A Different Kind of Truth (2012)


1. Tattoo
2. She's the Woman
3. You and Your Blues
4. China Town
5. Blood and Fire
6. Bullethead
7. As Is
8. Honeybabysweetiedoll
9. The Trouble With Never
10.Outta Space
11.Stay Frosty
12.Big River
13.Beats Workin'


 

As I'm writing reviews for the last several Van Halen releases, I'm noticing a trend: It's becoming impossible to write each review without giving a sordid history of the band up until the album that I am reviewing. I guess that's rock 'n' roll. So here's the scuttle butt on the VH story as this one was being released.....

David Lee Roth is now officially back in the band. Although when he initially joins (probably about 2 or 3 years before this album, I honestly don't remember), the band only plans on touring, which is absolutely fine with the mass legion of fans. They've been waiting for this reunion for quite some time. Except it's not really a reunion. It seems that Michael Anthony has been officially given the pink slip. Why? Who knows. My guess is that he was friends with Sammy Hagar even after he was kicked out, and God forbid anyone dare socialize with an enemy of Edward Van Halen. Not surprisingly, it's Edward's teenage son, Wolfgang, that takes Anthony's place. Permanently. I'm guessing he was about 16, and didn't even look like he had started shaving yet. But, hey, at least now Dad has control again. A bit sad when you realize that Edward Van Halen, at one time or another, has fired everyone in this band that wasn't related to him. So 'Junior' is now in for touring, yet the touring schedule seem to be a mucked up mess. It seems like dates are cancelled, shows are postponed, fighting is still going on, Edward is being treated for alcoholism, and on and on and on.....

When this album came out, it almost came out of nowhere. I don't think anyone, anywhere knew that the band was even in the recording studio, and it definitely surprised everyone. Remember, in the age of the World-Wide-Gossip-Net, stories about a reunited Van Halen simply don't slip under anyone's radar. Anyway, the general consensus was this was a good, solid, record. Not perfect, but good. And solid.

First, though, Michael Anthony, believe it or not, really is missed and you can hear his absence. He had a trademark tenor voice that, when accompanying whoever the lead singer was, gave the band a distinct sound in the vocal department. When I hear a great song on this album such as She's the Woman, I can only imagine how much better it would have sounded had Anthony accompanied Roth with some killer harmony. (side note: When they toured with this lineup, Sammy Hagar made waves accusing them of piping in Anthony's voice into the songs being played live) He also seemed to have a pretty heavy bass line that, although monotonous at times, you knew was unmistakingly Van Halen. Then, well, let's face it, it had been 28 years since the last Roth album, and even had Michael Anthony been allowed to play, you really couldn't expect them to sound exactly as they did back in the glory years. All of the Roth albums had Ted Templeman as their producer, and he gave the band a very lean, yet clear sound that always sounded like the albums were made with effortless effort and that they were started and finished over a weekend. That style is missing here. The sound is very straight-forward, heavy, and party-infused, but it just sounds a bit over mixed or something. About halfway through the record, it's easy to begin to get a headache. Again, though, times have changed.

Then you had the issue of all of the songs being older songs that the band apparently demoed before they even had a record deal. As Roth would later state (and I'm sure this ticked Eddie off), that he was disappointed that 'they didn't write any new songs' for this album. To most, though, that really doesn't matter, as the songs for the most part are very solid. You almost have to wonder, how come these songs never were released?

Roth still has his tongue and cheek humor, and there are plenty of sexual innuendos etc., but for the most part, thankfully, he's grown up and is acting his age. He really hasn't lost anything in the vocal range, or at least anything he should have lost, being it's been so many years. And, yes, Edward can still play some mean chops on the guitar, but as mentioned, they don't stand out as much as you probably wished due to the production and the mixing.

Anyway, they still toured, which was the main thing. To be honest, I'm not holding my breath for any new Van Halen material anytime soon - perhaps never. This one tied me over quite well, though, and you almost have to wish that if they have more unreleased tunes hanging around, that they would do the same thing with them that they did with this one.

I'm sure the Van Halen Soap Opera is nowhere near over, however. They'll be plenty more drama somehow, someway. Just wait.

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