Van Halen 2: Is it a perfect rock album?

The thesis is simple: VH2 is a perfect mixture of fun and genius. Every track is at least good. There are few studio tricks. Its a perfect album to listen to when imbibing.

Your thoughts, please.

No. All Van Halen albums are good, but there’s always just a little bit something missing. In the case of the Roth albums, it’s any sense of melody or singing. Fun ideas, great guitar playing, and innovation are there(there was nothing even close to VH’s sound in 1979, they were by far the most original band out there), but no, not perfect.

IMO, the closest they came to a perfect album was For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. The first too Hagar albums were pat and safe, they were obviously trying to ride the trends, but the following two Hagar albums, the one I mentioned and Balance, were a lot more creative and “complete” for lack of a better word, probably because as in the late 70s what they were doing wasn’t “in”, so they were more willing to push the envelope.

For the Roth era, Fair Warning is the best, I think.

Having a discussion about VH without starting at VH1 doesn’t make sense. VH1 changed the rules. Eruption and Eddie’s other pyrotechnics changed rock music and everything about rock guitar.

VH1 established a whole new language for rock guitar. So when they came out with VH2 and it had a cute, poppier-than-pop song as their first single, Dance the Night Way, we all LOVED it because it was still VH - Roth being Roth and Eddie legitimizing the song by playing tapped harmonics throughout - as a 15 year old, I could love the song while pointed out what amazing stuff he was doing.

So VH2 cemented their reputation as crossover, cool-for-girls-AND-for-guys reputation, but only in the aftermath of VH1.

VH1 also represents their best efforts after years of trying to get signed.

So, for me - gotta be VH1 as their best, with VH2 and 1984 close behind. I love, love, love Beautiful Girls and Women in Love (figuring out how to play that intro was a right of passage on harmonic tapping for me). But Spanish Fly vs. Eruption? You’re No Good vs. You Really Got Me? I prefer VH1’s…

It’s a good album because all the songs are good. It’s not genius, because the songs are just good.

But this song is more than good to me, and I don’t think KISS ever showed more showmanship or the Scorpions more musicianship:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llfjDUB66Z4

Thank you for your detailed post WordMan.

My favorite tracks are the middle of the disc Someone Get Me a Doctor through Light Up the Sky. They just rock plus are devoid of studio doctoring. EVH was at his best. He had a John Coltrane mastery of his instrument, the rhythm section was tight and DLR added the perfect combination of swagger and charisma.

Yes, VH1 was a game changer. But, for me, VH2 had better songs overall.

It’s funny: I had typed all these same words in more or less the same order then I hit Preview and realized you had already posted the nearly the same exact thing, right down to the same rank order I give VH albums. Thanks, WordMan!

ETA: I still think And The Cradle Will Rock… is their best song, tho.

Cool. Yeah, I agree with the Coltrane reference, but VH stayed locked, in a good way, into a commercial song structure. Wish Eddie would’ve done one Blow by Blow or Wired, though.

My favorite by them is** I Can’t Wait to Feel Your Love Tonight.** Off VH1 so part of the “revolution,” it takes a standard boogie-rock riff and blows it up. The actual riff is harmonically more complex than a standard boogie riff like Nugent’s Hey Baby. The second chorus where EVH switches to power/barre chords to pump the chorus - that’s one of my favorite riffs - a better version of Kiss’ Cold Gin. Roth gets to be the ultimate gigolo Roth dude*, the leads are spectacular, the little fills in between things are jaw dropping, and, most importantly, Michael Anthony’s high harmonies make it a true Power Pop song, NOT a bluesy boogie like you would expect from Nugent or Skynyrd.

*“We’re getting funny in the back of my car; I’m sorry if I took it just a little too far.” Classic Dave. At the time it sounds carpe diem, not date-rapey.

Oh, hey, forgot to add: I love Somebody Get Me a Doctor! And yeah, the best part of listening to Eddie is hearing his fingers move. It is very clear that there is very little studio patchwork going on, or if there it, it is still in service to his spontaneous abilities. His guitar sounds like a revved up version of classic guitar, not like the beginnings of a heavy metal tone. Distorted, but with a lot of mids and really articulate. Yay.

