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Photo by Robert Yager

David Lee Roth speaking own language with Van Halen


It’s impossible to be hyperbolic when it comes to David Lee Roth because the dude is hyperbole zipped up in a man suit.

Seriously, there’s no compliment that we could pay him that he probably hasn’t paid himself already – and done so in far wittier fashion, no doubt.

And so we don’t hesitate to call Roth one of the greatest hard rock frontmen of all time, what with the elastic-groin leg kicks, the four-octave range capable of shattering the windshield on an 18-wheeler and the ability to look better in leopard print than any damn jungle cat.

But maybe best of all is the guy’s vocabulary, a wide-ranging bonanza of self-invented terms.

To better understand Roth’s grammatical genius, we thought we’d help out with a glossary of freshly minted words and phrases that Roth has come up with on Van Halen’s latest record, “A Different Kind of Truth,” his first with the band in 28 years.

Now, some have criticized the album because it includes a few reworked songs from the early ’70s that date back to the origins of the group, but that’s exactly why it kicks ass: It’s vintage Van Halen, full of wild-eyed guitar solos that sound as if they were played by a six-armed robot, tectonic drums and of course, a big, sticky, sweat-slicked smorgasbord of hornball double entendres from ol’ dirty-minded Dave.

But, to fully appreciate the record, you need to learn how to speak Roth’s language.

Here are a few helpful definitions of Roth-ese to get you started:

■ Mousewife: A demure, button-down married lass. Clearly, a woman in need of some release. Hmmm, wonder who might offer their services here? (Roth frantically waves arm in air like the pointy-headed kid in class the teacher is tired of always calling on.)

■ Momshell: A sexually attractive female who has produced offspring. Roth is to these gals what a wolverine who’s just finished fasting for Lent is to a buffet of baby chicks.

■ Stone soul sistah soccer mom: See above. Starting to see a theme here? Well, at least Roth is chasing after women in the vicinity of his age. Plus, if things were to develop further, Roth would make a bitchin’ stepdad – at least until it came time for parent-teacher conferences.

Teacher: Have you seen junior’s grades?

Roth: I brought my pencil! (Winking, pointing to codpiece.) Gimme something to write on!

And then she leaps up on her desk and tears her clothes off, inexplicably revealing a powder blue bikini and a beauty pageant sash.

Hey, we don’t make this stuff up.

Van Halen does.

■ Thunder thong: A female undergarment of some sort. Sounds vaguely menacing, doesn’t it? With connotations of angry skies and malevolent cloud formations. This is what occasionally gets exposed when a slutty storm front bends over.

■ Garage-a-Trois: A three-way next to boxed up Christmas ornaments and underused gardening equipment? C’mon, Dave, that’s how spiders get it on.

■ Despocrat: A shady politician. Perhaps Diamond Dave should show ’em how it’s done in our nation’s capital and run for office. His campaign slogan: It’s time for change! (And by “change,” I mean your clothes. While I’m watching. But only if you’re a hot chick. Or a momshell.) On second thought, that might be hard to fit on a yard sign.

■ Muchacha-miga: A new way of attempting to say “girlfriend” in Spanish. Apparently, Roth enjoys going south of the border (need to say those last four words while making air quotes and chortling knowingly).

■ Face grenade with the sex pin pulled: A deadly weapon of carnal devastation about to explode. This is what Roth envisions himself as.

Call in the bomb squad!

Or, better yet, your mom.


Read the original article here!

Van Halen a howlin’ escape


The year was 1982. I was 18, and a couple of younger guys had asked me to sing in their band.

Their idea of a lead singer was Roth, the bad-ass blond howler from Van Halen.

I loved Van Halen, but I could not scream like David Lee Roth. I tried – it felt like swallowing an exploding cigar.

About the same time in Minnesota, before she knew me, my future wife, Metalgirl, frizzed her blonde hair into a massive chemical heap. She donned boots fringed with goat fur, flipped off pimply teen geeks and turned up the Van Halen cassette in her white Camaro.

