Van Halen – “Pretty Woman” – 45 Single

When I was on vacation during this past Summer, I found a ton of 45 Singles with the Picture Sleeves at a place called House of Vinyl and I ended buying 7 Van Halen 45’s. First up last week was “Dance the Night Away” from 1979. And second we have the song “Pretty Woman” off the band’s album ‘Diver Down’ from 1982.

The copy I found was interesting to me. First was the fact the song was called “Pretty Woman” and not “(Oh) Pretty Woman”. When the single was first released, it went without the (Oh) part of the title and later issues corrected that and put the (Oh) back in. So that tells me I have an original issue copy. The second thing I found interesting is that the back cover of the picture sleeve has the flip side being “Happy Trials” which was actually the B-Side on the album. However, this copy is a promotional copy and it only has “Pretty Woman” on Side A and Side B. One Mono version and one Stereo version like the last one. That got me thinking was this in the wrong cover and what I can find is that it is not. It looks like they slipped the Promo copies in the same sleeve as the actual single to the public at least according to what I found on Discogs.

Another thing I thought was cool about the label on the Single was how the Engineer, Donn Landee, was actually listed. That does not happen very often. According to Ted Templeman’s book, he feels that he couldn’t be as a good as a producer he was without the help of an amazing engineer and Donn was that to him. He wanted Donn to get as much credit for these albums and songs as he did so he had his name added. Pretty freaking cool if you ask me.

The single the band chose to kick off this album was a cover song from Roy Orbison called “Pretty Woman”. I find it an odd choice to do another cover, but in fact there are 5 covers on the ‘Diver Down’ album and that is conversation for another time. The song was written by Roy and Bill Dees and stems from an incident that happened during a conversation they were having. When Roy and Bill were talking, Roy’s wife interrupted and said she was going out and Roy politely asked her if she had enough money. Bill spoke up and said “A pretty woman never needs any money” and then a song was born.

The Van Halen version sticks pretty much to the sound and vibe of the original. The big differences are the drums are pure Alex and there is a pretty cool guitar sound that is pure Edward. David Lee Roth gives off the same Orbison vibes, but he is lacking that quintessential Orbison vocal sound. He does give it the Roth flair and his own cocky style. It is a fun song, but a poor choice for a single in my opinion. This sounds straight from and no different mix for the single so nothing new or special about it other than a cool promo copy.

Now the video for the song is not just the song “Pretty Woman”, it also has the instrumental song preceding the song on the album called “Intruder”. They did that to make the song longer for MTV.

I hope you enjoyed the song and we will see you next week with another Van Halen single. Thanks for hanging with us for a short time.

32 thoughts on “Van Halen – “Pretty Woman” – 45 Single

  1. I sit in the Van Hagar camp with this band mainly due to my distaste for ‘Diamond’ Dave but there’s no getting away with how much gold there is in those early days and Diver Down has both Cathedrals and Little Guitars on it. I think it was a combo of a rush job – they were pushed into the album after this single’s success – which meant they didn’t have time to write enough original material and the label’s belief that they’d have more chance of hits by covering songs that had already been successful. Curious to see what else you picked up

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    1. Dave’s not the best singer, but he was an awesome frontman. There is something about the early songs that I love. The Hagar songs are way more mature sounding, but I don’t know if they have the “edge” that the early stuff has. As far as the rest, some more Roth and several Hagar ones coming.

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          1. I figure you’ve been everywhere by now man!

            I’m told Jerry’s Records is absolutely massive, and legendary. Same guy got me some Triumph, Helix and David Lee Roth promo 12″ singles. The Helix is red vinyl! All from Jerry’s.

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  2. Diver Down was the first Van Halen cassette I ever owned, so for that it will always hold a special place for me, and at the time I loved a lot of it. As I grew older and wiser I quickly learned that this was easily the weakest of the DLR-lead albums but I still enjoy this song and a few others.
    As for this video, oh my goodness. Just goes to show that if you do enough drugs any idea can sound good….
    Ok guys listen up – we’re going to have a couple of dwarfs sexually assaulting a woman who will be tied up… you guys are going to rescue her except that Alex, you’re going to be dressed like Tarzan, and Eddie you’ll be a gunslinger, and Michael you’ll be a Japanese warrior, and David we’re going to dress you like Adam Ant…

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    1. I know, that video is messed up. But most back in the day were strange and that seemed to work. I think they through out every idea in the book just to see what would stick and Van Halen said yes to all of it.

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  3. I agree with everyone here. Diver Down was definitely a weaker album, but has some bright spots. Little Guitars is a cool track. I’ll always have a place in my stereo for Big Bad Bill. As for Pretty Woman, I can remember the video too. Looking back on it now, all I can think of is how much fun the band had back in the day. I don’t know if there will ever be a frontman like Diamond Dave again. On a side note, imagine if he fulfilled his Hot for Teacher destiny and became a game show host, instead of going solo?

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  4. This was the first Van Halen record I ever bought…and probably the only. I had friends with the rest of their albums. They did a good job on this song…I like both versions for being what they are. I heard The Who do a take on the B side of Happy Trails so I knew it.

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