Reaction: Van Halen – Tattoo

Well, it’s 2012, and the words many rock fans have been dying to say can be said: “Van Halen are back!” (again.) VH did a private gig on January 6th at NYC intimate Cafe Wha? in Greenwich Village, playing a set of old and a couple of new for a lucky select audience of industry and celebrities.

As for myself, I have been a Van Halen fan since about age 5 or 6, enjoying the rock and roll runoff of my older sister, and her boyfriend and their friends that jammed to Sabbath, Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Steve Miller, Kiss, and of course Van Halen. I have been a fan ever since, even through the Hagar era. (This is a source of contention amongst VH fans. I personally love the music of both eras, and I will never be swayed otherwise).

When I heard that they were back together (again) with the (almost) original lineup, I was tentative but curious. Now a tour and an album have been announced, and the first single, “Tattoo”, has been released. I watched the YouTube-released video with an open mind, truly wanting to like it. What I heard was (at best) an outtake from a David Lee Roth solo album with an Eddie Van Halen solo in the middle. Tired, humdrum, and pretty much all-around uninspired are things that come into my head. There’s just not that Van Halen “fire” when you hear Tattoo. Another glaring missing link that I just can’t overlook is the distinct lack of Michael Anthony on this. Eddie’s son Wolfgang has taken over on bass, and it leaves a huge void, both in the bass and vocal department. Mike’s vocals were a key factor to the “Van Halen sound” throughout their entire career, and that is now gone. It’s like a Harley with quiet pipes. It just doesn’t seem right.

I will still give the full album a listen when it gets released, and as before, try to have an open mind. Unfortunately, if Tattoo is an indicator of the sound of the rest of the album, I won’t be listening to it 20 years from now like I have with Fair Warning  or 5150.

Give Tattoo a listen for yourself, and see what you think. Let me know – I am curious what other people think of it, and please try not to be biased just because “it’s Van Halen.”

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2 Responses to “Reaction: Van Halen – Tattoo”

  1. Matt Davis Says:

    Spot on.

  2. Great review Jon! Outtake from a David Lee Roth solo album. I dont think I have heard a better description yet. Although I do enjoy Eddie’s solo, I was not a fan of the song in general.

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