Van Halen - "Live on Air" CD Review (Southworld) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Friday, October 07, 2011

Van Halen - "Live on Air" CD Review (Southworld)

Van Halen - 'Live on Air' CD Review (Southworld)This disc came out last year but I only recently became aware of the "copyright gap" in the UK where previously unheard-of British labels are releasing live radio broadcasts under the premise that the broadcasts are public domain in the US which would make these shows public domain in the UK.

The good news is that this disc marks the first 'official' release of Van Halen's headlining set at the US Festival, which took place on May 29, 1983. This is also the first commercially available live recording of the band with David Lee Roth. I've read reviews of this show which said that the band was pretty drunk before taking the stage (check out the video below of Roth forgetting the words to the set opener) and this show captures the sloppy party rock of classic Van Halen. It is a fun performance as the band's set is loose and they take some chances with the material. David Lee Roth is at his peak and shows why he is one of the more entertaining frontmen in the business and the Diver Down tour marked Eddie's last hurrah as a guitar hero before he got lost in the keyboard and synths of 1984 and the pop of the Sammy-era discs.

Looking at this disc from the other side of the coin (aka: "the bad news") - guess what do you get when you try to fit a 120 minute concert onto a 72 minute CD? The answer is that ~40 minutes were cut out of the concert. Unfortunately, some of the songs are faded out early. "Cathedral" was cut from the middle of the set and so was the encore ("Bottoms Up" and "You Really Got Me / Happy Trails"). The mix is also a bit strange as it appears to be from the soundboard (as the crowd is behind the band) but it is rather unbalanced.

Here is the set list:
1) Romeo Delight
2) Unchained ~ Drum Solo
3) Full Bug
4) Runnin with the Devil
5) Jamie's Cryin
6) So This is Love
7) Little Guitars
8) Dancing in the Street
9) Somebody Get Me a Doctor (includes Girl Gone Bad & I'm So Glad)
10) Dance the Night Away
11) Secrets
12) Everybody Wants Some
13) Ice Cream Man
14) Pretty Woman
15) Ain't Talking Bout Love

Despite this disc's flaws, Van Halen was one of the better live acts during the early 80's and this disc does a good job of showing why the band deserved this reputation. The price point is also a winner as you can buy the disc new through Amazon's UK site for just over $10 (USD).

Jumping forward to the present, according to Ultimate Classic Rock:
"Van Halen‘s long awaited new studio album is completely finished and expected to hit stories in February of 2012, according to an inside source. The new record, the band’s first since 1998′s ‘III,’ and first with original lead singer David Lee Roth since 1984′s ’1984,’ has been the source of much speculation over the past few months.

No title or tracklist has been revealed for the new album yet, which is described, similarly as by other people who have heard it, as a modern-day revisiting of the classic Van Halen sound. The source said a record company had yet to be chosen, with two unnamed major labels reportedly bidding for the right to work with the band.

Van Halen