She was a headbanger. She loved Van Halen. She and her best friend, Metalchild, went to all the concerts. They saw the band live, at its sweaty, silly MTV peak.

And they loved Roth. They were card-carrying Dave Slaves – the fangirl phrase of the time.

Cue the present, 30 years on: Metalgirl and Metalchild are about to take over our house for a grand reunion. They give orders. They demand food and wine. I’ve added extra insulation, installed caution tape and alerted the neighbors.

Metalchild is flying in from Minnesota and we are going to see Van Halen play the Tacoma Dome this weekend. We will drive to the Dome in the Soccer Taxi – the minivan with the dog kennels in back. We are rebels.

We’re taking Guitar Kid, the teen prodigy and heir to Metalgirl’s prized possession, her Precious: a souvenir Eddie Van Halen guitar pick, acquired three decades ago and preserved in a temperature-controlled chamber beneath our home.

The metal women saw Van Halen at the pinnacle of the Roth era. They brag that one on me. I never saw the band in the old days – I just listened.

Van Halen saved my sanity in Alaska. While Metalgirl and Metalchild dolled up and went to concerts, I worked summers at a salmon cannery in Bristol Bay.

The job was terrible: picture wet, ancient assembly lines pumping out cans of salmon by the acre, workers standing 14 hours at a stretch in soggy rubber raingear, and everything stinking of fish guts. The town wasn’t much better. No paved roads, one convenience store selling suspicious fried chicken, and a whole lot of rain, mud and tundra.

Workers lived in a barracks at the cannery. You worked, ate, collapsed into a crummy bed, got up and did it all over again. The cafeteria specialized in salmon.

Music was the only escape. I owned a Sony Walkman, the iPod ancestor. (Portable! Headphones!)

The creepy convenience store carried cassette tapes, including Van Halen’s first album. I bought it for one song: “Jamie’s Cryin’, ” a lumbering pounder with a good hook. I didn’t know any other songs. From the first notes of the first cut, the tape blew my head off. I’d heard big guitars before, but this one sounded 20 feet tall. Eddie Van Halen played so fast, impossibly fast – yet it was still music. His guitar cackled. It laughed.

I played “Eruption” for my dad when I got back from Alaska – the hall-of-fame solo that made Eddie’s name, a series of lightning-quick runs, explosions and skyrockets. Dad scoffed and told me to listen to Al DiMeola.

Over the top of the band, Roth ran his mouth, belting demented macho lyrics punctuated by ridiculous patter, a running stand-up routine. An interviewer once told him most critics preferred Elvis Costello. He shot back: Most critics looked like Elvis Costello.

The band was funny. They didn’t bother with demonic poses. They were anything but serious. They were beach boys, but bigger and louder. A song packed with giant guitar riffs could stop for 30 seconds of genuine singing.

They could slide into metal-injected punk (“You Really Got Me”), then shift into pure pop (“Dance the Night Away”). Every album came with an Eddie solo, a little piece of virtuoso picking. I played one of them (“Cathedral”) over and over, learned it note for note on piano. Eddie made the guitar sound like an organ.

The typical hair-band lead singers sounded like they’d inhaled helium. Roth was different. He growled. He screamed like a coyote. Plus, the girls liked him – very useful knowledge for a teenager.

The geeks among us – the Rush fans – couldn’t understand why girls weren’t interested in them. Metalgirl explained the pecking order to me years later. The milky guys in Rush T-shirts were automatically rejected. You couldn’t dance to Rush.

By the time I met Metalgirl, Roth and Eddie Van Halen had split. We played the old songs and ignored the new lead singer. His name was forbidden in our household.

We waited long years for the reunion, for the good stuff. Metalgirl snagged tickets for Saturday’s T-Dome show within hours of the tour announcement. She spotted the new line of tour T-shirts, and sent me a pointed email that identified her selection.

