9 November 2013

David Lee Roth - Sonrisa Salvage (Wild Smile)

I've had some challenges in my life, but this is certainly up there. Only in the last few days has one of our bloggists Chris Jermyn decided possibly against better judgement to review the recently returned Van Halen frontman and showperson. The debut album of David Lee Roth is of course Eat 'Em And Smile which he recorded soon after he left the California outfit and Jermyn thought it was terrible as a whole. Now I have listened to it and, well, it's a bit scathing. I found it quite entertaining if rather twee, overglammed and confined to the 1980s. At least DLR had a trump card in up and coming Steve Vai, but even then before finding his feet he was blatantly carbon copying Eddie Van Halen with his hammer and tap on techniques with his fretboard. Five out of ten would've been my mark. Plus, I just don't get the meaning of his cover. Reminds me of the Voodoo Bond villain from Live And Let Die, Baron Samedi I believe unless some willing reader might want to correct me?

Now, remarkably at the same time Roth also recorded a virtually identical representation of  Eat 'Em in Spanish, and the burning question you're probably asking right now is...why? For one thing, translating albums is more common than you might think and there's always a danger of the wording being lost in interpretations. However for example, Queen's Greatest Hits was recently launched into the Iranian market as being an acceptable piece of music. You may also want to know it became the first official westernised album to be released there. Now the apparent reasoning behind DLR's toe dip into the Latino scene was for the appeal to the Mexican market which was an idea brought on by his bassist Billy Sheehan. Obviously with a limited grasp of Spanish, Roth needed lessons and help with transposing his lyrics, although he had to make some adjustments which I'll explain in good time.

Sonrisa Salvaje literally means Wild Smile and if you're expecting literal translations then say no more. Some of his raunchier lettering had to be dropped to avoid offending his 'adopted' fans and let me tell you, as a Spanish speaker having listened, I find it extremely embarrassing and right now I'm struggling to hold back my giggles. If you look up his new lingually challenging pages using Google Translator, then I think you'll agree with me that some of the wording beggars belief. It's not only inoffensive and lacking any kind of edge, but it's also the sort of childish language that even Dora The Explorer wouldn't use! The context is all wrong and everything is a mismatch.

Timido (Shy Boy) is a struggle to utter the words along with the pace. Plus he's saying aprovechame (take advantage of me) in place of available in the followup I'm Easy (Soy Facil), it just doesn't seem right even if Tito Puente volunteered with a bit of a cuban-esque salsa combo to spice things up. Then when I thought things couldn't get worse, he even translates the covers of the excellent Nashville Teens' Tobacco Road and That's Life, the Frank Sinatra classic, the chorus part is just not structured well and what else can I say but's an absolute disaster.

None of the backup group have rerecorded their instrumentation which I dare say would've redeemed the album but just slightly, only DLR altered the vocals for the album. Granted it's an unusual rock record, and I will concede it's a brave attempt from the Van Halen fella but a big thumbs down from me. Little wonder then that Roth abandoned any further Latino Rock attempts. Perhaps like me, it reminds you of the Monty Python sketch involving the Hungarian Phrasebook where the English interpreter twisted his words around causing a total raucous in the country. Sonrisa Salvaje feels two and a half thousand times even more disjointed and to me, esta un pedazo de mierda, but don't bother trying to translate that!

1 out of ten. You really are touching the bottom of the barrel here.
1 de 10. En verdad, eres alcanzando la parte inferior del barril aqui.

Don't ask me how I found it but here's the full "gringo" version on Deezer
Buy the Spanish version of Eat 'Em And Smile here on Amazon
David Lee Roth Official Website on this link
Steve Vai Official Website on this link

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