Written by / 3/31/2015 / No comments / , , ,

ROTH VAN HALEN MOVES FORWARD WITH TOKYO DOME LIVE

Release: 3/31/15 Grade: A–
Upon a progressively heated argument accidentally instigated by yours truly after comparing Sammy Hagar’s Van Halen songs to a beer commercial, the defender stated how much money those "commercials" made the band in their award winning second incarnation…

While the David Lee Roth era, according to this same person, seemed written by a 6th grader…

Well anyone that age who runs with the Devil and knows all about the little kids taking care of the music biz, taking whiskey home and pushing and shoving on the mean streets while dirty movies that you hear about later light up the sky where beautiful girls have drop dead legs, well hell, that's a kid to either hang out with or put in permanent detention…

Back of First LP
But whatever you feel about the old or new Van Halen, since 2007 the old became new again when groundbreaking guitarist Edward Van Halen, his drumming brother Alex and Ed’s son Wolfgang, replacing the bearded harmonizer Michael Anthony, brought Roth back into the fray – their 2013 album A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRUTH took bits and pieces of former riffs written either before the first 1978 self titled LP or added themes to movie soundtrack instrumentals from THE WILD LIFE… And while not original in that respect, TRUTH is mighty fine…

Second Album Cover
So now there’s the first live Van Halen with David Lee Roth on vocals, and already it’s getting bashed for his voice being not the same as before – reaching for the notes that were so easy and breezy way back when… Not like the lounge-laden Roth was ever incredibly ranged like Freddie Mercury to begin with; so there's not much to lose, really…

He always has been more of a talker with words than a singer, and his gin-soaked poetry still flows neatly as Edward Van Halen thunders through the lightning… In fact the entire album, TOKYO DOME LIVE IN CONCERT, sounds more like a perfect gritty import than a rough version of a glossy, digitalized modern effort...

Fifth Album Cover
Ironically, Van Halen didn't write the best track herein – Roy Orbison’s PRETTY WOMAN is the tightest, proving that when Roth sings a structured tune he keeps the vocals in check…

His downfall lies on the rambling stack of words he wrote in the first place; that much harder to take on now…

Certain times his voice sounds like he's just beginning to lose breath before finishing a run-on sentence, and, rushing words out before doing so has become the new norm... His lyrics, though, still shine: An existential surge of party life and eccentric womanizing brings the listener straight into the mainline while Sammy’s more “deep and meaningful” insight feels more learned than actually experienced.

OVER THE EDGE Poster
Other TOKYO highlights include new tracks CHINA TOWN and TATTOO and classics like WOMEN IN LOVE, I’M THE ONE, HOT FOR TEACHER, ROMEO DELIGHT and especially the Roth acoustic guitar turned into Eddie’s electrifying electric in ICE CREAM MAN while JUMP squeaks by like the encore it was born to be; DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY lacks the glistening boogie of the original track; and on SOMEBODY GET ME A DOCTOR, Dave needs a throat lasagne more than ever...

Eddie’s signature top hat ERUPTION is, alas, merely good but not great and sounds even better once his mesmerizing CATHEDRAL creeps in. And the album’s low-point is Alex’s drum solo, seeming like a Jamaican street musician who forgot to smoke a blunt... of the good stuff.

So why did they record a live album in Tokyo instead of combining various shows from all over the globe? Well how else would Diamond Dave prove he knows so much Japanese otherwise? His Master of Ceremony power is in top form speaking a foreign tongue. And if you’re wondering what a music review’s doing on a movie website, well, while the pulsating Kink’s revision of YOU REALLY GOT ME (showing Eddie's bluesy side on the live album) pumped life into the classic 1979 teen angst melodrama OVER THE EDGE... as Vincent Spano made out with the new girl in town with a jealous cigarette-smoking Michael Kramer looking on while Matt Dillon drank beer in the midst of the suburban bash... it can and will be noted that the classic original VH is to cinema what EDGE was (and still is) to youth – blending an eternal surge of nostalgic glory that’s as alive, kicking, boisterous and timelessly bombastic as ever. For what the voice lacks, the soul still carries.
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