Guitar Kid knows about Eddie Van Halen. I’ve played him the best cuts. He flicks his fingers around the quick runs of “Eruption.” Not bad, he admits, though he sniffs a little. It’s old, nothing special. Guitar Kid is sophisticated. He likes Joe Satriani and Jesse Cook. In rebellious moods, he’ll opt for Kurt Cobain. He’ll attend the concert for educational purposes, but he vows to be unimpressed.

After years of trying, I figured out some of the Roth screams. You start by imitating a cougar, then add wolf. It still makes me hack. Eventually, I found an alternative: imitate Ethel Merman. This actually works.



Van Halen review: Hot for Tulsa

Thirty years on, Van Halen proves it can still put on a show.


“Diamond” David Lee Roth’s trademark caterwaul may not carry the same range it did 30 years ago, but who cares? It came close. Tuesday night’s Van Halen tour stop at Tulsa’s BOK Center proved it.

Van Halen was back. Fans came to hear the original, and Roth helped give it to them. Each dressed in black, family band Alex (drums), Wolfgang (bass) and Eddie Van Halen (guitar) joined Roth for close to two hours of hedonistic rock anthems.

Roth and Eddie Van Halen often played off each other, Roth’s trademark yawp a call-and-response ritual to Eddie’s throbbing guitar riffs.

“I’ll Wait,” “Girl Gone Bad” and “Romeo Delight” melded with “Hot for Teacher,” “Panama” and “Jump.” They rocketed through their famous covers of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me,” Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman” and John Brim’s tasty “Ice Cream Man.” Every album was represented, though not every hit: “Hear About it Later,” “Dance the Night Away,” “Runnin’ With the Devil” and “Beautiful Girls” all made the set.

Roth, dressed in black leather, sequins and studs, had his high kicks projected large onto a two-story-tall screen. He kicked, he spun, he twirled his mic stand, he slid, he did the splits, he karate-chopped air, he cracked wise, he changed wardrobes, he postured. He reveled in pomposity.

The fans wouldn’t accept anything less. He delivered.

“I see a lot of really young kids here tonight with their parents for their first concert,” Roth said. “And I just want to let you know, this music is the reason a lot of you exist today!” he added as the crowd cheered.

Van Halen recorded two of my favorite albums: 1980’s “Women and Children First” and 1984’s seminal “1984.” The former’s a win for the unusual dexterity between its ego-blasted mix on drum, bass, vocals and guitar and the latter for its front-to-back endurance, its integration of modern electronic sounds and unabashed rock radio viability.

Both are groundbreaking in their swaggering, heady, heavy sound. Eddie Van Halen’s technique is legendary – dynamic and startling. His solos are less noodling than they are rabbitholes into an aural other dimension.

Tuesday night proved fertile terrain for Van Halen classics. During “Everybody Wants Some!,” Roth’s creepy-guy spoken-word lyrics, “This stuff isn’t going out on the Internet, honey. No. It’s just a couple of pictures. … I like the way the line runs up the back of the stockings,” became a catcall to the outrageous sexuality of rock ‘n’ roll itself. Alex Van Halen’s tribal beat electrified Wolfgang Van Halen’s detonating bass and Eddie Van Halen’s freewheeling guitar. The crowd became one with the rhythm, bouncing and singing in unity.

Van Halen’s new studio album, “A Different Kind of Truth,” dropped Feb. 7 on Interscope Records, and the first Roth-Van Halen since “1984.”

Tuesday’s concert included new music “Tattoo,” “She’s the Woman,” “The Trouble with Never” and “China Town,” packed near the front of the set, the new like a collaboration with the past – a time vehicle for with what people really came to see, which is the music that helped propel its album sales past the 75 million mark and define American rock ‘n’ roll.

