Thursday, January 9, 2014


Van Halen rolled with the punches and reached the pinnacle of their success with the fun and funky radio friendly riffage of this new wave metal hybrid.  They had reinvented rock with their eponymous debut and found increasing fame and fortune with each subsequent album Although the group had used synthesizers on previous albums, it wasn't until the production of '1984' ('MCMLXXXIV') that they became a prominent element of their sound.  Eddie Van Halen began experimenting more with them during the construction of his  5150 Studios in Hollywood, California.  Anticipation was high for the new album in the wake of the huge success of his featured guitar solo on 'Beat It' from Michael Jackson's blockbuster 'Thriller' album.  Eddie would express at the time:    "It’s near completion and will be out in January. It seems like we’re taking our time on it but we’re actually not. The US Festival, again, hasn’t stopped haunting us. We were committed to do a radio show we didn’t know about and in the meantime we’re trying to do a record. We get a call, 'Hey, you’re committed to a radio show', and we go, 'Oh, God, not again!' ... We have all the tracks finished for thirteen tunes but we can’t use them all. The songs are four to five minutes long and we don’t like putting more than thirty-five or forty minutes on a record because you lose that crispness. It starts sounding like a greatest hit package from the ’50s. You lose fidelity. People give us shit about that too: 'Your records are too short.' You listen to a record from beginning to end and if you feel you got your money’s worth, that’s fine...I think this next one is going to be a hellified record. The majority of the solos will be overdubs. It just depends on how it feels right. There’s a fast boogie called “Hot for Teacher.” There’s another one called “Anytime, Anyplace” with a live solo on it. Lots of overdubs. My dad might play an intro for a song. There’s a song called “Panama” with a live solo, and a song called “Jump.”... I’ve been getting into keyboards lately. Donn [Landee, engineer] is going to find me a piano. There are two songs basically based on keyboard; one is called “Jump” and I don’t know what the other one is called yet...It ended up sounding completely different, but I still liked it... I think as long as I do whatever I do well, whatever they say I don’t really care. I mean they can’t say that it sucks. If they don’t like seeing me play keyboards that’s too bad."

The sessions were produced by Ted Templeman and featured David Lee Roth on lead vocals; Eddie Van Halen on guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals; Michael Anthony on bass guitar and backing vocals; and Alex Van Halen on drums and percussion.  The album became the band's biggest ever, going to number fifteen in New Zealand and the UK, twelve in Austria and Norway, eleven in Australia and Germany, eight in the Netherlands, seven in Switzerland, four in Sweden, two in the US, and number one in Canada.  '1984' sold over twelve million copies in the US alone.  

Roth would reflect:   "Van Halen has always come down the beach with a torch in one hand and a sword in the other, and that's the way we've always approached our music and our live show and particularly my interviews and I don't see how people can resist. In '1984', you can't avoid us. You can talk whatever you want about clothing and haircuts, but it's all in the grooves. If the music moves, then you've got it...Who was it, George Bernard Shaw wrote that after all the years of being an outcast, or being an outsider, the worst possible fate had befallen him - now he was popular and everyone was applauding him and he was acceptable. That's not something we ever considered. We're not forging a specific image here; a lot of artists try to do that, and if you're trying to be Jesse James and they're writing you up as if you're Louis Pasteur, I can see where you might lose some sleep over that. We never really sat down and decided what we were going to sell to the people - I've always been acceptable to myself, it's damn time that the world figures it that way too...I know for a fact that to a small degree, we've bred a small legion of imitators, copycats, mimics, people who are using Van Halen for their prime and sole inspiration. But even more important than that, are all the people who are just disgusted and revolted by our music and our presence and our appearance and the way I do interviews, and they've been forced to come up with some very substantial musical alternatives to Van Halen type rock, and that's why we have new some new wave music, I'm just explaining where it comes from. I'm talking about haircuts and shoes, more than anything...I'm talking about the synthesizer and a drum machine...I think there was a lot less mental pressure during the recording of this album. We recorded it over a period of a year or more, and I think during that year we must have spent - in the studio, actually working - I think at least two and a half, three weeks... There's a sense of ease about this album that I don't feel on the other albums." 

'Hot for Teacher'


'I'll Wait'

'1984' ('MCMLXXXIV')
full album:

1. "1984" (instrumental) 1:07
2. "Jump"   4:04
3. "Panama"   3:32
4. "Top Jimmy"   2:59
5. "Drop Dead Legs"   4:14
6. "Hot for Teacher"   4:42
7. "I'll Wait"   4:41
8. "Girl Gone Bad"   4:35
9. "House of Pain"   3:19

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