Saturday, May 5, 2007

Van Halen - "Hear About It Later"

Can't do a week of guitar wankery without giving respect to Eddie and the boys, so here it is. There's an interesting heirarchy to Van Halen fanhood:

  • Level Three

    If you're an 80s rock fan, your favourite VH album is 1984.

  • Level Two

    If you're a casual VH fan, your favoutite VH album is the first one.

  • Level One

    If you're a serious VH fan, your favourite VH album is Fair Warning.

It's that simple, and there are surprisingly few exceptions. It's hard to see why; you'd figure a Van Halen fan would be into good-time rock n' roll, and Fair Warning is the band's darkest album by a long shot, from the brutal cover art on down. It still sounds fun on the surface, but the atonal guitar lines and nihilistic lyrics tell a different story. The band reportedly hated each other, more so than they had before or would again until the breakup, during the recording, a blurry fog of cocaine and hard liquor. This is anything but a party record.

"Hear About It Later" captures the overall mood as well as, if not better than, any other track on the album. The opening chords sound vaguely ominous, the arpeggiations in the bridge are sad and beautiful. The lyrics speak of exhaustion and unconfronted tension, the brief guitar solo is a nightmare of anger and confusion that dares you to like it. All this over a backdrop of the usual thundering drums and showtune backing vocals. Granted, there are some even freakier solos toward the end of side two, but this track just seems to have all the bad vibes in place. Very strange, to say the least.

Ah yes, the record. I bought it used online a few years ago, just filling out the VH collection, probably for a few bucks at most. No great story here, I'm afraid.

Buy it... on vinyl

From my deck to you: Van Halen - "Hear About It Later"

NOTE: The vinyl link above does not link to a static page, it runs a search on GEMM. When I ran it, I had the vinyl-only filter on, but an 8-track still managed to slip through. If it's still there... you're welcome.

Okay, next week I'll stick with the theme of guitar virtuosity (and believe me, the Shelf does not lack for wank power) but move away from metal. Till Monday...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love every DLR Van Halen album equally so i guess i'm off the A-list and consequently not a fan. VH2, Women and Children First, and Diver Down are all great even though they didn't make your list. 1984 came out during high school right around the time I smoked doobies every day. Don't you think Dinosaur JR. ripped off 1984 album cover for Green Mind? DLR tells a great story about how to roll a doobie with a van halen album.