“Eat `em and smile” is the first solo effort (excluding the previous EP of covers) from Van Halen singer David Lee Roth. This album shows Roth in excellent form, delivering songs that probably made the other Van Halen guys green of envy. Roth is just blasting away in traditional Van Halen approach (best covered on the albums “Van Halen I & II”) and this album is packed with memorable and immortal tunes. If you like early Van Halen you should run right away to the nearest record store and get this album because you won’t likely hear anything this great these days. The slower “Ladies night in Buffalo”, the furious “Shyboy”, the great cover of “Tobacco road”, and the melodic “Yankee rose” & “Goin’ crazy” are just a few examples of great music from great musicians (David Lee Roth, Steve Vai, Billy Sheehan, Gregg Bissonette). Ever since this release, I have waited in vein for an equally good album from Diamond Dave.
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
THE BAND: David Lee Roth (vocals), Steve Vai (guitars), Billy Sheehan (bass), Gregg Bissonette (drums & percussion).
THE DISC: (1986) 10 songs clocking in at just over 31 minutes. Included with the disc is a 6-page booklet containing song titles, credits, players for each song (including guest musicians), and thank you’s. Recorded between The Power Station (NY) and Fantasy Studios (CA). Label – Warner Bros.
COMMENTS: David Lee Roth has put out several solo albums since leaving Van Halen, but this “Eat ‘Em And Smile” is still his best. His other albums, collectively, are hit and miss (and the hits are scattered). He put out such fantastic stuff with Van Halen, that most of his solo career pales in comparison. “Eat’em And Smile” is short, like most previous VH albums, but it still packs a punch. The sound production is flawless. Diamond Dave had gathered an all-star band with talented Vai, Sheehan and veteran session drummer Gregg Bissonette (having played for Joe Satriani, ELO, Don Henley, Duran Duran, Santana and others). Roth had his best tunes featured on the radio – “Tobacco Road” (though short at 2:27 minutes), “Yankee Rose” and “Goin’ Crazy”. These were all tunes that were radio friendly, yet featured searing riffs and smart and sometimes speedy percussion. Other great songs include the pounding “Shyboy” and “Elephant Gun” (Vai shreds on both), as well as the slowed down “Ladie’s Night in Buffalo”. There are 3 cover tunes here – “I’m Easy”, “Tobacco Road”, and “That’s Life” – the weakest being DLR’s rendition of Frank Sinatra’s trademark “That’s Life”. Five songs from “Eat ‘Em And Smile” made it to DLR’s compilation “The Best” released in 1997. If you’re a fan of DLR and Van Halen, then this album is absolutely essential.
When David Lee Roth parted ways with Van Halen, there was a ton of bad blood between him and the brothers Van Halen. We all saw it on MTV in daily diatribes and tauntings and all the hooflaw. Feelings were hurt, egos bruised, and the press was having a field day stoking the fires. So Diamond Dave, being exceptionally pissed off, goes out and finds his replacements for the brothers Van Halen. Welll… many would say that it is almost impossible to find a guitarist to fill Eddie Van Halen’s shoes. Steve Vai fits the bill and then some. Technically better than the Edward the Great, Vai can play anything. Will he ever eclipse EVH’s legacy as the absolute God of Rock Guitar? Never. Sorry Steve, but never, ever, not in a million years. Being technically superior counts for very little in the eyes of the masses. Still, if there was ever a burner to give EVH the finger it was Stevie Vai. And Billy Sheehan? Could Michael Anthony aspire to lick Sheehan’s boots? Hell no, Billy is God on bass. So that left Alex Van Halen, a typical but popular drummer in the heavy rock genre. How about a schlep from The Maynard Feguson Big Band by the name of Gregg Bissonette? He makes Alex look like a fool. The band is complete. All the hired guns are in place. Diamond Dave can turn his back on the brothers Van Halen and shake his spandexed ass. Eat ‘Em And Smile is born…. along with the Picasso Bros.