Kool & the Gang opened the show with its 11-member set, funky and energetic with a roster of its classics, including “Fresh,” “Tonight,” “Too Hot,” “Get Down On It,” and “Celebration.” The bright, brassy trills and plucky bass runs of “Jungle Boogie” got fans screaming, on their feet and clapping their hands.

The band was reportedly chosen to open this tour by Roth himself. It thanked him by playing “Hollywood Swinging,” a tune Van Halen covered in its earliest days. Indeed, these are the songs almost everyone knows the words to, and they don’t necessarily know how or why.

Yes, it is an odd pairing for an arena tour, but the genre-bending time-warp readied fans with timeless music, and, to a certain extent, helped suspend reality. Kool & the Gang wrapped the arena in an envelope of nostalgia.

Read the original article here!

Van Halen play Madison Square Garden, New York, NY. March 1, 2012. / Photo taken by Robert Yager


Van Halen and Kool & the Gang celebrate good times in Nashville

By Dave Paulson |

Much of Nashville’s 2012 concert calendar seems to pose the question: Why have just one giant rock act play your arena for a night, when you can have two?

When Def Leppard returns to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena in July, they’re bringing hair-metal favoritesPoison along for the ride. Modern rockers Godsmack and Staind share an arena bill next month, and aKISS/Motley Crue co-headlining tour will fill the room to the brim with over-the-top rock in September.

Leave it to Van Halen — and a stroke of strange genius from frontman David Lee Roth — to buck the trend. When the band brings its highly anticipated 2012 tour to the arena tonight, they’ll be preceded by 50 minutes of funk from R&B hitmakers Kool & the Gang, the unlikely opening act on nearly all of the tour’s dates through June.

The odd coupling raised eyebrows around the world when the tour was announced in January — and Kool & the Gang founder and bassist Robert “Kool” Bell says he was caught off-guard, too, when Roth personally invited the group to join them on the road.

“I knew the songs ‘Jump’ and ‘Dance the Night Away,’ ” he recalls, “but as far as them wanting us to be a part of the tour, I was surprised.”

As it turns out, Roth had seen the group perform at England’s Glastonbury Festival in 2011 — where they had a crowd of 60,000 dancing to “Celebration,” “Get Down On It” and other hits — and hatched the plan from there.

“David had told me while we were rehearsing, ‘Kool, I don’t know if you know this or not, but our fan base is 60 percent ladies. And you guys wrote the song ‘Ladies Night.’ You were the party funk band of the ’80s, and we were the party rock band of the ’80s. Why not? Let’s go out and have a party.’ I said, ‘Let’s go!’ ”

Bell and company haven’t looked back since the tour kicked off in Louisville, Ky., in February, when they took the stage with a hint of trepidation.

“How are the people going to react?” he remembers thinking. “Are they going to get into it or are they just going to look at us?’ ”

Luckily, the hard-rock crowds have uniformly warmed up to Kool & the Gang, and Bell says that’s due in no small part to the women in the audience, as Roth had counted on.

“They’re ready to party,” he says. “They’re looking around at the guys that came with them, and saying, ‘What’s the matter with you?’ (laughs). ‘You better go ahead and get down on it!’ So the ladies bring the guys to the party. … By the time we get to ‘Celebration,’ we have the audience sing the second verse. If they don’t know anything else, they know ‘Celebration.’ And then the energy level’s up for Van Halen.”

Other hits find particular favor on this tour: raucous funk classic “Jungle Boogie,” which was memorably featured in Pulp Fiction, and the guitar-driven, “Beat It”-esque “Misled,” which Bell says earns a lot of converts in the crowd.

“They’re kind of like, ‘Oh. These guys can rock a little bit. They’re not just the disco band,’ or whatever they thought we were.”

Bell and his band also will leave this tour with a slightly different perspective of the hard-driving rock Van Halen has excelled in — he calls Eddie Van Halen “John Coltrane on guitar.” And though Kool & the Gang has already shared bills with everyone from Def Leppard to Herbie Hancock, Bell has a feeling that fellow performers and concert promoters may have a new opinion on just how broad the band’s appeal is.

