Ah, Diver Down. Nestled between the controversy are 4 fantastic heavy-rock songs from the band that took the torch from Zep. The only songs I have a problem with on the album are the too-silly “Happy Trails” and the mediocre “Pretty Woman”. “Big Bad Bill” is a funny and swinging change of pace and “The Full Bug” is a raunchy, underrated gem. And yes, the band themselves aren’t crazy about this album. And it is short. But, oh man, those 4 songs! Songs from a band that is mostly overshadowed by their guitarist …..a band that has the funk born of great timing and musicianship and love forwhat they do….1) Where have all the Good Times Gone? – Eddie makes the indestructible Kinks riff his own.You just want it to go on forever. Alex displays Bonzo-style taste and restraint. Dave was never more charismatic. They made it look easy.2) Hang Em’ High – Mike, Alex & Eddie. Three musicians locked airtight from constant touring. A mindboggling tour-de-force. 3) Secrets – Gentle….swinging. A nice display of songwriting chops. There are so many good things going on in here that can only be appreciated through headphones. Great lyrics and another goodexample of everybody having fun together. 4) Little Guitars – A Monster. A brilliant acoustic intro….then silence…then that great stomping electric”second” intro. It’s a classic right down the line from Dave’s comical trouble-across-the-border lyric (that would sound… without that self-deprecating edge he has that makes so many of the songs work) to the tightness of Eddie, Mike & Alex, to Eddie’s wierd fingerpicking riff to those brown, majestic powerchords towards the end. I’d take this one to a desert island with me any day.
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
I have to say that this album is a masterpiece. Perhaps more eclectic than other DLR era Vh albums, but just mentioning the singer, he really rocks on this one.
‘Where have all the good times gone’ is awesome classic rock, cover or no cover. ‘Hang ‘em high’ is a great punk-ish sought of song and Cathedral is a fantastic instrumental intro for an underrated song called ‘Secrets’. And ‘intruders’ is a haunting intro to ‘Pretty Woman’.
‘Dancing in the street’ is really energetic and features some guitar pyrotechincs that reach an even greater level on ‘Little guitars’, one of the greatest songs ever! IMO. ‘Big bad Bill is sweet William now’ has a Louis Armstrong kind of sound and has humourous lyrics. Talent runs in the family? Jan Van Halen plays great clarinet work on that one. The ‘Full Bug’ rocks and ‘Happy Trails’ ends the album with a smile.
I remember when this album (not CD – vinyl album!) first came out. I was living in a 3rd floor walk-up in Boston, so broke that it took four of us to pay the rent with our part-time jobs – going to school full-time – and hanging out – lying on the floor mostly – listening to music. When Diver Down came out, we spent grocery money to get it! Who could resist Eddie’s infectious smile, as his fingers raced over the frets? Who could ignore Diamond Dave’s stratospheric leaps? So, we forked over the bucks – and we were in heaven! “Dance the Night Away” – “Pretty Woman” – “Where have all the Good Times Gone?” – to this day – some of my favorite songs of all time. And when they ended with a chorus of “Happy Trails” – we died… there, on the spot, we fell over with glee. An album of pure fun and masterful guitar – what more could you ever want?
Did Van Halen follow-up their 1981 masterpiece “Fair Warning” with another classic in the same vein? No. Although “Fair Warning” remains Van Halen’s masterpiece and is a fan favorite, upon its release, it was a commercial disappointment, stalling at platinum status (it has sold over two million copies to date).
Van Halen made a far more radio-friendly, commercial album with 1982s “Diver Down.” Of the twelve tracks, three are instrumentals, and five are cover songs. That leaves only four Van Halen originals. The reason? As producer Ted Templeman stated, once you record a song that’s a hit, you’re already halfway there. A lot of fans have complained with the format of this CD. And while it would have been nice to have a full-length album of VH originals as a follow-up to “Fair Warning,” “Diver Down” is still a classic Van Halen recording. The original recordings, “Hang `em High,” “Secrets,” “Little Guitars” and “The Full Bug,” are four of Van Halen’s all-time best songs. All of the covers on this disc are better than the originals, and the instrumentals are cool and help with the flow of the album. Eddie’s playing, which goes with out saying, is spectacular. Dave shines of course, and Alex Van Halen (drums) and Michael Anthony (bass) provide a stellar rhythm section.
