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VAN HALEN ANNOUNCE TOUR, ALBUM RELEASE DATE, BONERZ

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I got freaked out for a second when Van Halen no-showed for their rumored appearance at the Grammy noms party in late November. I was spooked by Hagar’s rumor-mongering and by the fact that these things can fall through. But I’m groovy now cuz over the holidays VH announced a 2012 tour (!) and a February 7 release date for their twelfth album (!!). Awesome!

Its title hasn’t been announced yet, but the good news is that the lead single comes out January 10, a tasty billboard went up in Times Square, and good vibes surround this promo clip of VH talking about the old days and this clip (scroll down a little) of Roth looking all fabulous while dancing or subdued and bearded with dog. And they’ve been rehearsing in secret over two months. That’s enough for me to trust this whole thing and thusly I am pumped for this tour! Think about it: These are the first shows since the invention of Fruit Roll-Ups where VH will play new material with David Lee Roth. Shit man!!

And while we’re talking setlist, I vote that VH specialify these shows even further by swapping out a few standards for some seldom-heard mega-jamz. I don’t endorse a vibe-killing focus on obscurities or a promoter-enraging set of only new stuff. Nothing radical. Just a few swaps of worn hits for some shit we’ve not heard in a while — like since said old days; I can think of a few deeper jamz that would be super-fun for everybody:

Song “Girl Gone Bad”
Album 1984 (1984)
Song it could replace “Atomic Punk”
Play this song cuz This late-album mega-jam from VH’s biggest album starts with a 60-second instrumental showcase of the fabulous Van Halen brothers — perfect for a side-stage breather/doober for Roth while fans gaze gooily at a Rush-level show of drum and guitar duet virtuosity.
Who’d be happy to hear it Prog types, greatest-hits fans, and forgetful stoners would like a reminder of Van Halen’s tech chops.
Singer stamina-o-meter Low. A pair of thin verses and low-impact choruses, plus an easily extendable quiet passage for crowd gab. For the latter, I’d script something like, “How we doin’ tonight? We all know what happens when a good girl goes bad, right? She goes bad … for good! OWWW!”

***

Song “Hear About It Later”
Album Fair Warning (1981)
Song it could replace “So This Is Love?”
Play this song cuz This overlooked gem on VH’s darkest album rules thanks to vintage Eddie-Michael Anthony backing vocals in its chorus, a furious Roth performance in its verses, and its lyrics’ slick diss of a hassling girlfriend.
Who’d be happy to hear it The fans who agree that the sweetly poppy “Hear About It Later” crushes its album-mate and live staple “So This Is Love?”; guitar geeks eager for Eddie to have a chance to rectify the album version’s shiteous solo (at 2:42).
Singer stamina-o-meter Moderate. Eddie and his son’s backing tracks do the heavy lifting; Roth has to get awesome only in the bridges really (at 2:26, 3:19).

***

Song “Could This Be Magic?”
Album Women And Children First (1980)
Song it could replace “Ice Cream Man”
Play this song cuz Nothing helps friendships for two ex-buds quite like sitting down with a pair of acoustic guitars. And via “Magic,” fans would be able to heap adulation on VH’s frontmen as they tap toes, finger-pick (Dave), and slide solo (Ed) in this 12-bar blues frolic. The performance would end with a hug — bet on that shit.
Who’d be happy to hear it Everybody. Why wouldn’t the entire human population of the venue — Alex, Wolfgang, roadies, floor staff — join in on its singalong chorus?
Singer stamina-o-meter No problem. The dustbowl charm of “Magic” is more akin to who Roth is today than, say, “Hot For Teacher.” He would go deep into this jam and plant it in our brains as the definitive post-reunion moment.

***

Song “In A Simple Rhyme”
Album Women And Children First (1980)
Song it could replace “Everybody Wants Some!”
Play this song cuz Well, um, it’s one of Van Halen’s two or three most furious songs. It’s the motherfucking jam. It rages, it twinkles, it slams the door on the show’s first set.
Who’d be happy to hear it Superfans in whose head the song’s opening bars would auto-play following “Could This Be Magic?”, which precedes in on the record.
Singer stamina-o-meter High. “Rhyme” asks a lot of Diamond Dave, no doubt. But just as its lead-in “Magic” mounts his song-and-dance-man persona, “Rhyme” dates back to 1976 when young Dave was possessed for a record deal, chicks, and drugz. If he could return to that moment — not possible via overplayed, context-stripped super hits — then “Rhyme” could make history. And make me throw my underwear on the stage.

***

Song “Secrets”
Album Diver Down (1982)
Song it could replace “Little Dreamer”
Play this song cuz Dude I had this cute gf in college who was a total robot but even she turned to mush whenever this lovely, bittersweet tune came on my stereo. And I bet ticket buyers would appreciate any and all help getting laid after the show.
Who’d be happy to hear it Anybody who hitherto unaware of Roth’s sweetly sentimental side; my boner.
Singer stamina-o-meter Low. For a chill jam like “Secrets,” Dave dials the volume down to four. Smoke one!

What VH jamz would you trade your ballz to hear? Am I asking too much of three guys in their late fifties with these deep cuts? Do you think they should’ve invited me to the Roxy rehearsals? 

 -ADF

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