Must Own Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Albums :
Artist : Van Halen
Album : 1984 (MCMLXXXIV)
Released : January 9, 1984
M.M. Album Rating : 5/5 (One Of The Most Successful Hard Rock Albums In Music History !)
The final album by the original four members of Van Halen was also their most successful. With over 20 million records sold to date the album still has the perfect formula to appeal to the masses. When asked what makes this album stand out over the other five albums from the original band, Producer Ted Templeman said one word. “Synthesizer”. Yes, the use of the Synthesizer, and Keyboards would make the album much more accessible to pop fans, especially with a song that Eddie Van Halen had been pushing for the band to record since 1981 that David Lee Roth protested against. That song would eventually become known as “Jump” the first and only number one song the band ever had.
By the time Van Halen was ready to work on the album that became 1984 they were already one of the biggest bands in the world. They had just come off their headlining 90 minute set at the “US Festival” where they were paid one million dollars, the most money any artist had been paid for one show. What should’ve been a happy time for the band was overshadowed by conflict between lead singer David Lee Roth, and guitar player Eddie Van Halen. Up to this point both men had been fighting for the musical control of the band. Their past three albums showed the most evidence of this with Dave influencing Woman And Children First. Then Eddie taking the reins for the music darker Fair Warning, then Dave again getting his way with the cover song friendly Diver Down. Eddie also felt in the minority since Producer Ted Templeman usually sided with Dave’s vision, especially agreeing to not having keyboards dominate the music.
It was at this point that Eddie decided to build a recording studio in his backyard, now known as the famous “5150” the police code for an escaped mental patient. Tired of being overruled by both Dave and Ted, and their constant interference in the creation of his music Eddie would record the tracks himself in the new studio, then bring them the way he wanted them to Roth and Templeman. Although not happy with the keyboard heavy songs, especially “I’ll Wait ” (co-written by Doobie Brother Michael McDonald) which David Lee Roth fought tooth and nail to keep off the album, but Eddie won out in the end. To keep both Roth and Eddie happy Templeman decided to have half the songs please Eddie, and half to please Dave.
In the end the album was a monster hit, especially with the videos that David Lee Roth directed for the songs Jump, Panama, and Hot For Teacher with the killer opening double bass drum intro by Alex Van Halen (ironically no video was made for I’ll Wait.) What many don’t realize though is the album tracks like Drop Dead Legs, Girl Gone Bad, Top Jimmy, and a song from their original Gene Simmons demo House Of Pain, are equally as strong (I personally like them more) than the famous songs with the videos. Eddie would also take a piece of music created by Michael Anthony’s bass solo during the Diver Down tour to open the album as the title track.
You would think a record this successful would bring the band together, but instead it would tear the band apart. After the successful world tour Roth would make a solo Ep called “Crazy From The Heat” which became so successful he decided to leave the band to do his own thing. After that Dave would make the best record Van Halen never made called “Eat Em’ And Smile, while Van Halen would recruit Sammy Hagar to record another keyboard heavy album “5150” (named after Eddie’s studio.) It’s a real shame the original band couldn’t stay together a few more years, because as 1984 proves their was so much more incredible music to come. David Lee Roth may be back with Eddie and Alex now, but it’s not the same. His voice is shot, and he’s a shell of his former self, plus no Michael Anthony who was much more important to the band than he’s given credit for. A huge part of music history we will never have again.
All music written by Edward Van Halen and lyrics by David Lee Roth. All songs credited to Van Halen.
“1984” (Instrumental) – 1:07
“Jump” – 4:04
“Panama” – 3:32
“Top Jimmy” – 2:59
“Drop Dead Legs” – 4:14
“Hot for Teacher” – 4:42
“I’ll Wait” – 4:41
“Girl Gone Bad” – 4:35
“House of Pain” – 3:19