I was really excited when I brought this tape. I remember having it at my grandmother’s house, where I would go to after school. I was in the kitchen staring at the front cover, mesmerized by the winged cupid smoking a cigarette, thinking how cool and naughty he was. I was an innocent 14 year old obsessed with sport so smoking, beer or anything ‘out of bounds’ had yet to descend on me.
Musically I was still conflicted and probably a bit all over the shop, Duran Duran and Billy Idol was still in my world but David Lee Roth and the Van Halen brothers carried an air of rock n roll edge that was appealing to my as yet undiscovered teenage rebellion.
Then of course, there were the riffs. The main single and MTV favorite ‘Jump’ had all the hallmarks of mass appeal but what Eddie Van Halen did with that Fender guitar would rope any teenager in with a pulse. This was the band’s sixth album and by selling 20 million in the U.S alone it launched them into super stardom.
This was the first Van Halen album I’d bought, primarily because of ‘Jump’, I had no idea about earlier albums, it was only a couple of years later when I dove into their back catalogue that I discovered a personal favorite ‘Fair Warning’, which is a gritty powerful album, a lot heavier than 1984, listen to ‘one foot out the door’ off that album and tell me you can’t get your groove on.
Van Halen around this era were famous for their internal struggles with Eddie wanting to incorporate synthesizers into the bands’ sound whilst Roth preferred guitar driven music. This album was a compromise of sorts; Eddie got his three keyboard tracks, ‘1984’, ‘Jump’, ‘I’ll Wait’ whilst the other songs featured driving guitars.
‘Hot for Teacher’ became hot property on MTV, primarily because of the ‘hot teacher’, which only added to the album sales. Van Halen were primarily a party band, fun songs played in summer at pool parties where the beer is flowing and its raining bikinis. Roth was perfect for this role, the gyrating front man with tight pants and long blond hair, who oozed machismo; he could whip any crowd into a frenzy. Marry that up with Eddie’s riffs and it’s a perfect storm.
This album is relatively short, 9 songs lasting 33 minutes; my favorite song is of course, the least commercial, it’s the pile driving riff extravaganza ‘Girl Gone Bad’ the drumming from Alex Van Halen on this track is truly epic.
This would be the last album with Roth as the singer, as in 1985 he either quit the band or was fired, depending on who you listen to. I only saw Van Halen once; it was in California in the mid 90’s with Sammy Hagar as singer, they were great, in keeping with the party image I’ve never seen more boobs in one place, before or since.
1984 is the kind of album you crank up in your convertible with the top down when cruising along on a beautiful sunny day, its free, its fun and everything rock n roll should be.
hallymustang rating 4.5/5