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.
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. For the next 7 weeks, we will go through those singles in release order. And first up is “Dance the Night Away” from 1979.
For the band’s second album, “Dance the Night Away” was the first single released for the album. The copy I have is actually a promotional copy so the song “Dance the Night Away” is on both sides. Why is that you may ask. That is because as a promotional copy this was sent to radio stations. The first side has the song in Mono and B-Side is the same song but in Stereo. That way the radio station could use the side that fit their format if they were either an AM Radio station or an FM, I presume. The song is I believe the album track and not a edited version so nothing special about it other than it is cool.
The song was originally titled “Dance, Lolita, Dance” according to David Lee Roth, but Edward Van Halen thankfully talked him out of it. The song was one of the few off Van Halen II that were actually conceived in the studio and done so when the band was standing in a circle humming to each other. And according to Wiki, the song was inspired by Fleetwood Mac’s song “Go Your Own Way” which I can see. The song is a little more upbeat and less hard rock and maybe even more pop rock.
I was out for Record Store Day in September and while waiting in line to buy my RSD purchases, this was sitting at the top of the shelf staring at me. I swear I heard it calling my name…”John, buy me!”. I stopped, looked around, no one else in the store heard it, but it said it, I know it did!! Now who was I to argue. I grabbed it, give it a quick once over and when I saw that it was a bootleg of demos from the Van Halen album “Women and Children First”, SOLD!! I mean look at the cover. They took the original album cover and made it way cooler. And to match the cover, the vinyl is even red to go with the stripes. Sweet!
I took it home and couldn’t wait to hear it. Now, I just bought several record store day items and I was way more excited about this album then the RSD purchases. And after listening to it, I am still more excited. Being a bootleg, I was worried about the sound quality of the demos and let me tell you, it was fantastic. These demos have been floating around for awhile and they are normally very muddied down and a little rough. These have been cleaned up nicely. The sound is crisp and clear and though they do sound like demos, they are also pretty damn cool.
I was out the weekend after Eddie Van Halen passed away casually digging for records with no intent of really looking for anything. I was still a little down from him passing and nothing makes me feel better than digging through stacks and stacks of records (my wife and kids, of course make me feel better as well). I digging through a small batch of 45’s and this was nonchalantly hiding in that batch. I pulled it out and the owner of the store said “that must of slipped through as I completely sold out of everything Van Halen this week”…no surprise.
The single is really cool as it is a gatefold housed in a clear PVC sleeve. It also includes a mini 4-panel poster with each panel being a member of the band, naturally. The single itself was the same single as the one issued in 1984 and strangely has “Little Dreamer” from the debut album as the B-Side.
The Red Rocker himself, Sammy Hagar, is up next for this edition of Tuesday’s Memes. And why shouldn’t he be. The man is a legend…a rocker, a tequila genius and a man that doesn’t age and knows how to live life to the fullest. I am supposed to see him this Summer in concert, but don’t know if that will happen. Whitesnake already had to pull out, but I might still go as it will be Sammy, Night Ranger and hopefully some other great band. I just hope we are able to get out by the time that rolls around in July. Until then, enjoy these memes on Mr. Sammy…
For My Sunday Song #150, we are ending the Van Halen set of 10 songs with “Mean Street” off the album “Fair Warning”. The song reached #13 on the Mainstream Rock station and help propel the album to #5 on the Billboard charts. It is the opening track and the song were the title of the album comes.
The song comes blazing out of the gate with the vintage Eddie style riffs that scream…I am the best guitarist and don’t you forget it!! The opening was inspired by the slap funk bass style and I would say there is nothing the man can’t do with a guitar. Then the song gets dirty and a little nasty. Musically and Lyrically, it is a dark song for the band. I also love the fade out at the end with those wicked guitar parts Ed is playing while it is fading out.
The song seems to be about life on the streets. The pain and agony of living on the street and the fighting to stay alive. The streets will basically chew you up and spit you out. Funny thing, the band aren’t from the streets so they really have no idea about “mean streets” now do they. Don’t get me wrong, that takes away nothing from the song. It is badass and delivered very convincingly.
