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View Diary: Overnight News Digest: From Peace to Gandalf's Process (37 comments)

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  •  "The Uneven Alchemy Of Van Halen" (10+ / 0-)

    A lot of times, the best things are not the ideal, but a combination of pieces that fit together & compliment each other. The best examples of this idea can probably be seen in sports, where teams will go out & spend the GDP of a third world nation to assemble a team of all-stars, only for it to fail & a team of what was considered has-beens & never-should-of-beens somehow winning it all instead.

    That notion is front & center in a new article over at the A.V. Club which analyzes Van Halen through the song "Runnin' With The Devil." The David Lee Roth version of Van Halen is usually considered the definitive version of the group, even though the group had success with Sammy Hagar & he was arguably a better singer.

    Whoever said a chain is only as strong as its weakest link never listened to Van Halen. From a strictly technical standpoint, David Lee Roth is one of the shittiest singers to ever clutch a microphone: screeching, squawking, croaking, honking, and bordering on tone-deafness. Granted, rock doesn’t demand virtuosity. But Roth’s lack of chops is made even more glaring by a stark contrast: His crumpled saxophone of a voice is pitted against the sleek eloquence and elegance of Eddie Van Halen’s guitar.

    It shouldn’t have worked. It totally did... The ultimate expression of Roth’s narcissistic caterwauling was put on display a few years ago, when a track of his vocals for “Runnin’ With The Devil”—sans Van Halen’s fluid, melodic guitar—was posted on the Internet. Such examples of disembodied vocals, particularly of well-known songs, can be jarring upon first listen. But there’s something spectacularly lousy about Roth’s unaccompanied vocals for “Runnin’.” Without the song’s title being chanted hypnotically in the background, there’s no harmonic tether, nothing to hold onto. Just Roth in all his naked glory. It’s like seeing Superman with his tights around his ankles, the emperor strutting around with no clothes. And a hard-on. Instead of coming across like the world-class singer of a world-class band, Roth is a drunken aerobics instructor who stumbles into a karaoke bar after a long night of moonlighting as a porn star.Which, naturally, is why Roth is a genius. Without him, VH wouldn’t have that X-factor, that wild card, that musky bouquet of chaos. The bland, post-Roth incarnations of VH have proven this.

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