Artist: Van Halen (with David Lee Roth)
Album: “A Different Kind of Truth” (2012)
By Matt Mittan (“Take a Stand! Show”)
Before you read any further, you need to know that I’ve been a life long fan of Van Halen. So much so that I even bought Van Halen III… the desperate attempt at capturing lightening in a bottle for the third time after the whole Dave vs Sammy chaos around the time of the greatest hits compilation where the band toured with both front men. I’ve seen Van Halen (and Van Hagar) more times live than just about any band I can think of. I WANT to love this album. That said; I have battle fatigue. The ongoing ego trips and bickering of the Van Halen brothers Eddie and Alex against, well… everyone, have worn me down over the years. If these biases shine through in my track by track review, I wanted you to know why. I love hating this band and I hate loving this band.
1: “Tattoo” – Horrible… that’s the only word that can be used to describe the opening track to the first full length studio album featuring ‘Diamond’ David Lee Roth as Van Halen’s front man since the colossal hit album “1984”. Its as if they are purposefully trying to lull you into a sense of doom about the effort. It had to be that. That’s about the only reason that could explain such a ridiculously non-engaging track to open such a highly anticpated album.
2: “She’s the Woman” – Wait a second, what’s this? There’s almost a glimmer of Van Halen from days gone by as the band starts to rev up a bit, dropping into a steady groove after a wheeling intro. However, after a couple trademark “whoo hoo” flares from Roth, the song starts to slumber its way into middle school reading level lyrics. You will quickly realize how much this band has aged. About 2 minutes into the song Eddie kicks into a solo that seems like a tease of what this band might still be capable of. Another realization is the absence of long time bassist Michael Anthony’s backing vocals. Without his high pitch ear bending voice, the harmonies seem flat.
3: “You and Your Blues” – This song would be awesome… if Sammy were singing it. Reminiscent of the post Diamond days, this song has all the components of what would have been another hit in the multi year dominance of ‘Van Hagar’. However, like the aforementioned bassist, Sammy is sunning in Cabo, Mexico with his bottle of Tequila. A shame too, this song would have been great with that line up.
4: “China Town” – Somebody get Alex some nitro. His heart may not be able to take this pace night after night on tour. OK, that’s not really fair. But this song approaches some of the speed you heard back on “Woman and Children First”. By the end of this song, something occurred to me; “No way Michael Anthony could play Bass like this.” I found myself turning my speakers up on this track.
5: “Blood and Fire” – Another Sammy song wannabe. You know what made Sammy work so well with this band? He was so likable. (He still is.) DLR on the other hand, for good or bad, has always been an ass with an ego the size of the Aurora Borealis. It’s what made him such a legendary front man 30 years ago… but it doesn’t seem as ‘cool’ on a post middle-aged man. So when he tries to wax the reflective, as this song attempts, it seems disingenuous. The song also seems eerily familiar. I’m sure I’ve heard parts of it on “Diver Down”.
6. “Bullethead” – What I would’ve given to hear the Van Halen of 80-81 play this song live! As a long time Van Halen fan, this song was surprisingly fun as a straight forward, unapologetic, kick in your teeth. It was songs like this that turned me onto this band when I was a pre-pubescent, angst-filled, soon to be metal head of the 80’s. The difference, back then… this song would have blazed on for several minutes… in 2012… it came to a crash only 150 seconds into it. But I’ll take it. <grin>
7. “As Is” – Man I miss Michael Anthony. Great “Hot For Teacher’ guitar vibe on this track, but as much as the boys try to duplicate the classic VH vocal arrangements on the chorus, it just isn’t right without Michael Anthony’s high pitched cry that was as much the bands signature sound as Eddies riffs. Again the bass stands out as being a few cuts above previous VH recordings though. Eddies son Wolfgang certainly inherited the family musical gene. When this latest line up crumbles into a heap of charred ruins, as all VH line ups do eventually. I hope Wolfgang pursues other options. The kid can play!
8. “Honeybabysweetiedoll” – This song is almost worth the price of admission itself. Sounds like the track that should have been between “Girl Gone Bad” and “House of Pain”, my two favorite tracks on the album ‘1984’. Listening to this track had me wondering why the band wasted studio time on some of the obvious misses on this album.
9. “The Trouble With Never” – Wolfgang Van Halen owns this track. At about 1:30 into this track you think you’re about to hear a classic Eddie solo unfold, instead you’re treated with a stand out jam by his son, commanding the rhythm section with a monstrous bass onslaught. Unfortunately, most fair weather fans won’t make it far enough into the song to hear it… vocally the song stumbles along like a confused dog.
