Van Hailing

A funny thing happened last Friday.  So there I was in Chester doing a bit of Christmas shopping for my nearest and dearest, and I accidentally found myself right outside Grey & Pink Records* I popped in just to rest my weary legs for a second, or two. 

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Well, long story short I found a very reasonably priced copy of Van Halen Women & Children First, which I had thought about hearing again for a good decade now.  Then I spotted two equally pristine copies of Diver Down and Fair Warning, all UK originals, all priced very reasonably.  Having obviously contracted sunstroke** at some point earlier that morning and so I blacked out and bought them.

Now it’s an interesting one, despite Why Can’t This Be Love being my fourth ever single, I have never really gone a whole bunch on Van Halen.  I owned Van Halen and 5150 but I always found their sound a bit treble-y and lacking a bass wallop, plus there was something about DLR’s Diamond Dave schtick that just pissed me off^.  The only track I truly loved of theirs was ‘Jump’. 

But suddenly, last Friday I got it somehow, I got them.  Maybe it was the residual meds swimming around in my system from my shoulder problems, but if so, good. Each LP I played I liked better, but the one that really sold it for me is Fair Warning.  There’s a darkness and a cussedness about that one which really does it for me, this is very much California after dark. 

Even Diver Down, which I was wary of because of its running time and number of cover tunes was truly excellent, I love it all. 

So I have now accidentally pulled the trigger online and bought Van Halen II and 1984.  I used to own II when I was 15 and just never thought it was heavy enough, or good enough – I sold it after a year.  What was I thinking?!  I think I like it better than Van Halen

I am really pleased that I have found some great ‘new’ LPs to listen to and also at the evidence that I am capable of revising some of the views I have held since 1987.  Some of them.  Maybe this is what maturity feels like? Bloody hell, if I’m not careful I’ll end up being broadminded. 

So forgive me if you run into me and I start telling you all about ‘this great new band I’ve discovered … you won’t have heard of them, Van Halen’

899 (Diver) Down (Still). 

*after a brisk 15 minute stroll and a number of perilous road crossings. 

**or was it frostbite, or malaria, or just a bit of a runny nose? whatever, I was totes delirious, is what I am saying.  

^as opposed to his interviews which I usually liked. 

37 thoughts on “Van Hailing

  1. So, you found your way to the magic of Van Halen, huh? This makes me proud. And I’m sure you will find other Van Halen albums that you’ll think are your favorites, but you’ll always find your way back to ‘Fair Warning’. Easily the best. ‘Diver Down’ has been unfairly maligned over the years by those Van Halen ’78 dudes. Don’t listen to ’em. “The Full Bug”, “Little Guitars I and II”, “Dancing In The Streets”? Classics.

    Hope you had a nice holiday, btw. And I hope your shoulder is better.

    1. Hello there! It only took me 31 years to get there too – that’s how pigheaded I am.

      VH II is only just behind Fair Warning in my affections now. What was I thinking back in ’87?

      It’s made me want to learn to play guitar. I suspect I am probably the greatest guitar player of my generation.

      1. You very well could be. Just head to Mississippi and find those crossroads. Look for a man called Legba. How do you think I became the greatest Kazoo player of my generation?

      1. Real similar to me. I like my strolls and VH Hits comes along quite often. ‘Ain’t Talkin Bout Love’ is a killer tune. And I do like the Sammy contributions. I had to get by the hype and Roth but I managed.

  2. I’ve never really ‘gotten’ Van Halen either. I’ve listened to plenty and I reckon I could say there’s a good few tunes of theirs I really enjoy (Right Now is still supreme) but when I’ve tried an entire album at a time… I struggle.
    As for DLR… I sit in the Van Hagar camp.

      1. HAHAHA….Exactly….Me and Tbone years(1993) ago loaded up in his car all the Halen albums up to that point for a 9 hour drive to Winnipeg to see McCartney. We got through the Roth/VH catalogue in no time…hahaha..
        The 3 Hagar albums were a little longer in the 40-50 minute range…hahaha…
        I think when all was said and done we still had about 2 hours of drive time which I think we blasted Wings Over America which is a double live album which in length is like 3 Roth/Halen album…
        Man we laughed at that…

  3. II has always been my favourite VH album, I can’t explain why. Maybe because the closer, “Beautiful Girls” is such and underrated track even if it does expose DLR for being a bit of a prat. Like you, I stayed away from Diver Down for nearly 30 years because I listened to some people who said it sucked. Not their best album but it certainly doesn’t suck. You got to watch those shoulder meds though.

  4. Hey man, that record collection is you! You’ll get some leg tonight for sure! Tell us how you do!

    I’m wondering if this is the first time anyone has used the phrase “is this what maturity feels like” in relation to Van Halen before…

    1. Thanks Bruce. Jump is a terrific tune, it sounds like he’s wearing boxing gloves to play the keyboards and I mean that as an absolute compliment.

      If you see it cheap, try 1984.

  5. Yas!! Now you’re talking! Strangely enough, I was just browsing eBay and Discogs for some Van Halen! I only have the debut and Fair Warning on vinyl, but each of those DLR albums are fucking glorious (you can keep your 5150 balls) and I need ‘em. So I was seeing what kind of business was to be done.

    Anyhoo, Fair Warning is just outstanding. Probably one of my favourite albums in the collection.

    I’m glad you’re rediscovering them.

    1. II is the one for me right now, but that might well change by tomorrow.

      I can’t believe you’ve discovered by brand new band too!

      I do have a soft spot for 5150, can’t help it. That album and I have, umm, ‘parking’ history.

      1. II is a mighty fine album, no doubt. But yeah, what are the the chances of us discovering the hot new band at the same time!? Outrageous.

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