After the disappointing sales of ‘Busted’, Cheap Trick left Epic Records and later signed a multi-album deal with Warner Brothers. The were under contract for 10 albums. Warner Brothers had high hopes for the band. Those hopes got the band a massive producer with the great Ted Templeman. Thanks to Ted, the album had a much heavier sound with way more guitar and way less keyboards. I couldn’t be happier with that idea.
The album was released on March 4, 1994 but didn’t sell like the label would’ve liked. The biggest reason was lack of promotion as the two reps that signed Cheap Trick had both been fired prior to release and as a result, the lack of promotion. Well duh, how can the label blame the band. I guess it doesn’t matter whose fault because the label dropped the band after one album. I guess that 10 album deal wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. The boys must have been very disheartened after that. Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Tom Peterrson and Bun E. Carlos were now 12 albums in to their career and now no label.
The band used a lot of outside writers again and some really big names like Jim Peterik, Michael Mcdonald, Mark Spiro, Terry Reid, Todd Cerney and Julian Raymond. The album also featured something different on the cover, the Cheap Trick logo was changed and the normal font was no more. The cover was also scary as hell as it had some clown molesting a woman or whatever he was about to do to her. Not the most flattering and I am missing the normal Robin & Tom on the front and Rick and Bun E. on the back.
Something big happened to the band on Valentine’s Day 1984. But at the time, they didn’t realize how big. While the band was playing a show at Boston’s Orpheum Theater, they received two special guests to see the show. It was former band mates Joe Perry and Brad Whitford. When the five original band members got in a room together, the magic started bubbling again. And by June 1984, the original band was reunited and were now out on the road for the Back in the Saddle Tour which would keep them busy until January 1985. One big thing that helped was that Perry was now divorced from his wife who the band and all their wives hated. And she wasn’t a great influence on Joe either. However, the drug problems were not gone.
After the tour, it was time for the big Comeback album. Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer…the boys were back together. They were now on a new label, Geffen, and the incredible producer, Ted Templeman was brought in to be behind the boards. This was supposed to be the album that brought Aerosmith back to the top, however, that didn’t happen.
Templeman was going for a rough and raw sound like the days of old for the band. He wanted to capture that tough, live sounding magic that they had on their earlier albums. He felt that was the sound everyone loved. A trick he used with the band was removing the “red light” in the studio that indicated the band was recording. He did this so the band wouldn’t get all stressed out when the light went. He wanted them loose and relaxed as he felt that would get the best sound. Hell, it worked for Van Halen. The problem was twofold, the band was still doing drugs and Ted was working in a studio he wasn’t familiar with so he never captured the sound he wanted. In fact, the band hates this album for that reason, especially Joey Kramer who thinks his drum sound sucks. And maybe it does. But this was my gateway in to the band. My first Aerosmith album I ever bought and as I result, I kinda like this one.
I have been reading so many Rock Books lately, some great, some not so great. When I heard Ted Templeman was putting out a book. I got real excited. I knew he produced all those David Lee Roth era Van Halen albums and thought, this will be great to learn all the behind the scenes stuff on Van Halen. But what I got was so much more.
Ted goes back to the beginning and explains his family life and what type of music he was raised around and he was definitely immersed in to music his whole life. I learned a lot as I didn’t know about his band Harper’s Bizarre from the late 60’s and they had minor hits. It was those albums where he started to learn the craft of producing and would eventually would lead to an A&R job with Warner Bros. Records where he would spend the next 25-30 years of his life climbing the ranks of the business, but always producing.
Being in California he met everyone from around that 70’s scene. Really cool all the people he met and a couple massive icons he saw recording in the studio. When we was learning the ropes, some of his contacts let him come in to the studio to watch and learn and one occasion he was able to witness Frank Sinatra record and was awed at his professionalism and his indelible knack to hit the right note every time. Another icon was Elvis Presley and to the same effect. I can only imagine how cool that had to be to experience.
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. And we’ve been through a few so far as seen below…
And now we are on to our fourth of the 7 and this is the final Roth Era track and was the second single from the album ‘1984’. The song “I’ll Wait” went to #13 on the Billboard Charts and despite its success, the band never filmed a video which totally surprises me as this the heyday of MTV. But it still worked for them without a video so they probably saved a ton of money. As most songs with Van Halen, the writing is always credited to Eddie Van Halen, David Lee Roth, Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony. But this time, Dave was having trouble with some of the lyrics and melody so Ted Templeman brought in his buddy Michael McDonald from the Doobie Brothers for which Ted produced their albums as well. Ted had a knack for using people he worked with on many projects.
