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Van Halen's biggest selling album still sounds great 28 years on,
This review is from: 1984 (Audio CD)
California based hard rockers Van Halen's sixth studio album entitled 1984 (a/k/a MCMLXXXIV) was released coincidentally in January of 1984.
By the time of 1984, Van Halen were quite possibly the biggest hard rock band here in the United States and just came off a huge concert tour for 1982's Diver Down dubbed the Hide Your Sheep Tour which ended at The US Festival in front of 500,000 strong in May of 1983. Following the conclusion to the tour, Van Halen (which was guitarist Eddie Van Halen, his drummer brother Alex, bass player Michael Anthony and wild child lead singer Diamond David Lee Roth) went to Eddie Van Halen's recently built home studio 5150 to record the band's first album of all band material (and no cover tunes spiced through an album) since 1981's Fair Warning as the band grew sick of doing cover tunes. Also, Eddie Van Halen (known for his revolutionary guitar playing and style) experimented with synthesizers and keyboards moreso than he did on their previous albums which put him more at odds with Diamond Dave who saw Eddie as a guitar hero and not a dabbler at keyboards. Was this good or bad, read ahead and find out (as I did when I first heard the album in February of 1984 thanks to my third older brother and wound up acquiring my own copy in mid-December of 1984 after ongoing complaints from him of me hijacking his tape copy).
We open the album with the instrumental title piece which is a excellent collage of Oberheim OB-8 and OB-X's going wild. Then we go right into the band's first (and only) US #1 pop charting hit out of the excellent song "Jump" driven by the riff done on the Oberheim OB-X synthesizer and featuring one of Eddie's best guitar solos. Next is the album's third US Top 20 hit and second big MTV (when it was Music TeleVision) smash out of the rocker "Panama" complete with Diamond Dave's engine revving during the chorus. Next is another great rocker out of "Top Jimmy" which gets overlooked as opposed to the rest of the album. We close Side One with the excellent rocker "Drop Dead Legs" which has classic Diamond Dave lyrics and great guitars from Eddie.
We begin Side Two with Alex Van Halen's classic drum solo intro into the fast paced rocker "Hot For Teacher" which is a great rocker and also had a superb video. Next is the Top 15 second single from the album which was "I'll Wait" which was a keyboard driven number which was co-written with Michael McDonald (yes the same one who sang with The Doobie Brothers) and a great song still (especially with Eddie's short but brilliant guitar solo). Next is the hard rocking rocker "Girl Gone Bad" which rocks like no other on the album. We close the proceedings with the excellent hard rocker "House of Pain" which proved the 1984 album was not all drenched in keyboards as the guitar solo attests.
1984 would go on to be Van Halen's biggest selling album with some 10 million copies sold in the US alone (tying the first album's sales tally) and peaking at #2 on the Billboard album charts. It would also be the band's final studio album with David Lee Roth who would leave the band in April of 1985 and would not return permanently until 2007. It would be the last studio album with the original Van Halen lineup but it still rocks 28 years on (especially with the remastered version out on CD since 2000).