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VAN HALEN – A Different Kind Of Truth

| 3 October 2012 | Reply

Label: Universal Music
Released February 2012
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

It’s finally here – the Van Halen brothers’ first album since 1998’s Van Halen III – and their first with Diamond Dave Lee Roth since 1984 – has finally landed and in less time than it takes to recite the names of all the guitarists to have contributed to the recording of “Chinese Democracy” we are acutely aware that this is old school Van Halen, and a million miles removed from the bland over-produced mundanity on that justifiably maligned Axl & friends record.

Snippets and teasers posted online over the past few weeks really didn’t do the album justice – some of these songs need room to stretch out and move around, they’ll grow on you – songs like ‘China Town’, ‘Big River’ and ‘Beats Workin’’.

First single and album opener ‘Tattoo’ is another which took a while to show off it’s stuff – not as immediate as you might have hoped for after a 13 year absence, it takes some time for the melody to burrow into your brain, before settling in for a long stay.

Edward and Alex Van Halen excel, as expected, with some virtuoso playing that is 2/3 reminiscent of the Diamond Dave early days, while 1/3 reminds us of the Van Hagar years. Seeing as these songs are all reworked from old demos, rather than newly written material, this is hardly a surprise.

Where the album really excels are in the immediacy of ‘She’s The Woman’, ‘Ýou and Your Blues’, ‘Outta Space’ and ‘Stay Frosty’- the latter a sort of ‘Ice Cream Man’ part two. Roth’s lyrics are clever and witty, and hell – ‘Bullethead’ itself even sounds like it could have come straight off one of his better solo albums!

Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddies son and the band’s current bass player, does his best, though it’s uncertain whether he plays on the whole album or whether Dad is lending a hand. Either way, Michael Anthony’s backing vocals are sorely missed – their absence underlying how important a part of the VH sound they actually were.

To summarise, “A Different Kind Of Truth” is far better than most were expecting – and very much a worthy addition to the Van Halen catalogue. Heading out on tour around The States this year, we can only hope they finally do get down to Australia, and if they do hold themselves together for long enough to make another album, it’ll be interested to see whether they again rely on old demos, or whether they write new material – and what THAT would sound like…

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Category: CD Reviews

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