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Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth – review

A lot has gone on in the world of Van Halen over the past 35 odd years.  Singers came and went, and came back again, and left again…and came back once more.  A Different Kind of Truth marks the first full album of recorded material from a David Lee Roth fronted Van Halen in 28 years…yes 28 years.  They released their first single Tattoo and I can only describe the song as vomit inducing, which really A) disappointed me and 2) made me think, here we go again.

Van Halen has bitched, complained, and made garbage music for the past 15 years, and I was bracing myself for an exposition in failure once again.  One thing came to my mind while listening to the album as a whole…why in the world would they release a song like Tattoo, which is clearly the worst song on the album, when they have so many other great songs to choose from.  No this is not 1984 or Van Halen I, or II, but it is David Lee Roth back in the saddle and that says a lot, and even in his old age we can feel and hear that David Lee Roth of old.  We get those choice Eddie Van Halen riffs from so long ago, and Alex Van Halen pounding on the drums.

The album produced by John Shanks sounds like it was plucked out of 1982.  Shanks and Van Halen were smart enough not to try and re-invent the wheel, or Van Halen once again for that matter.  Just let VH be VH and rock yo’ face off.  Songs like She’s the Woman, You and Your Blues, and especially As Is could sit comfortably in the track-listing of the first two Van Halen albums.  A song like Big River or Outta Space should have been tapped as the first single, who’s pulse pounding rhythms have Van Halen throwing it’s middle finger in the air once again saying we’re back, and we’re not f@$kin around.  A lot of the songs off A Different Kind of Truth came from demos Eddie was working on back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, and you can sense the urgency and pounding speed riffs in a lot of these songs, and his son Wolfgang who plays bass, more then hangs with these seasoned vets, offering up some youthful freshness.

Van Halen I and II are classics and 1984 is one of the greatest hard rock albums of all time in my mind.  A Different Kind of Truth may not be anywhere near those, but it is a taste of that Van Halen of old that the whole world fell in love with, and when you’re pushing 60 that’s really all that one can ask for.  There’s not really any truly great songs on the album, but there is a ton of solid songs that are worth multiple listens.   For the avid Van Halen fan this one is not going to disappoint…except for that damn Tattoo song.

Grade:  B