“Diver Down opens with the Kinks “Where Have All the Good Times Gone,” a mid-tempo, upbeat rocker. “Hang `Em High,” an ode to Clint Eastwood, is fast and furious. It features one of Eddie’s all-time best solos. “Cathedral” is a haunting, offbeat guitar instrumental, which adds a bit of spice to the album. The highly underrated “Secrets” is, without doubt, one of Van Halen’s greatest songs. It simply shows the Van Halen/Roth chemistry at its absolute best. This low-key, tuneful song is wonderfully written. David Lee Roth’s finest lyrics can be found right here:
“She ain’t waiting ’til she gets older
Her feet are makin’ tracks in the winter snows
She got a rainbow that touches her shoulder
She be headed where the thunder rolls”
The pace picks up for the fast-paced instrumental jam “Intruder,” which leads perfectly into the Roy Orbison classic “Pretty Woman,” one of Van Halen’s most popular songs. Van Halen made a dance-pop smash with the mowtown classic “Dancing in the Streets.” The melodic instrumental “Little Guitars (intro)” leads perfectly into the gorgeous “Little Guitars,” one of Van Halen’s greatest love songs. Much like “Secrets,” with “Little Guitars,” Van Halen manages to create a love song that is both sincere and has power. Unlike the schlock that Van Halen would be releasing a few years later with Sammy Hagar. “Big Bad Bill (is Sweet William Now)” is pure Dave kitsch and adds a great sense of humor to the CD. “The Full Bug” is a great, underrated, fast-paced, classic VH rocker. “Happy Trails” is a light-hearted vocal instrumental and is a great way to close the CD. While some fans might complain at its inclusion, along with “Big Bad Bill (is Sweet William Now), and call it filler, I actually am quite fond of them both. “Diver Down” wouldn’t be the same without them.
Some fans might consider “Diver Down” to be one of the bands weaker albums, especially when compared to their first four albums. I would have to disagree with this assessment. Van Halen didn’t set out to make a kick-ass hard rock album with “Diver Down.” They set out to make a more commercial, light-hearted album, and they succeeded brilliantly. It may not rock as hard as “Van Halen” or “Fair Warning,” but “Diver Down” is a gem in it’s own right. If you are a fan of classic rock, the first six Van Halen albums are essential to own for any great collection. “Diver Down” is no exception.
The title of the review says it all. Diver Down is the great overlooked Van Halen album. In my opinion it’s one of their best albums but for some reason it’s just overlooked by everyone. It was a great followup to an even greater album, Fair Warning. Diver Down for the most part is half cover songs and half originals with some instrumentals thrown in. I’ll review the cover songs first. The first cover on the album is of the Kinks’ classic Where Have All the Good Times Gone?, the Mighty Van Halen’s version blows the original away. The only hit from this album was the cover of Roy Orbison’s (OH)Pretty Woman, they did a great version of this song also. They also cover the classic song Dancing in the Streets, a lot of people say this is their worst song but I thin they did an excellent job on the song, David Lee Roth sounds great. The last two covers on the album are strange ones indeed, the first one is called Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)it is a very slow ragtime sounding song, it features Jan Van Halen (Eddie and Aelx’s father) on clarinet, then the song that closes the album is Happy Trails, the VH boys do a great song on this song also, the background vocals are great and Dave’s voice fits the song. So that’s the story on the cover songs, now the first original is called Hang em High. This song is typical early Van Halen and it’s amazing. Great guitar riff and eccentric drumming by Alex. Cathedral is a short Eddie instrumental, then it goes into Secrets. It is a good song, very underrated. Little Guitars is without a doubt the best song on the album, and no doubt one of Van Halen’s best. The song is very catchy and poppy. The last original on the album is The Full Bug, this is also one of the best Van Halen songs ever. There is a short acoustic intro before kicking into a great rocker. Everything about this album is great, any fan of great music should pick this up, don’t listen to what everybody says, and don’t overlook this masterpiece