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David Lee Roth, John 5, And You: A Crash Course

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DLR Band David Lee Roth John 5
Album sounds nothing like this pic suggests :)

On Tuesday, we at MetalSucks bonerly reported the announcement that John “John 5” Lowery secretly completed a second album with Van Halen’s David Lee Roth. Fans of John 5’s work with Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, and his awesome solo records must be excited, as must Dave’s legion of followers and the handful of listeners who love their first pairing.

But should you care about the intersection of country-inflected industrial-metal virtuosity and party rock from Pasedena? Did you notice their first collaboration from 16 years ago when J5 was a burgeoning new talent and DLR was coasting to a pre-VH-reunion rest? Do their combined talents truly represent an irresistible combination? Will they present a cohesive album this time (see below)? Let’s see if u jam!

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It’s true that DLR Band (the album) is easily overlooked: Last week we discussed its low profile and chalked that up to its indie release, its lack of promotion, and the kinda random touring that followed it. But that’s only half the story, for the album eluded renown for other, deeper reasons. For one thing, its lead track “Slam Dunk” kinda contradicts itself; Diamond Dave vocals sound their most strained (to that point), yet he states in its bridge that his “game is better than ever” and names himself as an immortal legend. That last part is true, but even a feisty, propulsive jam like “Slam Dunk” isn’t exactly evidence of that; in other words,1998 was not DLR’s moment to embrace a minimalist approach to production. More accurate: “My discovery of drummers like Ray Luzier and guitarists like John 5 is better than ever, but not my voice’s upper register.”

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Over 14 songs, this album has a lot of gems to brandish proudly, yet where past Dave albums comprised jams by several songwriting partners, DLR Band’s jams are performed by no fewer than three band configurations (and three guitarists). Not exactly disparate but not really cohesive, the album plays a bit like three EPs on shuffle. His hit albums play like unified collections of awesome.

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By 1998, few would expect Diamond Dave to connect with a young audience, yet most would advise him against embarrassing his aged audience via lyrics that reference faxes, chat rooms, and search engines. Still, “Counter Blast” is hardly a loss, for in swoops John 5 with a trademark solo.

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Speaking of John 5 trademarks, behold “Little Texas,” an ass-tight country-rocker and highlight of any album — especially one belonging to the ailing hard rock genre in 1998. It’s also one of a few requisite jams on this DLR solo album whose beat riffs on the shuffle from “Hot For Teacher.” Annnd at least one Luzier superfan was born!

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One of the oddest, most memorable, and awesomest albums ever is called Hit & Run Holiday by My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. It’s a shocker, a dazzling collection of kitchy cult-movie go-go pop from a gang of Chicago druggie devil worshippers who once were content to program a beat then sit back all stoned and trigger samples of scary movie quotes. I always wished, though, that someday MLWTKK would “guitar up” like their peers in Ministry, Front Line Assembly, and NIN. And who the fuck knew that my wish would come true via David Lee Roth, guitarist Mike Hartman, and drummer Ray Luzier?! Crank. This. Shit. All. The. Way. Up.

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Besides sharing a name with DLR Band‘s producer (?) and label (??), “Wawazat!” shares a riff with Steel Panther’s “The Burden Of Being Wonderful.” It also sums up Dave’s (and my) philosophy: “The only adventures that I regret are the ones I’ve missed/And the thought of all the pretty girls I never tried to kiss.” I wonder if Dave’s reason for not trying to kiss them was the same as mine: mace.

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For two bittersweet songs that conclude the album’s first and second halves, Dave reconnected with Terry Kilgore, the guitarist of his major label swan song Your Filthy Little Mouth (1994). Each begins with an interlude to catch our breath by, then sets up Diamond Dave the good-humored old-timer and Diamond Dave the zen master, respectively. The latter narrates “Black Sand,” a perfect song that nonetheless lends to the vibe of disunity on DLR Band via two sub-awesome guitar solos. But it’s a fantastic send-off to listeners of a hard-working but flawed album from one of entertainment’s all-time greats.

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Are you now totally pumped for that next DLR/J5 album? Will it come out anytime soon? Is it too late for me to run a fine-toothed comb over it in advance of release this time lol?

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