Diver Down (1982)


1. Where Have All The Good Times Gone!
2. Hang 'Em High
3. Cathedral
4. Secrets
5. Intruder
6. (Oh) Pretty Woman
7. Dancing in the Street
8. Little Guitars (Intro)
9. Little Guitars
10.Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)
11.The Full Bug
12.Happy Trails





 

The fifth Van Halen album in five years has the boys going in a radically different, almost 180 degree turn from last year's Fair Warning. Whereas that album had the guys trying to go in a grittier, more serious direction, this release has them in non stop silliness. It's not fair to actually call this a party album, since for the most part this record is cleaned up and is much more 'PG' rated than just about anything the guys ever did. They're simply having clean fun, and whereas the diehards may scoff at its aloofness, it works quite well overall.

About half the stuff here is covers of other's material, and about half of that is so out of character for the band, you can't help but notice the frivolity of the whole experience. Songs such as Dancing in the Street and (Oh) Pretty Woman are instantly recognizable by everyone, but the band manages to stamp their personal brand on the tunes, so they manage to add just enough of their personality without sounding overly sleazy. You can't help but laugh on some of the other tracks such as Big Bad Bill (which would be very characteristic of Roth's soon-to-be solo career), or the accapela closer Happy Trails, which could only have been thought of after the consummation of several alcoholic beverages. Strangely, all of this works very well. Van Halen was always at its best (with whatever lineup) when they chose to not take themselves too seriously. Since the craftsmenship of this record is so immaculate, it's forgivable when they don't quite rock as hard as some might wish.

The group penned numbers on the album are overall very strong as well - even if they're sadly overlooked. Particularly good is Little Guitars, which actually had the makings of a pretty good single and Hang 'Em High, which is heavy enough for maybe those who don't like the album overall to perhaps find a bit of encouragement. Sometimes, their indulgences can wear a bit thin, though. Eddie Van Halen seems to always have to put some sort of brief, instrumental excursion on many of the early records, and his Cathedral isn't particularly memorable. Something about an instrumental guitar song trying to replicate the sound of a church organ just doesn't quite do it. Intruder is pretty impressive, though. It's one of the few 'dark' pieces here, and it oddly makes a great segue way into (Oh) Pretty Woman.

Of course, they went on a mammoth tour (I think it was called the 'Hide Your Sheep' tour), and they once again delivered the goods. Like Fair Warning, this one's predecessor, you didn't have to really care that much about the album to enjoy the band. And the guys just kept right on delivering.

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