New Van Halen Album Not So New?

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With the recent announcement of Van Halen’s new album still fresh in fan’s minds, former frontman Sammy Hagar has thrown a bit of cold water on the whole thing. Hagar, in recent comments regarding the new VH album says that the material on the album consists of old demo material that was considered and tossed by the wayside years ago. Hagar along with friend and Chickenfoot band mate Michael Anthony have made no secret of the fact that both their separations from Van Halen fell somewhere south of amicable. Hagar, in particular, has not been one to hold back when it comes to his thoughts and feelings on the subject.

I suppose this is something Eddie Van Halen should have seen coming. Although I personally don’t find a whole lot wrong with revisiting previously A Different Kind of Truth album coverunreleased material and polishing it up for release on a new album, the whole revelation seems to have put the band in a position of defending that decision after Hagar’s comments became public.

David Lee Roth, Van Halen’s original lead vocalist who is back for another rock and roll adventure with his old buddies, has stepped up to the plate in an effort to explain their decision to make use of the old material. “It’s material that Eddie and I generated in 1975, 1976 and 1977. Usually fellas in our weight division will kind of gamely – or ironically, wink-wink – try to hail back to it, but keep a safe, mature distance from it,” he tells the Los Angeles Times.

Roth goes on to concede that, “Are there second chances? I’m tending to ‘no’. We’ve managed to stretch our adolescence like a chiclet to the moon, and maintained the respectful dignities along the way that got us on that turnpike up in the first place.”

Some would argue that releasing material that was first conceived during the 70’s when Van Halen was first hitting the rock music scene like a tsunami is a good move, bringing back some of that original raw style that made rock fans sit up and take notice.

I can remember the first time I heard Van Halen. I suspect it was around 1977 and I was sitting in a rock club waiting for my favorite local cover band to get started. This club, like many others, blasted rock music through the house speakers in the absence of live performances.

On this particular night a track or two from Van Halen’s first album was on the club’s playlist. I can vividly recall hearing the first minute or two of Eddie Van Halen’s guitar work and thinking, “What the hell is this?” In a good way, I should point out. I had never heard anything quite like it and was totally engrossed in it. That never translated into my becoming a huge Van Halen fan, but there was little doubt that what I was hearing that night was a game-changer and that this new group was going places.

So, is reviving some old material from the 70’s a good idea to build the foundation of a new album upon? I suppose we’ll find out. Fans, like fans always do, will vary in their opinions regarding that decision. Clearly Eddie Van Halen and Company think it’s a decent gamble. One might wonder id the album’s title, A Different Kind of Truth has anything to do with that move. Probably not, but the cynic in me often gets the best of me.

Interestingly, former bassist Michael Anthony says he has no intention of seeking any monetary gain that could result from the release of that old material on a new album. Anthony, who says he thinks it will be nice to hear some of that old material again, could be entitled to royalties since during the time the old material was originally conceived, the group’s arrangement was that they all shared co-writing credits.

Anthony, once again shows himself to be a stand-up guy who does not appear to harbor any grudges against his old band mates despite some rather nasty things they reportedly did to him following his being fired from the band in favor of Eddie’s son Wolfgang.

On the other hand, the turmoil and in-fighting that has dogged the group for so many years may still be something they are struggling with. Roth makes no bones about that, admitting that everyone in the original lineup was guilty of “betrayal and thievery and lies and treachery” at one time or another. Whether or not it is all behind them will likely be revealed as their 2012 tour gets underway in a little less than two weeks time.

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