“I’ve just been on the phone with Jason (Scheff), the lead singer and bass player in Chicago, and he was saying that their camp always said that that formula would work,” Bell says. “Now maybe they’ll wake up and see that it’s about the music. It’s not about what charts you were on, etc. It’s about the music.”

Read the original article here!

Kool & the Gang open for Van Halen at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on April 27, 2012.

Check out Perry Julien‘s photos from Van Halen’s show last night at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga.—atlanta-ga.html


Van Halen at Amway Center

by Jim Abbot


Concert review: Van Halen at Amway Center
Concerts — posted by jimabbott on April, 12 2012 10:47 PM

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Van Halen is on the road behind a new studio album, its first with singer David Lee Roth since the MTV glory days.

The new release, “A Different Kind of Truth,” is a solid collection of songs, if not transcendent enough to compete with the classics. Of course, Van Halen’s devoted fans haven’t let that detail interfere with analysis of every derivative chord pattern and guitar riff.

On Thursday at Amway Center, the band’s current lineup of Roth and the Van Halen boys – guitar god Eddie, his bass-playing son Wolfgang and drum-pounding brother Alex – downplayed the new material. “A Different Kind of Truth” was represented by less than a handful of songs in a 1 hour, 45 minute set that emphasized old favorites.

“Runnin’ With the Devil,” offered in the opening moments, hasn’t lost much swagger since its unveiling on the band’s self-titled 1978 debut album. Although the sound-mix submerged the arrangement in a muddy pool of bass and drums, Eddie’s solo still soared on wings of intricacy and power.

Even more impressive, the modest offering of new songs dovetailed effectively with the proven commodities. “Runnin’ With the Devil” segued into “She’s the Woman,” another platform for the lead guitarist’s virtuosity. Later, the frantic “China Town” yielded more flamboyant shredding. Who cares if it was hard to decipher what Roth was singing – or was that merely shouting?

In front of the band, Roth sported a sensible hair-cut and basic black leather, a less garish outfit than the ringmaster garb he wore at the band’s 2008 show at the old Amway Arena. He seemed less physically demonstrative, though he executed his leg kicks, spins and poses with style. He also complained about being too cold because of the arena’s air-conditioning, which was odd.

Not all the new songs were winners. “Tattoo” is another showcase for Eddie’s guitar, without enough substance to make it worth the effort. On the positive side, the band shrank the arena (which had noticeable patches of empty seats in the upper bowl) with a massive stage-length video screen that made the musicians larger than life.

When Van Halen turned to its signature songs – and when Eddie took the spotlight alone for his extended solo – the music had a similar stature: “Oh, Pretty Woman,” “You Really Got Me,” “Dance the Night Away,” “Hot for Teacher,” “Panama” and “Jump” turned back the clock without missing a beat.

Speaking of nostalgia, Kool & the Gang opened the show with an energetic 50 minutes, laboring valiantly to spark a party vibe among the early birds. Alas, a booming sound mix undercut the impact of oldies such as “Fresh,” “Too Hot,” “Hollywood Swinging” and the obligatory “Celebration.”

And Van Halen? The band is still worth celebrating, a truth that isn’t much different after all these years.

Van Halen: The Greatest Rock Comeback Of All Time?

By Richard Johnson

Queen are headlining this year’s Download Festival with American Idol singer Adam Lambert. Black Sabbath were due to reunite until drummer Bill Ward decided he wanted some more money. The Beatles were the sixth best selling artist or group last year, just above Paul McCartney.
In the midst of a time where classic-rock is making a huge comeback (or is reminding us that it never really left), one of the greatest hard rock bands of all time has decided to rear its head and show its teeth. They were announced at every show as “The MIGHTY Van Halen!”
Ah, Van Halen. The band that has gone through three lead singers, eleven studio albums, eighty million records and millions of fans – have only recently broken their fourteen year silence (their last album released in 1998). If anything, this ten tonne bomb of an album, A Different Kind of Truth (Interscope), didn’t just break their silence, it utterly destroyed it.

