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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Rock N Roll Train(wreck)

After years of silence, Van Halen has finally given their fans something to "Jump" about!

On December 26th, the official Van Halen website posted a video showing new footage of the band rehearsing at the Roxy, as details of a new tour scrolled along the screen and classic Van Halen tracks played. Just before New Year's Eve, a promotional image of a train with the vintage Van Halen logo showed up on several websites, and was seen on New Year's Eve in Times Square, indicating the release date of their new album as February 7th, 2012. Tickets for the upcoming tour go on sale January 10th, which also marks the premiere of the first single and video from the album.

The biggest news for Van Halen fans is that this is the first full album recorded with original frontman David Lee Roth in 28 years. Two tracks were recorded with Roth in 1996 for their "Best Of Volume 1" hits collection, but a heated exchange backstage at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards ended any reunion possibilities, until 2007. Unfortunately for fans of the original lineup, bassist and founding member Michael Anthony was replaced by Eddie Van Halen's son Wolfgang, which Anthony had not been told officially and learned while reading news about the tour online. The 2007-2008 tour is the band's most profitable tour to date despite the lineup change, although it's been widely speculated that the band used recordings of Anthony's backing vocals.

Former frontman Sammy Hagar (1985-1996) has been very vocal about how poorly Anthony was treated by Eddie, first in 2004 when he forced Anthony to take a significant pay cut and sign away his rights to any future earnings, and again by replacing him as retribution for playing with Hagar during Van Halen's silent years. Hagar also slammed Eddie's decision to use his son on tour, stating that the current lineup is not what the fans want to see. Judging from comments on sites like, the Red Rocker is exactly right. Meanwhile, since being ousted from Van Halen, Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar have been busy enjoying the success of their band Chickenfoot, whose debut was certified Gold. They are currently touring in support of their second album, titled "III", which Hagar calls "the best album I've ever made."

Despite his unflattering remarks towards Eddie in his tell-all memoir "Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock", Sammy maintained confidence that he and Michael Anthony would be in Van Halen again, going as far as calling it "inevitable", mostly due to his disbelief in the possibility that they could actually finish an album with Roth. With the arrival of news of the upcoming Van Halen album, it seems that the least likely reunion at this point is one that involves Anthony or Hagar but the steady success of Chickenfoot compared to the slow progress of Van Halen proves that they're right where they should be.

For fans of Van Halen, the wait is finally over and January 10th will either be a day of excitement or disappointment. While I agree with Van Halen's most loyal fans that the true Van Halen sound exists in their early days, I favor Sammy's vocals and prefer the music made during his tenure. Either way, it's not the same without Michael Anthony in the band and that fact is made clear on Chickenfoot's second album, in which Anthony's vocals are more present than ever as he and Sammy are locked in like never before. Like Sammy, I hope that for the benefit of Van Halen's fans that this new album is nothing short of spectacular. If not, I'm sure Chickenfoot would be honored to let Van Halen open for their next tour.

**UPDATE 1-12-2012**

The first single is "Tattoo", which can be seen and heard on the Van Halen website, and the title of the album is "A Different Kind of Truth". The song "Tattoo" is actually a reworking of a track performed live in '77 called "Down In Flames". Another track on the album, "She's The Woman", is also an older song, it first appeared on the demo that got them their first record contract.


OWB61 said...

Van Halen in their current line up wishes they could open for Chickenfoot! Diamond Dave and the Van Halen boys time has came and went IMHO.

Jason Kentros said...

I couldn't agree more! I think the music Van Halen put out with Sammy was more aggressive and rocked harder but also had great melodies and his range is way beyond DLR.

OWB61 said...

I saw VH tour the first album circa 77? They were fantastic! Up to Fair Warning or when Dave went off, they killed! Then like a phoenix, rose again. Although different for sure, the second coming was no joke. A bit older and wiser as were their fans. Sammy took no prisoners, and once again Van Halen ruled. That was long ago. Now their faithful followers are divided,and Sammy has only gained momentum. Let the music do the talking. I hear Chickenfoot!