The GB Album Club 031 - 1984 by Van Halen

Avatar image for unclejam23
unclejam23

379

Forum Posts

40

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

Duders! Welcome to the 31st edition of the Unofficial Giant Bomb Album Club! Last week, we shat upon the legacies of Reagan and Thatcher with Fela Kuti and his 1989 album Beasts of No Nation. This week, here's hoping that people seeing their name in the forum of a popular video game website will drive a few new listeners to this relatively unknown act, as our album this week is 1984 by Van Halen! This album was picked by our good buddy @justin258, and you can listen with the links below:

Spotify

Apple Music

Youtube

Here at the good ol' Unofficial Giant Bomb Album Club, we made a pool of albums and we choose one at random each week to listen to and discuss. The theme this time around is Albums from Acts You Discovered in Video Game Soundtracks. We only have two albums left for this cycle, but if you want to get in on the next one, head on down to our Discord!

Avatar image for unclejam23
unclejam23

379

Forum Posts

40

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

#2  Edited By unclejam23

Hi, I'm Uncle Jam and this is my first Van Halen album.

What took me so long? Well other than my teenage born skepticism of a lot of classic rock (a skepticism that I've mostly shaken off, but one day, I'll write a big long thing about my misgivings on what is and is not considered canon in music) and my being-a-human-being born skepticism of glam metal, I somehow got it into my head for many years that I wasn't supposed to take Van Halen that seriously? I was in a Guitar Center once (my brother plays bass) and "Just a Gigolo" came on the speakers and somebody made a joke about David Lee Roth that always stuck with me. I don't know.

And now that I've finally done a Van Halen, I find myself very much torn.

On one hand, it's just a lot of fun. I get into my own head a lot when it comes to music and I tend to overthink stuff that's designed purely for enjoyment. I look for a depth that's not supposed to be there and speed right past the obvious "point" which is to just let the experience take you. But I had no problem doing that here. "Jump" and "Panama" are back-to-back after all, and even though we've heard those songs a trillion times, there's a reason for that. David's energy. Eddie's guitar. Everything you want is here.

On the other hand, it also feels somewhat disposable to me. It feels more like a collection of songs to me than what I think of as an album, where the songs are arranged in such a way as to give a sense of an arc. But more so, I just found the experience kind of empty. I 100% get that it's supposed to be fun and you're supposed to feed off the energy, but I don't know. It still just felt like flashy guitars for flashy guitar's sake. Glamour for glamour, and once it was over I already started forgetting it. Or to put it another way, I didn't hear anything off this album that I couldn't get better somewhere else. (There's a part of me that wonders if I would've appreciated this more were it not for being in such close proximity to Songs for the Deaf as far as my first listenings go.)

Maybe this is the wrong Van Halen album for me. I'd absolutely give the first self-titled and Fair Warning a shot. But I don't know. I was expecting more.

Favorite Songs: "Panama," "Top Jimmy," "Hot for Teacher"

Avatar image for sombre
sombre

2295

Forum Posts

49

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 4

Panama absolutely rules.

Avatar image for unclejam23
unclejam23

379

Forum Posts

40

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that Panama rules.

Avatar image for shindig
Shindig

7076

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Yeah, I'm not a hair metal guy but it's hard to deny how much Van Halen put into it. Fun and confident but very much of it's time. It's weird to hear so much synth on this but it lands well enough.

Panama rules and is clearly the standout in this. I'll Wait might be the weakest thing on the album but I can't help but hear the synth and think, "Have they just re-arranged Jump?"

Avatar image for redwing42
redwing42

1069

Forum Posts

2

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 2

This album was one of the first cassettes of real music I had as a kid, along with "Business as Usual" by Men At Work and "Eliminator" by ZZ Top. I have not actually revisited any of those albums for a while, but it was very strange when I listened to this that I had very few memories of this album outside the singles. Usually I get pretty big nostalgia hits when I go back to music after years away (e.g. Hang-Ups), but the only song that tripped that for me here was "I'll Wait," which was a single, but one that has certainly fallen by the wayside over the years in comparison to "Jump", "Panama", and "Hot For Teacher". Given the subject matter, that isn't so surprising.

Speaking of said subject matter, this album is short and gets to the point. And that point is David Lee Roth's penis. I don't think there was a more openly horny front man in the 80s, and that totally worked for VH and the early MTV era. I went back to listen to some of VH's other albums after listening to this one (I hadn't listened to any of the other albums in full, though certainly know and like a bunch of the songs), and I was surprised by the general brevity overall. I do think those earlier albums have a bit more cohesion, and are a bit more adventurous as well, but I echo UncleJam's criticism about the lack of structure to the albums. Also, they love The Kinks. I can't disagree.

Favorites: Hot For Teacher, Panama, I'll Wait. Favorite other VH album so far: maybe Diver Down?