A Different Kind Of Truth By Guest Blogger Kiko Jones

Post Urban Culture

Today’s guest blog is a wonderful review of the new Van Halen LP by Kiko Jones.  Enjoy!

As someone recently stated, much has happened in the world of music since the days when the David Lee Roth-fronted Van Halen ruled the Earth: hip-hop was in its infancy, Kurt Cobain was in high school and we knew Lady GaGa as Madonna. (And current bassist Wolfgang Van Halen hadn’t even been born yet!) In the 28 years since Diamond Dave and Eddie Van Halen made an album together, we saw DLR’s solo star skyrocket and plummet back to terra firma, while the brothers VH and bassist Michael Anthony added Sammy Hagar to the band, watering down their trademark sound, becoming Van Hagar or Van Jovi—depending on how much derision was cast their way—and enjoying much commercial success before imploding when a Gary Cherone-led version of the band recorded the abomination that is ‘Van Halen III’ [Warner Bros-1997] and, for the most part, closed up shop for the next decade and a half.   

But no matter how much acrimony there’s been between wounded parties, unless you are Creedence Clearwater Revival or crucial members have passed away—and even if they have—bands eventually reunite. Roth literally reunited with the VH brothers in 2007—Michael Anthony had been given the boot and was replaced by Eddie’s son Wolfgang—and the band toured to widespread acclaim and the biggest amount of loot they’ve ever amassed on the road. But would they record a new album? In hindsight, it seems as if the tour was a test to see how long they could remain together before the old wounds reopened. Long enough, as it turns out. 

But the question remained, could they pull off a non-embarrassing new record, a true comeback? The long awaited album, ‘A Different Kind of Truth’, Van Halen’s first with DLR since the mega-selling ‘1984 ‘[Warner Bros] almost three decades ago, answered that one in spades, making its triumphant arrival this past February 7th with early indications that this platter was a winner. Both the All Music Guide and The Guardian gave it 4 out of 5 stars, respectively; the Chicago Tribune 2.5 of 4; while the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, NY Daily News, USA Today and the Vancouver Sun, among many others, also gave it a warm reception.

I was trying to formulate my own take on the album, but felt the AV Club’s review clearly echoes not only my feelings on the record, but most of the press and fans who’ve made their own opinions known: 

“[It] might not be an all-time Van Halen album…[b]ut after so many years of fumbling dysfunction that reduced the once-proud Van Halen name to a laughingstock, [this album] matters because it’s a reminder of why this band mattered…For whatever reason, when Roth is in the band, Eddie Van Halen plays guitar like the world wants him to play guitar…Together, Eddie and Diamond Dave have achieved a simple yet hard-to-pull-off goal with ‘A Different Kind Of Truth’: Sounding like the Van Halen we (want to) remember.”

Those of us who love this band—especially and almost exclusively their first six albums, all with DLR—have much to be thankful for: one of our faves have not only returned but have done so in fine form.

Highlights: “She’s the Woman”, “You and Your Blues”, “Chinatown”, the shoulda-been-leadoff-single “Blood and Fire”, “Bullethead”, “As Is”, “The Trouble With Never”, “Big River”.


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