Monday, November 7, 2011
Van Halen: 1984
Van Halen: 1984
I bought 1984 in coincidentally 1984 with lawn mowing and paper route money on cassette. The first song I heard on from it was the mega successful hit single Jump. Of course I didn't actually hear the song on the radio I saw the video on "the MTV". I was 13 and Edward Van Halen was unquestionably the hottest guitarist around and 1984 featured the single greatest riff I had ever heard up until that point in my life: "Panama". At age 13 I was also really liked Marvel comics, although if I had money it was spent on cassettes and video games, not comic books. I had friends and cousins who did buy comics and let me read theirs so I never had to buy any of my own. I also pictured in my mind a superhero who was a cross between Marvel comics Sandman and the Human Torch using "Panama" as his theme music. Not that any of Marvel's characters used theme music, but that didn't matter to me. It just seemed like a really cool idea. It also never occurred to me that such a character would instantly turn to glass either.
At 13 I was also really into Dungeons and Dragons. My friends and I played, but we really bent the rules. Our characters were artificially inflated to a degree never seen before or seen since. I also remember making up my own role playing game based around the Marvel Universe with several dozen self invented heroes and villains as well. I even managed to convince some of my other friends to play it as well. In retrospect I think it really speaks well of my circle of friends, that although we spent our fair share of time playing video games, we had pretty well rounded imaginations and were actually interested in a creative form of interactive story telling. In short we were creating our very own "crummy world of plot holes and spelling errors".
Musically, 1984 still kicks serious butt. It is sad to think that this was the last original lineup Van Halen album ever. No one knew it at the time but once 5150 hit the shelves you realized what was gone. I'm not a total hater Van Hagar either. I think F.U.C.K. is the best of the Hagar era and all of the Hagar discs have merit, but none measure up to 1984. Also, 1984 hinted at where Van Halen was headed in the future, with "Jump", the title track, and "I'll Wait", so all the blame of the direction change can't shouldered by Hagar.