28 years after the last album with David Lee Roth, A Different Kind of Truth is exactly the album Van Halen fans wanted: “Selfishly, we don’t want Van Halen to evolve, we want them to pick up where they left off.” (VHND) The most gratifying aspect to the new VH record is the combination of old and new styles, putting a contemporary edge onto the romanticised sound of their early days. Fans were originally critical that a number of songs on the album were cut from 70s demos that have been circulating the internet for years, but the band have added a 21st Century sheen to these old demos, and have skillfully reworked them. Most importantly, they have given rock fans a lesson in history – this is how to do a comeback album. Subvert all expectation and blow the minds of anyone who cares to listen.

Lead single “Tattoo” ( was retrospectively a strange choice to announce a return to the rock podium. A mid-paced bluesy number that is more reminiscent of Roth’s solo material than anything done by the band before, yet due to the trademark guitar licks from Eddie [Van Halen, guitarist], it punches well above its weight. It wouldn’t sound out of place within the top 40 – the underlying, oozing synth, charming harmonies and dense, double tracked vocals gives it a contemporary sound, but doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the much harder-edged material on the record.

The first demo-remake of the album and current single, “She’s The Woman” ( provides a viewing of Roth’s abilities as a lyricist – “This suburban ménage e trios was worth exploring” – and the delivery and enthusiasm more than make up for any weak images in the song. Here we view a tight-knit group that are, thankfully, extremely comfortable with classic sounding material.
The band’s new-found comfort manifests in the fact that the album is strikingly efficient, taking a more smash-and-grab approach to the song content than in previous records. It’s heavy, uncompromising and unashamedly rooted in the knowledge that this is high-octane fan service. The aggressive, bold approach ties in with the blueprint found in their classic material. Whilst many songs adhere to the intro-verse-chorus-solo method, there are some surprises left up Eddie Van Halen’s sleeve after all these years. “As Is” ( starts with a jungle-drum introduction that harkens to “Panama” (1984) (, and leads into a heavy, crunching riff that tips its hat to the band’s 90s material – before you know it, the riff speeds up ten-fold and Eddie attacks fast, loose and in a constantly unexpected way. Following this, “Honeybabysweetiedoll” ( is perhaps Van Halen’s greatest homage to their heavy metal and hard rock influences. Roth’s vocal delivery is deep and masterful, and the harmonics squeezed out by Eddie are sustained in an extremely satisfying way.

Perhaps the greatest feat for the band was getting the production right. The guitar and vocals ride high in the mix, but the punchy, deep bass tones give a balance to the album that has never been heard before on a VH record. Traditionally, production on Van Halen albums has suffered from tinny trebles and a distinct lack of anything low end – but fortunately, no longer. This is helped by new bassist Wolfgang Van Halen [Eddie’s son], who definitely holds more than just a pocket groove. He has improved exponentially since the last tour (2007-8), and if the tapping intro on “China Town” and bass breakdown of “Beats Workin’” is anything to go by, he certainly has the talent of his father.
It must be remembered that these guys are pushing 60 now. Their maturity has shown through their music, yet they’ve also come to the vital understanding that most of their fans have grown with them. A Different Kind of Truth isn’t just a great comeback record, it’s a quintessential rock album that any music lover should own.

Read the original article here!


Van Halen rocks the Sovereign Center

By Dustin Schoof | The Express-Times 

Iconic hard rock band Van Halen stopped Monday night at the Sovereign Center in Reading.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band behind such classic rock hits as “Jump,” “Runnin’ With the Devil,” “Panama” and “Hot for Teacher” took to the stage in support of their recently released studio album, “A Different Kind of Truth.”

“A Different Kind of Truth” is the group’s first studio album with original singer David Lee Roth since “1984.”