Van Halen: A Different Kind of Truth

The new Van Halen album is out. In fact it’s been out since Feb 7th but I just got off my ass and got it yesterday. I saw Tattoo on the internet in January and thought it was OK but wasn’t blown away by it. My VH concert tickets arrived the other day though so I figured I better get the new CD so I’ll know what’s going on when they play this stuff live. So I ventured down to the music store here in Bloomington – yes we still have an actual STORE that you can walk into and purchase CDs! I made a quick lap around the place and found the Van Halen section. There were only 2 copies left so I grabbed the Deluxe Edition and headed for the register. After some idle chatter with the tattooed cash register hottie I was back in my Explorer and on my way.

After listening to a few tracks my first thought was why the hell did I wait to pick this up? A Different Kind of Truth is a Different Kind of Album – especially for 2012. Back in the day when MTV still played music videos and Van Halen ruled the roost there was SO much Van Halen it seemed they were everywhere. Eddie’s revolutionary guitar playing spawned a generation of wannabes. So if you weren’t hearing actual VH on the radio or MTV you were probably hearing one of the many clones. 

So as I sat down in the basement listening to ADKOT on the home theater surround sound the biggest impression I got was this was an album that should have been released in 197x something or other. Sure the production is slick and all of that but this above all else IS a 70s heavy rock album.

If you wanted to hear fire breathing guitar solos and machine like drumming you have come to the right place. But Eddie is so much more than just a speed demon. Alex is more than a caveman beating on some skins. These guys really are masters of their art. Individually they have all received accolades: Eddie was generally recognized as the best guitarist in rock, Alex the best drummer and Dave was the greatest frontman. Does Dave hit all of the high notes? No and he rarely did back in the day either.

However, the total here is greater than the sum of the parts and the parts are still pretty damn good 40 years later. Of course some critics will point out that some of these songs were demos from before the band was signed. And to that I say who cares?!? These tunes were probably great back in the club days and they are great now. That’s the thing about a great song – it doesn’t matter when it was written. A song is either great or it isn’t. People wanted old VH and by God now you have it. And there’s nothing wrong with old Van Halen thank you very much.

I’ve read a couple of interviews with Dave and he acknowledges that they are extremely fortunate to still be making records and touring. Can they keep it up? As combustible as this band has been over the years you don’t really know how long this thing will hold together and keep going. Another album and tour is by no means a lock. My advice is to enjoy it while it’s here; you never know when Eddie will retreat to his mansion. Next time he might be gone for good. This album is much better than I thought it was going be. If you enjoy 70s arena rock, then by all means go get A Different Kind of Truth and of course crank it to 11!