1979, Music

Van Halen II (1979)

I grudgingly gave Van Halen’s debut album a positive rating because, as much as I do not like this band, I must admit that

  • they have a very, very good guitar player
  • they are good at what they do and
  • they have been (unfortunately) very influential.

All of that is still true on the second album, but the thing about the second album is that it’s just the first album all over again, so whatever originality I grudgingly accepted on the first record – well I don’t care about that any more.

I do not like the songs this band writes. They are big and dumb and below their abilities as musicians (with one obvious exception). The songs are quite catchy but I’m not sure this is their catchiest set. (Figuring that out would require listening to more Van Halen records, and I’m not sure I want to do that.) The cover sounds like them, which is too their credit. It doesn’t make me like it, though.

As I’ve said elsewhere, I get that women and many men find Roth charismatic but I don’t get it. I think of him as one of the guys in high school I very much didn’t get along with, and who picked on me in a pretty dumb way, which made me more angry because I would think “You can’t even come up with good insults! Gol!” His lyrics are inane. Everybody knows that. You either find him obnoxious or you love him.

The performances are great, of course. They know what they’re doing and they’re good at it. And Roth is a little creative with his voice. The only one I actually enjoy is “Spanish Fly” (aka “Acoustic Eruption”) because it’s just Eddie and his guitar, and I don’t have to be exposed to everything else I don’t like about this band.

The production is too clean, of course, especially those backing vocals, which are just the worst. At least Anthony makes a bit of noise at the beginning of the cover, so there’s a hint that they don’t want to produce the shit out of absolutely everything. (But they do, for the most part.)I do not like this band. I never will. I wish their songs were better (both music and lyrics), I wish they were heavier, I wish their music matched their talent. Alas.


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