Right out of the gate we have “Yankee Rose,” a straight-ahead rocker with David Lee Roth and Steve Vai (via his axe) having a conversation about The Statue of Liberty. The video was an MTV staple forver and it intoduced us to The Picasso Bros. (DLR & Pete Angeles). If there was ever a way to tell your former bandmates to “F*ck Off!” David Lee Roth found it in a big way. “Shyboy” is a song with strange beginings. Although DLR’s name appears on the credits as one of the co-authors, “Shyboy” is a song straight out of Talas’ set list. Talas? That would be Billy Sheehan’s former Buffalo, NY band that had quite an east coast following and a few records released on independant labels. A great tune even before it became DLR’s, “Shyboy” shows off the prowess of both Vai and Sheehan. “I’m Easy” is a cover tune of the same ilk as “Just A Gigolo” & Dave’s earlier solo effort the Crazy From The Heat EP. He takes oldtime rock and roll and makes it accessable to a whole new generation of listeners. Awesome! “Ladies Nite In Buffalo” another little nod in Sheehan’s direction, DLR and the boyz take it down a notch and deliver a solid slow rocker. “Goin’ Crazy!” another MTV staple as the DLR vs. VH war continued all through the summer of 1986. Straight ahead party boy DLR kinda fun song. Classic. “Tobacco Road” another cover tune. This one starts with the killer Steve Vai lick and moves into a rollicking good time. DLR knows how to pick cover tunes. He’s a genius. This works on every level. “Elephant Gun” another straight-forward rocker that shows off Vai and Sheehan to the world. Catchy. Every hook in the book. This is why he got the nickname Diamond Dave. “Big Trouble” another slow rocker and one of my personal favorites. Great live. “Bump And Grind” Silly and sexy. Dave sure knew how to slap a tune together that chicks could strip to. “That’s Life” Sinatra. Who else had more of an ego than DLR. An oldie but a goodie.
All in all, David Lee Roth walked away from Van Halen and when the angry words started flying, he came back singing. A million times more honest than the pop-tripe the brothers VH started to slop out with their new singer Sammy Hagar. The best band money could buy. Would it last forever? No way in hell, but it was worth the price of admission. I remember seeing the Eat ‘Em And Smile tour when it came to San Diego back in ‘86. DLR & Co. were at the top of their game and who were Van Halen anyway?
With Eat ‘em and Smile, David Lee Roth’s first full-length solo album, Van Halen’s former front man proved he didn’t need Eddie and the guys behind him to rock the house. Of course, his new band members deserve a lot of credit for making this album sound as good as it does: guitarist extraordinaire Steve Vai, talented bassist Billy Sheehan, and drummer Gregg Bissonette. There are more than a few echoes of vintage Van Halen in these ten tracks, but in the end this is really and truly David Lee Roth at his best. While the comic and campy aspects of the persona he built around his earlier EP release Crazy From the Heat also showed up here to party, David Lee Roth and his band basically came to the studio to rock hard and heavy and have fun doing it.Yankee Rose, featuring some killer riffs from guitarist Steve Vai, gets the album off to a driving, heart-pumping start. This track, which I consider the best of Roth’s career, is followed by Shyboy, another metal classic that some fans may be unfamiliar with. Roth takes the show down a notch or two with the catchy but pop-oriented track I’m Easy. Then there is Ladies’ Night in Buffalo?, a track which some critics have pronounced Roth’s most artistic song; I find it rather boring, myself. Roth perhaps feels the same, for he quickly shifts back into overdrive and pumps out three hard-driving rockers in Goin’ Crazy, Tobacco Road, and Elephant Gun. After reaching this mid-album crescendo, though, Roth coasts some of the way to the finish line. Big Trouble is relatively unimpressive except for its noteworthy bridge, and Bump and Grind is rather forgettable altogether. Roth really closes the album out in style, though, belting out his cover of That’s Life. The song may be a little over the top and it is certainly flamboyant, but the same can be said of David Lee Roth, and that is why That’s Life is the perfect way to close out Roth’s first major solo project. The album is too short, coming in at barely thirty one minutes in length, but there is a lot of good rock and roll crammed into these ten tracks.
In 1985, when Dave was still in Van Halen, he had two big solo hits “California Girls” and “Just a gigolo.” When Dave left VH, he couldn’t be a viable solo artist just covering lounge songs and Beach Boy hits, he needed to put together a rock band, one that was as good, if not better, than his old band. This is just what Dave did. He got Steve Vai for guitar, Billy Sheehan for bass, and Gregg Bissonette for drums. Not only was his first solo band, the “Eat ‘Em and Smile” band technically as good as Van Halen, but it wrote songs that were up-to-par with VH classics. In my humble opinion, the Eat ‘Em and Smile album was as good as the first six Van Halen albums. I see this album as being the true follow-up to Van Halen’s 1984. In a sense, I see this as being the seventh Van Halen album. I also think that this album is far superior to Van Halen’s first album with Sammy Hagar, 5150. Like the first six Van Halen albums, this album is only about a half hour, and rocks top to bottom. It is filled with heavy, catchy rifts, color, melody, and humor. There are a lot of classic rockers on this album, such as “Yankee Rose,” “Going Crazy!” and “Shy Boy.” There are a few lounge numbers–”I’m Easy,” and “That’s Life.” There are a few slower numbers such as “Ladies Night in Buffalo?” and “Big Trouble.” Overall, this album is a straight-a-head rocker, with no ballads or synth-pop. If you are a fan of the David Lee Roth era of Van Halen, than this CD is a must have!