Van Halen - "1984" 37th Anniversary
Released on this day in 1984, Van Halen's sixth and final studio album featuring all four original members of Van Halen is released. The album would be the first studio recording at Edward's home studio, 5150, a hint of the coming future and the beginning of the end of an era.
"1984," would be the definitive change in creative direction for Van Halen, as Edward Van Halen would push back against David Lee Roth and producer Ted Templeman by bringing keyboards to the foreground of their studio sound. It worked.
Edward Van Halen played a Wurlitzer Electric Piano through a Marshall amplifier, disguised with his famous flanger effect, on 1980's "And The Cradle Will Rock," (Woman And Children First). Eddie also played an Electro-Harmonix Micro Synthesizer on 1981's "Saturday Afternoon In The Park (Fair Warning). This micro synth was essentially a kid's toy, again with Ed's hot rod delay and phase/flange effects in the mix. Eddie is noted as saying it sounds "like Godzilla waking up." The instrumental fits the mood of the album "Fair Warning" perfectly.
Fans who consider themselves "Van Halen purists" continue to rip the band 35 years later for the opening tracks "1984," (instrumental) and "Jump," which many believe contributed to the most famous breakup since The Beatles. Many of these same "purists," continue to hate on Sammy Hagar era Van Halen for all the "love songs" and keyboards as if Sammy came into the 5150 Studio waving around a loaded revolver, forcing Edward over onto the keyboard. Misplaced resentment and unaddressed personal issues age worse than most 1980s haircuts. A story for another day.
"1984" spends five weeks at number two on Billboard's Top 200 album chart and would eventually sell more than 10 million copies. Four singles are released from the album, including guitar hits "Hot For Teacher," and "Panama," and keyboard centered songs "I'll Wait," and the number one single "Jump."
Van Halen; Alex & Edward Van Halen, David Lee Roth and Michael Anthony, set the trajectory for Rock Music with their 1978 debut album and would dominate the 1980s concert circuit with their first six albums (1978 - 1985).
The rise of the music video in the early 1980s, the success of MTV and Van Halen's funny, quirky and sexy videos helped push David Lee Roth's crotch and Edward Van Halen's smile into every American living room. The radio singles and MTV videos propelled Van Halen to super stardom. "Panama" is Van Halen firing on all cylinders. Kickass guitar, thunderous drumming and harmonies, sleazy breakdown; a triumphant stadium anthem.
"Hot For Teacher" is as if I wrote it myself. Ms. Swanson. 1984. 7th Grade Science. I brought my pencil.
"1984" was the end of an era, as David Lee Roth would leave the band in the spring of 1985. The album finishes with a killer one-two combination of "Girl Gone Bad," and "House Of Pain." This live clip from the 1983 Us Festival deserves mention. During "Somebody Get Me A Doctor," Edward and Alex break into an instrumental jam during which the Van Halen brothers immediately attack each other's sense of timing and riffing with the early workings of "Girl Gone Bad.' The brothers killer jam is a soulful and blistering. Each trying to tease and trip up the other until the full band spills over into Cream's "I'm So Glad." In 1983, nobody threw a Rock & Roll party like Van Halen, the perfect headliner for the Us Festival.
"1984" is the sort of album that's meant to be played front to back, start to finish. Be an adult about it and crank it up. The neighbors need to know.