10. “Outta Space” – Should have been left on the editing room floor. The solo is as good as any Eddie did in the past 20 years though… but if you have Audacity or Audition you may want to loop the guitar riffs and that’s about it… The good parts of this song seem over as soon as they start. Too bad too… DLR tries too hard on this song and it ruined it for me.
11. “Stay Frosty” – Why not just do “Ice Cream Man” again? The boys try to show a softer, bluesy side on this at-first acoustic song, that builds into a blues rock swinger. We’ve heard it before. Like when someone says a joke twice to the same crowd because everyone laughed the first time; same goes for this song… should have known when to walk away. Come to think of it, when has Diamond Dave ever known when to stop?
12. “Big River” – Remember the first time you listened to the album “Diver Down” all the way through, and you thought “Did they just run out of songs to put on the album?” This song made me feel the same way. The instrumental jam about half way through is classic VH type stuff – I would have loved if that were 3 minutes of the nearly 4 minute song. A saving grace seems to be Wolfgang’s nod to his Uncle Anthony with the straight thumb tap bass style on this track. Or maybe he was trying to insult him. Who knows… he IS a Van Halen after all.
13. “Beats Workin” – Hey… Dave found his voice… where was that hiding? This rolling rock song makes up for vocally what it lacks musically. I suppose it’s a bit of poetic irony. By the last track, Diamond Dave finally came out of his ego long enough to actually ‘sing’ a song… pretty effectively, in a DLR kind of way. He even snuck in some screams and snarky sound bites without sounding like some old creeper.
All in all, I think long time Van Halen fans will find this walk down memory lane enjoyable. But, if you’re like me, you won’t be able to escape the side circus that has become synonymous with this band. I couldn’t stop thinking about how much the Van Halen brothers wronged Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony. (Oh yeah, and Gary Cherone too.) While I may have been a little hard on the band, I was not nearly as ruthless toward this album as the brothers have been toward their band mates and fans for the past 15 years.
I do hold out hope that they can keep a line up together long enough to hit the studio after their 2012 tour, because this record gave glimpses to a cool though… they may still have some good rock left in them yet. I’m going to go pull up some ‘Chicken Foot’ now and see if I can’t mash them up in my mind a bit.
My Rating: 3.75 out of 5 Stars
Sometimes it takes an epic moment to turn the tide of events in history. Sometimes it’s the flutter of a feather that can set events into motion that end up causing a complete paradigm shift in culture. The story I’m about to tell is neither. This is simply an issue that citizens have a chance to impact the decision on and I wanted to make sure you knew about it.
So that you know, I live an isolated area of Buncombe County in western North Carolina. I live at the base of a ridgeline that eventually soars to nearly 6,000 feet above sea level. I’m surrounded by a protected reservoir to one side, a national forest to another and the Blue Ridge Parkway can be seen winding around the peak above our land. Wildlife is almost as normal to see around our home as are human beings. It’s not uncommon to see bears walk across my yard at least 4-5 times a week. Mother Bears have dropped off their cubs on our front porch from time to time to play on our rockers. Bobcats, wild turkey, fox, raccoons, rabbits, birds of prey, deer and yes even coyote roam our valley freely. There’s even rumor of mountain lions, but we’ll save that debate for another day.
It’s the coyotes that I want to talk about though. You see, these predators are not native to the mountains of western NC and they cause a lot of problems. Small livestock, poultry and even smaller pets fall victim to these hunters. It’s for this reason that many in rural communities have adopted a shoot to kill policy toward these gray ghosts of the forest.
The challenge of how to deal with Coyotes isn’t exclusive to the Southern Appalachian Mountains, it’s all across the south east. In urban areas like Charlotte, NC, Coyotes have even begun attacking dogs inside the city limits. The growing popularity of Public Greenways has been credited with the spread of the animals into urban areas.
Coyote hunting is legal in North Carolina, without bag limits, during the day (except Sundays). But, as anyone who lives in the same habitat as these stealthy phantoms can tell you, they almost never come out during the day. They are almost exclusively night prowlers.
Enter North Carolina State Government…
Realizing that people have begun taking matters into their own hands, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has decided that it’s time to consider making Coyote night hunting legal in the Tar Heel state. After all, it wouldn’t be practical to go around arresting and/or fining citizens every time they kill a predator that was caught in the act killing livestock, poultry or even pets. That wouldn’t be very good PR would it? But like most things with government, there are a few strings attached.
Hunting of Coyotes would be allowed at night, on private lands, but only with a bow and arrow. Unless it’s on approved state hunting grounds, then you could hunt for Coyote at night with a gun, except on Sunday, when you would have to use a bow and arrow. Oh yeah, and for all the above, you would have the ability to use artificial calls and lights at night. You cannot, however, hunt from a vehicle.
