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Crazy from the Heat

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★★★★☆
(21 Reviews)

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  • Looking at the cover of David Lee Roth waist deep in the waters off the Seychelles, one might come up with an image of something more relaxing compared to the heavy metal theatrics of Van Halen. And it shows that rather than dipping his toe in the water to test for a viable solo career, Roth confidently knew what he was doing, even though he returned to the same Van Halen-type rock in Eat’em And Smile.Dan Hartman’s bluesy “Easy Street” is definitely a change from “Panama” or “Jamie’s Cryin’”, with Edgar Winter’s sax helping out. In fact Roth thanks the Frankenstein man in the liner notes for inspiration.The jump swing and jiving swagger of 1940’s-50’s artists like Louis Jordan or Louis Prima fits Diamond Dave’s persona well on the medley “Just A Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody.” And Roth’s rapid-fire scat vocals following Edgar Winter’s sax before he launches into the final reprise of the number adds to the retro-40’s sound. Figures, as he grew up listening to Frank Sinatra and Louis Prima, the latter whom I know covered this, but whether he was the original artist, I know not. Despite the difference in instrumentation, jazz instruments versus rock instruments, the engaging swinging sound is well-preserved.The standout cut here is the Beach Boys classic “California Girls,” in which he enlists the aid of Carl Wilson and Christopher Cross for backing vocals. This retread is boosted by a harder-edged guitar compared to the original as well as Edgar Winter’s synthesizers, but loses none of that laid back beach music flavour due to Mr. Wilson’s contribution. Both this video and the one for “Just A Gigolo” comprise early MTV memories for me.Finally, a cover of the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Coconut Grove,” which is a laid back affair compared to the previous three numbers.So, we have a 70’s instrumentalist who worked with the Winter Brothers, a prime example of swaggering jump swing, and two songs from the 60’s, the laid back California sound and a group known for its good-natured “electric good time music.” It shows the various influences and appreciations that the Van Halen frontman had for music.Producer Ted Templeman, who produced all the Van Halen albums up through 1984, clearly followed Diamond Dave on this album and his first full-length solo album, Eat’em And Smile. Crazy From The Heat isn’t a bad EP and launching ground for solo stardom. Unfortunately, it led to a schism in Van Halen fans, Roth loyalists who derogatorily referred to the reformed Van Halen as Van Hagar, and those who sided with the Van Halen brothers, snidely thinking “David Lee Who?” Chances are though, there were those who accepted the split and both, such as your humble reviewer here.

    Posted on December 4, 2009