2 August 2015

Van Halen - Diver Down


Call me cynical or naive, but isn't a new rock or heavy metal as it was called back then, band supposed to release their own stuff? When exactly did they become a covers band? Well - by 1982 apparently. Eddie van Halen and the folk who put up with him - namely his brother - whom he appears to have tolerated.

But I digress. If you were to grab a whole bunch of cock swinging big hair strutting high riffage tracks and slap them on an album including oodles of covers, this would be the result. Some covers are successful, some not so much. I enjoyed these guys when I was younger, the music is joyfully exuberant and uplifting, cheeky, swaggering and energetic. It’s catchy. But I didn't pay much attention to the lyrics. If you want a deep soul searching album which pushes the boundaries of expression, and delves into the depths of human experience, this ain't your band. And maybe that's not such a bad thing....

I pretty much wanted to end there, what is there more for me to say? But the side of me that wants to dig for details, that was pummelled into a compare/contrast critique approach via various academic ventures wanted to Google. So I googled, and clicked on an Ultimate Classic Rock article 2015.

Writer Matthew Wilkening defends Diver Down by explaining that although its a hastily recorded collection featuring only four original songs, and should therefore be a disaster, turns out to be 'just about the most fun thing you can play at your next summer family picnic.' http://ultimateclassicrock.com/van-halen-diver-down-turns-30/

Well yes if you want to educate your children into the mindset that it’s only looks and 'good time girls' that matter and that the big men pull out the best riffs... Ah what the hell at least it’s not One Direction.

The speedy production etc was apparently due to David Lee Roth convincing the group to release Pretty Woman cover, and as this was then a hit, Warner Brothers pressured them to record an album.

According to the vhnd.com 2010 Roth had wanted Eddie Van Halen to do Dancing in the Streets, but Eddie chose Pretty Woman, as it fitted his (Eddies') preferred use of riffs.  They were finishing up a tour for their fourth album, and this hadn't given them much time to create new tracks. I think they used some lyrics/riffs collated from experiments and ideas a few years prior-but I can’t remember where I read that. Either way it’s got to have been a bit of a bummer all that pressure after a tour, they could have said no I suppose, but once you've got a taste of fame and fortune. Especially fortune.

Chart Type info:

Recorded and released in 1982 at Sunset Sound LA Warner Brothers Recording Studios Categorised as Hard Rock Heavy Metal produced by Ted Templeman.  Diver Down managed to reach platinum in Canada in 1982, No. 3 in Pop Albums Chart, and 4x Platinum in the USA.

And they'd been pretty busy: According to Wiki they released an album a year from 1978 to 1982 this including tours. They seemed to calm down after that, with one album out every 2 years 1984-1988, and then more spread out after that. Their most recent releases A Different Kind of Truth 2012, and Tokyo Dome Live in Concert 2015.

Favourite Track: No 3. Cathedral is an instrumental which is pretty captivating and No. 4 Secrets which is a good track, not too much screeching from Mr Roth, and has interesting lyrics.

Fun with Flags: The Diver Down flag is a scuba flag used on the water to indicate there is a diver below, the red and white is used in North America-internationally its white and blue. There we go-perhaps an addition to (The Big Bang Theory) Sheldon Cooper's show.

Artist's insights: Dave and Eddie Discuss Diver Down http://www.vhnd.com/2010/03/31/dave-and-eddie-discuss-diver-down/ - click on the link to read their interview.

They state they made the album in 12 days and it gives a piece about what each of them thought on each track-pretty interesting stuff actually-good to get their feedback especially more of their reflective opinion-hindsight being a wonderful thing.

This reluctant Blogger's reflection: I suppose that unless an album is independently funded, you're going to get conflicting agendas. If that agenda is remaining in the charts and getting a nice pay cheque, well it was their full time job I suppose so they needed to listen to Warner Brothers.

I admit, I have changed my mind about this album, or perhaps more accurately I remain in two minds about this album.  I started off thinking it was arrogant of Van Halen, and essentially Warner Brothers, to expect fans to swallow only 4 original tracks and then a bunch of covers. I had thought it was rushed, that it didn't have enough thought given to its creation, although essentially it has cohesion in terms of style and lead singer. But then I suppose if its what you want to hear, if it brightens up your day, and you're not particularly bothered that its been shoved out there simply for a company to make the big bucks, then fair enough. It’s okay actually.

I give this album 6 out of 10 - Now I see where you were going, but not quite there

(My 15 year old self would have given it 9 out of 10 (Almost perfect, almost....) because, well, Roth).

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Van Halen website here

You can follow the activities of Van Halen on Facebook here

You can stream the album on Spotify here 

You can stream the album on Deezer here 

You can stream the album on Tidal here 

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