), but definitely gives it a Van Halen twist. It's a good song - very good, actually, but not as good as the non-single (non radio airplay) songs from albums like Fair Warning or Van Halen II.
1984 definitely saw the band in a musical transition from the earlier, rowdier, harder rocking band to the more melodic, tone down, keyboard heavy and radio friendly band they would become with Sammy Hagar fronting the group. "Drop Dead Legs," could easily have been on OU812 with new lyrics and vocal melodies from Sammy. It would have been one of the harder rocking tracks from that album, but it would have fit right in. And I know some people would argue that, "I'll Wait," should be listed among the iconic songs from 1984, but while it was a hit single it just isn't as good as the other three well known songs from this album. It is merely a good, fairly catchy keyboard driven semi-mellow song that would have been a good fit on those Van Hagar albums.
But the iconic songs that Van Halen produced for 1984 cannot just be dismissed because the rest of the album isn't up to the standards that the band set just six years earlier. Those three songs (for the record - "Panama," "Hot For Teacher," and the keyboard driven, "Jump) are all great. There's a reason why those songs are so iconic in Van Halen's catalog. They're catchy, memorable, and loaded with great riffs, melodies, and they all have an infectious energy that never grows old.
Ted Templeman and Donn Landee also did a great job of recording and mixing Alex Van Halen's drums and Michael Anthony's bass. Eddie's guitar? The level's right, but the tone is a little too midrangey. That is, in the grand scheme of things, a minor quibble, but 1984 seems to be an album of both iconic songs and minor quibbles. There is that dichotomy to the thing - it's both great and iconic on one hand, and on the other it's almost going through the motions and losing what made the band great in the first place. Almost, but not quite.
Ultimately, 1984 was a success (artistically - we all know it was huge commercially), and deservedly so.
Awwww... hell. With songs as iconic as those and no real duds I can't legitimately give this thing less than...