For My Sunday Song #149, we are not going real deep for this one. We are going to one of their big hits and a personal favorite called “Panama” off the album ‘1984’. The song reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100. For me, the song brings back memories of my Senior Trip in High School when we went to Panama City, Florida…the song was blasting in the car on the way down!!
The song has two theories behind its meaning. The first is it is about a car and the second theory is it is about a stripper. The lyrics work either way as it is a wonderful double entendre. The song does mention all the typical car parts and hell there is even a part during the bridge where you hear an engine revving. That car engine is actually Eddie’s 1972 Lamborghini Miura S with a mic up to its tailpipe.
The album 1984 brought the keyboard sound into the bands music, but this song would have none of that. It had Eddie blasting through some brutal riffs and Alex was pounding away at the drums and the brothers gave us the Van Halen of old. Dave is his classic self and is belting out the lyrics and even giving us a little of that spoken verse style he does so famously towards the end.
For My Sunday Song #148, we go with “Pleasure Dome” off the album “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge”. This is the second one off this album I have done and for good reason, it was the first Sammy led album I actually liked but that is for another time and place. The song was never a single, but a B-Side to the song “Poundcake” and I am not sure which one I like more.
The song is actually based on Rush’s song “Xanadu” from what I can gather and that is not a bad song for inspiration. And…a “Pleasure Dome” could be referring to the poem “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coolidge. Of course, Kubla Khan’s empire was known as Xanadu so the connection is complete (maybe, I am just piecing together bits and pieces from what I found on the song).
The song is a strong showcase of Alex’s stellar drumming and after doing “Everybody Wants Some” with a strong drum sound, why not continue with another that showcases Alex. Alex has a very distinct sound he creates with his drumming and there is so much on here that fills the song. It is one of the main things I take away from it.
Lyrically, it reminds me a little of “Everybody Wants Some” as well with how Sammy talks out a lot of the lyrics like Dave was doing. The lyrics seem to be about Sammy taking some drug tripping journey in his mind or in the universe or wherever. He is getting lost and further away from home with no escape. I don’t know what it really means, but it is fantastic trip.
For My Sunday Song #147, Van Halen’s song “Everybody Wants Some” will get the royal treatment this week. The song is off the album “Women and Children First” and the second one I have done from that album (because it is that good). The song was never a a single, but a B-Side to the song “And the Cradle Will Rock”.
The opening of the song is the tribal drum beat by Alex with Dave making some little noises in the background and Eddie comes in with that sinister riff. The music sounds menacing and when they kick it in to full gear, it is a slammin’ rock song. Eddie’s guitar playing on the solo has him two-handing the fretboard on his guitar and really breaking new ground as usual. The driving force though is Alex with that drum beat throughout. Really killer.
Lyrically, there isn’t much there. It is a pure sex song and Dave’s talking vocal performance is the star here. His vocals sound almost like he is ad-libbing the whole thing. Just making it up as he goes along, but it works so well. The first line on the second verse is “I Seen a Lotta People Lookin’ for a Moonbeam”, but seriously, can you understand one word of what he says…except for maybe moonbeam? No, as I don’t think he knew what the hell he was saying. The song ends with Dave going “Look, I’ll pay you for it, What the fuck”, but the “fuck” is not really audible with the way they phase it out the sound.
For My Sunday Song #145, we are tackling “Atomic Punk” which is off Van Halen’s debut album. The space age song is a very deep cut and was never released as a single, but was the B-Side to “You Really Got Me”. It is one of those gems that only the true fans listen to probably more than some of the band’s big hits (maybe that is just me) I believe it helped drive the sales to way above 10 million copies.
The song is a sci-fi song about a dystopian society and Dave is the leader of this rag-tag crew. The opening of the song has these space age sounds coming from Eddie’s guitar almost like a space ship sound. Eddie captures the sound by rubbing his palm over the strings with the guitar going through one of his pedals. It is captivating.
Lyrically, there isn’t a whole lot here. Not in context or theme, but in length. This is more of a showcase for more of what Eddie can do. Not to take anything from Dave as he delivers the lyrics earnestly and convincingly as it does set the tone for the dark feel of the song. But it is Eddie’s guitar playing that is again in full force with all the tricks he throws at you. You hear something a little different and new each time you listen.