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Eat 'Em and Smile

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★★★★½
(61 Reviews)

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  • 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?

    Dig it!

    Posted on March 3, 2010