On January 9, 1984, "Van Halen" released their sixth studio album "MCMLXXXIV", also known as "1984".
It's David Lee Roth's last studio album with the band and the last album featuring all four original members. David Lee Roth will return to the band in 2007 and release the reunion album "A Different Kind of Truth" from 2012, but the one who will play bass in the reunion and record the album, is Wolfgang Van Halen - son of Eddie Van Halen, who will replace Michael Anthony.
David Lee Roth's departure was partially due to a controversy over the band's musical line, with Eddie Van Halen seeking to make the band's sound rely on a synthesizer, while David Lee Roth sought to stay with the guitar sound that characterized the band's first four albums. As a result, this album can be seen as a combination of the two opposing styles of Eddie and David, with tracks like "1984", "Jump" and "I'll Wait" being led by synthesizer, while tracks like "Panama", "House of Pain"and "Hot for Teacher" is based on guitar.
There is no doubt that this combination of Synth-Pop and Metal Blades created an amazing crossover effect that sent this album straight to the top of the charts and sales and opened the band to a wider audience. But beyond the commercial success, this album has a solid core of amazing rock tracks with an excellent production by Ted Templeman, who presents us with “Van Halen” at its peak.
It is interesting to note that this album and the debut album "Van Halen", are the most successful from the band, with sales of over 10 million copies each. This can be seen as a kind of closure for David Lee Roth, making his first and last album with "Van Halen" the best-selling in its history.
Unlike all of the band's previous albums, which were recorded in less than two weeks (the debut album was recorded in only five days), the recording of "1984" took about a year. During this time Eddie Van Halen played guitar on Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album, which by the way would prevent "1984" from reaching first place on the Billboard charts. He also built his home studio "5150", which is the number of the section of "the Welfare and Institutions Code", which allows a person with a mental illness to be involuntarily detained for a 72-hour.
Eddie Van Halen felt dissatisfied with the concessions he made being pressured by Templeman and David Lee Roth on the previous album "Diver Down", from 1982. During the sessions for that album, Roth rejected the idea of developing Eddie's synthesizer riff, this riff would later become the song "Jump". Templeman for his part pushed the band to record a relatively large amount of cover version songs included in "Diver Down", to Eddie's displeasure. Eddie's dissatisfaction led him to build his own studio and as a result, the album "1984" was recorded there where he had more influence than any other album of the band to date.
The influences that Eddie brought with him are evident from the first second of the album, which opens up with the short synthesized instrumental section of "1984", which is a kind of bridge to the song "Jump" with the most "bouncy" synthesizer riff we know in music. Eddie Van Halen has shown greatness and innovation here. The "guitar wizard" did not hesitate, he put the instrument he is so identified with aside, and created a song based entirely on a synthesizer riff. Would you believe it?? How much courage and what an extraordinary talent. And what a melodic, double and amazing solo we got here. It starts with a guitar solo designed to remind us that this is still one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time, and continues with a wonderful synthesizer solo, in which Eddie demonstrates insane control of the instrument he started playing at age 6. This song "jumps" straight to number one on the charts being the only "Van Halen" song to top the charts.
Immediately afterward we meet with the perfect contrast to the first two tracks of the album, in the form of "Panama", with Eddie's sweeping guitar riff, which leans on the strong rhythm of Michael Anthony and Alex Van Halen. This is the third single released from the album and without a doubt one of the band's biggest hits. How beautiful the transition section of the song is with the recitation of David Lee Roth and the screaming engine sounds of Eddie Van Halen's Lamborghini car, recorded with microphones attached to its exhaust pipe. Lee Roth's song style and recitation in the middle of the song remind us very much of what he would do two years later as part of his solo career, with the song "Yankee Rose".
Next comes "Top Jimmy" which serves as a tribute to James Paul Konczek from "Top Jimmy & The Rhythm Pigs" and immediately after comes "Drop Dead Legs" which Eddie noted was inspired by "Back In Black" by "AC/DC", we also heard quite a bit of "Aerosmith" there.
The other side of the album opens up with another hit with a sex-dripping video that appeals to the band's younger audience - "Hot For Teacher". The powerful drumming in the opening was achieved through 4 bass drums played by Alex Van Halen, who also holds the rhythm here in an amazing way. What a crazy and perfect performance of Eddie playing the "Gibson flying V" guitar that allows him to transit between the quiet and noisy sections with the help of the pick-ups. By the way, his solo in this song reached 46th place in the list of the greatest solos of all time by "Guitar World" magazine, probably also due to the rhythm changes.
The next song "I'll Wait" is the second song dominated by synthesizers and is the second single released from the album. It was a very controversial song that created a lot of turmoil within the band, since David Lee Roth and Ted Templeman did not want it on the album, but Eddie Van Halen refused. The song is also unique since there is no bass playing during the verses and the first chorus and it is also the only song on the album written with the help of Michael McDonald from "The Doobie Brothers".
From here we come to one of our favorite tracks on the album, "Girl Gone Bad", which showcases the amazing abilities of the band members. It just sounds like a very fine jam with a long and dramatic opening of arpeggio chords by Eddie Van Halen, with Michael's bass slowly creeping in, and then comes the part with Eddie's amazing guitar line sync with Alex's "dribbles" at 0:38, which surely Inspired "Dream Theater". What a great rhythm and what a groove. We even were able to hear here a little "Rush" here...
"House of Pain" closes the album in high hand. It is a classic "Van Halen" song, that originated in the band's first days, dating back to the era of demos recorded with Gene Simmons, before the band signed a recording contract with "Warner".