Van Halen – 1984: Review

1984

Produced by Ted Templeman
Label – Warner Bros

It’s unlikely that an album with an emphasis on macho posturing, direct references to the female form and seductive teachers would see the light of day in the politically correct new millennium. But 30 years ago, particularly Stateside, these types of references were the currency that rock and metal bands built their adolescent fan base on. Lead singer David Lee Roth was unapologetic of his party persona and alleged championing of numerous “ladies”, resulting in lyrics that positively show that the blood had definitely left his head when he wrote them. “1984” is a time capsule of the shape of rock music as it was; bigger, bloated and irony free. Van Halen never took themselves seriously and there’s probably something endearing in that, particularly for the younger fan, but this album will undoubtedly be remembered for the music rather than the meaning. Having battled with band (particularly Roth) and producer for a number of years, guitarist Eddie Van Halen finally got his way and introduced synthesizers to their arena filling sound.

van halen

Three of the nine songs would be synth led and of these, “Jump” would become the biggest hit of their career. The camp classic perfectly bridged the gap between pop and metal, with added attention seeking promo video and seemed a world away from their humble 1978 rock roots. “Panama” continued the chart momentum, but harked back to previous recordings with its thunderous riff and booming rhythms. The obvious tensions that were building between Roth and Eddie Van Halen are well hidden for the sake of artistic professionalism and well versed producer Ted Templeman executes a deft understanding in highlighting the band’s skills. Guitarist Van Halen is allowed ample space to demonstrate his trademark finger tapping and dextrous harmonics. The remainder of the album lies very much in the shadows of the two major hits. The synth heavy ballad “I’ll Wait” shows that even the introduction of new technology can’t enhance a very average song. “Hot For Teacher” would have never drawn attention without the well known accompanying video, and lyrically Roth is at his most juvenile as he clumsily attempts innuendo (“I brought my pencil.Give me something to write on, man!”).

If you can divorce your consciousness from some of rock music’s most ridiculous lyrics, there really are a couple of phenomenal pop/rock jaunts to savour. It’s just a pity that the highs are so sporadic.

6/10

Track Rating
1 – 1984 6
2 – Jump 9
3 – Panama 9
4 – Top Jimmy 6
5 – Drop Dead Legs 5
6 – Hot For Teacher 6
7 – I’ll Wait 5
8 – Girl Gone Bad 6
9 – House Of Pain 6

Jump

Panama

Hot For Teacher

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