The Importance of Being Metal: Van Halen-1984

Van Halen-1984
1984; 5150 Studios, Hollywood, California; Warner Records

1. Is It Any Good?

Listen, if you've turned on a classic rock radio station in the past 15 years, you already know if you're going to like this album or not. Your appreciation of 1984 hinges entirely on whether or not you enjoy the music of Van Halen. Does that seem kind of stupid and obvious? Well, it's the best you're going to get, because that's the same qualifier you have to keep in mind for the self titled album and II and Fair Warning and all the damn rest of them.

Look, you know what Van Halen sounds like, probably by the back of your hand at this point. It's brainless, jumpy party rock. If that's your thing than you need to own this album, but if that's your thing you probably already do own this album. "Panama" and "Hot For Teacher" showcase the best of this kind of music, "Jump" and "I'll Wait" show the worst. The synthesizers can make a lot of the songs pretty goofy, but if you listen to Van Halen you're probably not looking for a fucking concerto to begin with.

I hate reviewing albums like 1984 because it's like trying to review tire chains. You know what they are and you know what they do. Will they keep your car from getting stuck in the snow? They're probably good tire chains. Are you in the market for tire chains to begin with? If not then of course don't fucking buy them.

Here's the bottom line: I bought this CD today, for four dollars used. I'm okay with having paid that much for it. I don't think it's worth buying outside of those specific parameters.

2. Is It "Influential?"

Most of the influence would probably come from their first album, but you're kidding yourself if you don't think "Panama" has inspired a whole slew of kids to learn it on the guitar. Van Halen kind of created the hard rock/party hardy genre of music as we know it today, and this album was probably the apex of that formula, making it somewhat a blessing and largely a curse.

Is It A Good Entry Point For Beginners?

I have a really hard time wrapping my head around the idea of calling this album "metal" by any stretch of the imagination, so no, it's not a good entry point at all. If you give this to someone along with Master of Reality and The Jester Race you'll more likely than not just confuse the hell out of them.


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