Overall a very good album for VH. Perfect? - No.

That’s: I’m sorry HONEY if I took it just a little too far.

:smack:

Man, I’m getting old.

I’ve always loved 1984.

I am referring to the remastered copy. It explodes of the disc.

I would go with Van Halen’s first being perfect, 1984 (which was my introduction to Van Halen–I can’t imagine what it must have been like to hear this album as a youth when it came out) as being pretty close to perfect as well, and then it’s a tough choice between Van Halen II and Women and Children First. I actually think I would rank Women and Children First ahead of Van Halen II myself, but it’s pretty darned close. As for the Hagar years, I thought 5150 was reasonable, but it went quickly downhill from there.

Van Halen made some entertaining albums, but Alex Van Halen isn’t a world class drummer, thus no Van Halen album can be considered perfect.

Sorry, incorrect. Regardless of what you think of AVH as a drummer, Eddie loves him and feels he breathes life in his play. The songs groove hard, whether due to Eddie or Alex, who cares?! Done.

Jack White sounds fucking amazing with Meg White, a…primitive drummer at best. So it goes.

Okay, I spent a lot of yesterday listening to every single Van Halen album and I have to revise my rankings:

  1. 1984 - this is a band at the peak of their songwriting and performing skills.
  2. Van Halen - an awesome collection of songs on side 1, not so much on side 2.
  3. Van Halen II - Spanish Fly and Women In Love are the weak points but the album finishes strong
  4. Diver Down - too many self-indulgent tunes; thankfully when the album rocks it ROCKS
  5. Women And Children First
  6. Fair Warning

Van Hagar albums don’t count. Post-Van Hagar albums don’t exist (yes, this includes the re-Van Halen album; it’s better off forgotten by everyone).

YMMV.

Long time VH fan…my rankings after a recent binge-listen. First comment, wow were these short albums, barely 30 minutes run time for many of them. This could also be why they are such consistently high quality, they are all a quick dense slap in the face.

1: Fair Warning - the most mature and exploratory song-writing and composition IMO. They branched out from the simple girls’n’beer’n’party formula and also dipped into Eddie’s synth ideas.
2: VH1 - The game changer as others have mentioned, not a weak spot anywhere.
3: Women and Children First - The best Side A in rock history. Alex’s drumming and Mike’s bass are very prominent on this, a rumbling joy.
4: VH2 - More poppy and what comes of both good and bad from that. Very creative Eddie licks make some otherwise trite songs listenable
5: Diver Down - Erratic and feels more like an EP, but nails a few classics.

…and I meant to slip in 1984 somewhere at the 1,2,3 spot but can never make up my mind. :slight_smile:

Just for the record, the second half of my parenthetical was supposed to refer to Van Halen’s first album, not 1984. I was 8 when 1984 was released, but already kind of familiar with the hard rock sound some of which VH influenced. My statement was that I can’t imagine how amazing it must have been to be a teenager into rock music and hearing that debut album drop, and how different it must have sounded to everything else at that time.

One memory: my high school had a circular driveway in the front. Seniors would drive their muscle cars through with speakers blasting while the rest of us were out on the front grass, etc. Very “Dazed and Confused” for sure. When the song blasting was Eruption, everyone would pause and say “man, Eddie Van Halen…” shake our heads, and then go back to whatever we were doing. And when he started dating Valerie Bertinelli - he was the Man.

:wink:

As a guitar player, everything changed in terms of Guitar Player and other magazines, but obviously more importantly were the guitars themselves. DIY modifications were expected; after market parts blew up in importance. Locking trems became necessary (ugh, what a pain!). It was especially tough because EVH-ish guitars were demanding, a pain to set up and Eddie did tons of weird things to his Marshall amps to get his tone, including installing a Variac variable cap to suck some juice out of the power stage so he could play at lower volumes. Great way to blow up your amp.

And anyone who cracked the code on an EVH lick - this was prior to YouTube, heck, the Internet! - so figuring all that stuff out was hard, man!