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David Lee Roth - Eat 'Em and Smile

On July 7, 1986 David Lee Roth released "Eat 'Em and Smile", his first full-length solo album following his departure from "Van Halen".

David Lee Roth's first solo release was the "Crazy from the Heat" EP which he released in 1985, while still a member of "Van Halen". The EP consisting of cover versions of songs with dissimilar style from "Van Halen", became a surprise hit. This would probably give roth the confodence that he can get by by himself.

After leaving "Van Halen", Roth sought to assemble a top-tier band to solidify his solo career. He recruited a "dream team" cosisting guitar virtuoso Steve Vai, renowned for his technical prowess and unique style, bassist Billy Sheehan, known for his exceptional speed and precision, and drummer Gregg Bissonette, whose versatility and power provided a solid rhythmic foundation. This lineup, often referred to as the "Eat 'Em and Smile Band," brought together some of the most talented musicians of the era.

The album title, "Eat 'Em and Smile," is a reflection of Roth's flamboyant personality and approach to music. It conveys a sense of confidence, bravado, and a playful attitude, all hallmarks of Roth's stage presence and public persona. This title encapsulates the album's spirit, inviting listeners to enjoy the music with a carefree and joyful attitude. But, it may also be a kind of a "sting" on his mother band "Van Halen", which earlyer that year released "5150" it's firs album with Sammy Hagar. Indeed this option becomes more relevant when you look at the next "Van Halen" album title: "OU812" pronounced "Oh You Ate One Too".

From the very first track, "Yankee Rose," listeners are greeted with the electrifying guitar work of Steve Vai. Vai's virtuosity is a standout feature throughout the album, bringing a unique and dynamic sound that complements Roth's larger-than-life vocal style. The chemistry between Roth and Vai is palpable already in the first seconds of the song, creating a compelling interplay that drives the album forward.

The rhythm section, featuring Billy Sheehan on bass and Gregg Bissonette on drums, provides a solid and energetic foundation. Sheehan's bass lines are intricate and powerful, adding depth to the songs, while Bissonette's drumming is precise and hard-hitting. This combination results in a tight, cohesive sound that keeps the energy high from start to finish.

Tracks like "Goin' Crazy!", "Elephant Gun" and "Shyboy" (which Billy Sheehan brought in from his previous band "Talas") are pure rock anthems, filled with catchy hooks, infectious energy, and Roth's signature charisma. His playful and theatrical vocal delivery injects a sense of fun and excitement into each song, making the album a joy to listen to. But what's really shine out on this album is the amazing work of Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan on guitar and bass respectively. Throughout the album the two would often sync complicated basslines and lead guitar parts on a way never heard before. Gregg Bissonette also add his part to the musical "Dream Team", in a very technical and unique druming, just lisen to the special precussion additions in the song "Goin' Crazy!" and you will know what we mean.

However, the album isn't just about high-octane rockers. Similar to his "Crazy from the Heat" EP, Roth included three covers on the album: "That's Life", which was a minor hit at the end of 1986, "I'm Easy", and John D. Loudermilk's folk-blues song "Tobacco Road". These Songs bring a touch of humor and a different musical flavor to the mix. These tracks demonstrate Roth's ability to step outside the hard rock genre and explore other musical styles, all while maintaining his distinctive personality.

It is intersting to note, that a version of "Kids in Action" originally by Kim Mitchell ("Max Webster"), was also recorded for the album, but did not make it to the final cut. Billy Sheehan was briefly a member of Max Webster, and tried to bring this song to the album.

The production quality of "Eat 'Em and Smile" is top-notch, with a clear and punchy sound that highlights the individual talents of each band member. The album's mix balances the various elements perfectly, ensuring that both the instrumentation and vocals shine through.

Overall, "Eat 'Em and Smile" is a strong debut solo effort from David Lee Roth. It captures the essence of his wild and irreverent persona while delivering a collection of songs that are both musically impressive and incredibly entertaining.

For Listening: Spotify, Apple Music

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