Van Halen (1978)

Imagine me sitting on the toilet last week, taking a dump while reading the MOJO Classic – The Ultimate Collectors Edition* – The Who & the Story of ’70s Rock (2006) special issue. Along with other articles that, to be honest, you would find in any normal issue of the magazine, there was a feature entitled 70 From the ’70s purporting itself to be a compendium of “the greatest albums from rock’s golden decade.” This sort of thing is, of course, lazy journalism designed to fill pages and provoke geeks (“Where’s Gang of Four’s Entertainment?!”), analogous to those list-type shows usually aired on TV around Christmas time (e.g. 100 Greatest Toys, etc.) in which talking heads recount specious anecdotes about some stupid shit or other; it’s lazy telly for lazy people by lazy programmers. So everybody wins.

As is the way with these things, MOJO’s “greatest albums from rock’s golden decade” included usual suspects (Exile, Who’s Next, Dark Side, Bollocks, Physical Graffiti), relatively obscure crit faves (No Other, Clear Spot, Marquee Moon), records which didn’t belong there because they’re not that good (Pacific Ocean Blue, Ram, Kimono My House), as well as mega-popular, but nonetheless really good records (RumoursRocks). Among this latter group was the first Van Halen Lp. Certainly, if any record epitomises late 70s/early 80s midwestern US teenage Friday night running around, it is this; and as I grunted and quacked away on the head, I began to grow sad and berate myself for my non-possession of Van Halen.

Now, the Buddha is right to tell us that desire is the root of unhappiness, but, basically, fuck the Buddha because two days later I picked up Van Halen (still in plastic, though not sealed) as part of the Hythe Malt House thrifted-records-for-used-records deal. It is as good as I remember, though in a strange production tic designed, I suspect, to highlight the bandleader’s chops, a number of tracks on side two feature Eddie’s axe panned mostly to one side like on 60s stereo records; it sounds a bit unbalanced and may be the last time it happened on a major label album.

Erm, and actually, don’t imagine me sitting on the toilet.

*What does that even mean?

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Published in: on June 15, 2012 at 10:17 am  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. is it the american way to say “taking a dump”, or is it that you’ve just picked up the local slang since moving here? also, do yankees still use the word “john” to describe the toilet (sorry – bathroom or restroom, neither of which imply their true purpose… and i thought us brits were the diffident ones!), like they used to in 70’s tv and films?

    regarding the list, obviously “no other” and “clear spot” are far too obscure for me as i haven’t got a clue what the full titles are or who did them… also, i had to think really hard to remember that aerosmith made an album called “rocks”, as although they may have sold lorryloads of records in the states in the 70’s they never really made it here in good old blighty until “pump” came out in the late 80’s!

  2. “…dump” is, as far as I was concerned, purely American; I can only assume “john” has currency, though, I’ve abandoned the coy “bathroom”/”restroom” euphemisms since my time spent with the more earthy British.

    No Other is by former Byrd Gene Clark and is really good epic folk rock. Clear Spot is by Capt. Bee-Fart and I’ve never heard it. Rocks is an excellent hard rock album.

  3. thanks for that asbo – i know this has nothing to do with records found in charity shops, but if you’re like me then i presume you also find tiny differences in our cultures of some fascination (particularly as you have chosen to come and live here), not just by using different words to describe the same thing, but even the differences in how the same things are pronounced…

    a great example is “robin hood” – us brits always pronounce it with the emphasis on the surname (hood), but whenever americans refer to the man (and they seem to do so curiously frequently despite him being a 1000 year old legend from the “old” country) it comes out as RAAABN hood! even that most english of ac-tors patrick stewart was made to pronounce the name in that fashion in an episode of “star trek the next generation”… on a related point, we both pronounce the place he supposedly came from incorrectly: we say “nottingum” and you say “nodding-haam”!

  4. Two countries separated by a common language, or so says G.B. Shaw.


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