The song was inspired by a media ad for Calvin Klein. I guess Dave really was taken by the hot model in the ad that he taped the picture next to his TV and all the lyrics are addressed to the model in the picture. Hey, whatever works right!
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. And we’ve been through a couple so far as seen below…
And now we are on to our third of the 7 and this is another Roth Era track and one of their biggest singles ever…”Jump”. The song was released on December 21, 1983 and was the first single for the album ‘1984’ from the same year. The single went all the way to #1 and sold well over 1,000,000 copies.
The copy I have is the actual single that was released and not a promotional copy this time around. It has an A-Side with “Jump” and a B-Side with “House of Pain”. And if you notice on the label again, the engineer Donn Landee is credited again as Ted is a man of his word and wants Donn to get as much credit has him. Hell, Ted even gave up a point on each album and gave 1 point to Donn. That is appreciation folks.
According to Dave, the song was inspired by a new report he heard on the TV about a person threatening to jump from building. Dave pictured the people below says “Go ahead and jump”. Kind of sick sense of humor, but that’s Dave. Now the song isn’t really about suicide though. It is about going after what you want. Take that leap of faith and go after it.
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.
We are at the final month of 2020 and thank the Heavens. I hope 2021 sees an end to Covid, but not an end to my music buying. This month we have another treasure trove of stuff I have obtained over not just the month, but the last 6 months as a couple things I ordered in prior months finally arrived. And being December, there is everything I got for Christmas that is music related.
First up this month are a couple things I bought back in April/May timeframe, right when Covid started. My brother saw these on the Facebook market from a friend of his and knew I would like it so I told him I wanted them and he bought them (I paid him back of course). I told him to hold them and I would be down to Atlanta soon and boy was I wrong. We are now in December and I haven’t been down. I eventually asked him to mail them. I got another Kiss Tour Book and this was from the Alive/Worldwide Tour (1996-97) and the other is The Ultimate Kiss Fanzine Phenomenon 1976-2009 hard back book. They are both awesome and will be reviewed in detail in 2021.
For My Sunday Song #141, we are now going to tackle 10 songs from Van Halen. They could be with David Lee Roth, Sammy Hager or even Gary Cherone on lead vocals. We will cover all the bases. First up will be “Unchained” off the band’s fourth album, ‘Fair Warning’. ‘Fair Warning’ came out in April 1981 and “Unchained” was the second single off the album released in July 1981, but I had also heard no singles were ever officially released so not sure what to believe. Either way, the song reached #13 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart.
The album suffered from poor sales, but the album was received very well by the critics. In fact, “Unchained” is often named as one of the best Van Halen songs of all time. I can’t say I disagree with that.
The song is noted for its use of the MXR M-117 Flanger which for us non-guitar people is a pedal used that can change the sound of the guitar. For the guitar people, It uses a Drop Db tuning with suspended fourth chords interspersed (thanks Wikipedia). Eddie made this effect very popular and helped increase the sales of such equipment. (Picture not actual EVH pedal).
The song also features producer Ted Templeman on vocals. During a point in the song, Dave is pontificating on and on and Ted jumps in and says “Come On Dave, Give Me a Break” and Dave replies, “Hey, hey, hey, hey, one break coming up!”. It is an awesome moment in the song.
For my third installment of The Debut, I have decided to take on the daunting task of discussing on what is regarded as one of the best debut albums in rock history, Van Halen’s debut simply called ‘Van Halen’. Why is it daunting? Because so many people have written about this album that there really is nothing I can add to the discussion other than my opinion which is probably no different than what has already been said.
We will start off with some general information about the album. The album was released on February 10th, 1978. I was only 9 at the time. It was produced by Ted Templeman who was famous for producing The Doobie Brothers, Van Morrison and Montrose (early Sammy Hagar connection). The album reached as high as only #19 on the charts and did sell over 1 million copies in its first year. It has now been certified Diamond Status with sells well over 10 million copies.
The band was originally discovered by Gene Simmons from the band KISS. Gene worked with the band and they did some demos, but nothing materialized as Gene headed back out on tour with his band. The ended up playing a lot of live shows around Hollywood including the Whiskey A Go Go and the Starwood. It was at the Starwood that they came to the attention of Mo Ostin & Ted Templeman with Warner Brothers Records. They later signed with Warner and went on to record their debut album.