The State will be holding a series of public hearings on the coyote hunting proposal over the next few weeks. For more information on the proposal and how to share your thoughts on the matter, visit http://www.ncwildlife.org/ProposedRegulations.aspx
Protect the Internet!!!!! Protect
Today “Take a Stand!” joins with other internet venues in a virtual strike to protest two proposed laws in the United States, called SOPA and the PROTECT IP Act. On January 24th, the U.S. Senate will vote on the PROTECT IP Act to censor the Internet, despite opposition from the vast majority of Americans.
Join us to protect our rights to free speech, privacy, and prosperity.
What’s this about?
Congress is trying to pass legislation that threatens free speech and innovation on the Internet, under the banner of anti-piracy efforts.
What’s at risk?
The proposed infrastructure would damage the security of the Internet and allow the government extensive censorship abilities.
Your favorite websites, both inside and outside the US, could be blocked based on a single infringement claim, without any due process of law.
How is it done?
The US will be able to block a site’s web traffic, ad traffic and search traffic using the same website censorship methods used by China, Iran and Syria.
What about piracy?
Piracy is a problem but there are better ways to address it that don’t stifle innovation, knowledge and creativity — or give the US such unchecked power over the global Internet.
(USA Today) Each year, Jan. 1 falls on a different day of the week, and the entire following year shifts accordingly. Schools, sports teams, businesses and banks spend many hours and millions of dollars calculating on what day of the week certain dates will fall, to schedule holidays and set interest rates. It doesn’t need to be that complicated, say an astrophysicist and applied economist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. They have a proposal to make schedules simpler: a permanent calendar in which each 12-month period is exactly as the year before, on into perpetuity.
The extra days created by the Earth’s inconvenient 365.242-day orbit around the sun would be dealt with not by adding Feb. 29 for leap years, but by a leap week tacked onto the calendar at the end of December every five to six years. Hanke, who has helped seven countries introduce new currencies, estimates the change could save “roughly $130 billion” merely by decreasing the chance of interest-calculation errors resulting from incorrectly counting the number of days in a given month.
There have been multiple proposals to change the calendar since the world began to shift from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar starting in 1582. Most suffer from what Henry calls “the Sabbath problem.” Many religions require people to labor for six days but keep the seventh holy. Proposed calendars that break up the seven-day cycle destroy the count, meaning people could end up working on a day they should devote to spiritual matters.
Read the full story HERE>
(Matt Mittan, NewsTalk 50) Media bias comes in many forms. It can be omission of relevant information, censorship of opinions/facts or slanting presentation of information that leaves readers/viewers/listeners with a certain impression that is not based on truth. We found an example of all the above in one newspaper this week, The State Newspaper in Columbia, SC.
It starts with a story about the diminished impact of The Tea Party in SC. The headline read “Fractured S.C. Tea Party may be non-factor in GOP primary”and led off with the sentence “Just a year after helping sweep in a new Palmetto State governor and four new congressmen, the Tea Party may well be a non-factor in picking the winner of the Republican Party’s South Carolina presidential primary.”
Placed in the body of this story was a picture of two people sitting on lawn chairs, seemingly all by themselves in a sea of marble grandeur, watching a lone person (SC Gov Nikki Haley) speak to empty air as a statue of George Washington stands tall in the background. (Pictured below.) The caption of the photo said “Governor Nikki Haley speaks during a meeting of the Tea Party in Columbia Thursday night at the Statehouse. A.L. Geddings and Louise Geddings of Columbia were representative of the low turnout. Turnout was low at the event due to Donald Trump canceling his expected appearance.”
Now… looking at the story and reading the story, and reading the caption, a reader might think this had just happened. It hadn’t. The photo was from an event nearly a year earlier. A fact that unfortunately was left out of the story/photo caption. But that’s not the only offense. You see, the photo was specifically cropped to carve out the emptiest angle of the event. While the event was no million man march, there were certainly a lot more people present than the photo implied. (See the photo below of the actual crowd gathered.)
But maybe this is just the way this paper does things. To find out for sure we need to go back and look at other events at the same location around the same time frame and compare. And that’s what we did. Shortly before the Tea Party rally in the photos, the NAACP held a rally as well. It was to mark Dr Martin Luther King Day. We went and found a photo of that day. (Pictured below.) As the photo’s reveal, the crowds were a bit bigger at the NAACP rally.
However, when we pulled up The State Newspaper archives to see what kind of coverage of the NAACP rally there was. We couldn’t find anything other than a promotional piece about the days schedule. The headline was “King rally details; Columbia street closings“. What seemed to escape the newspaper was the fact that the NAACP had covered up the statue of George Washington for the rally, as is clearly visible in the photo.
Here’s a closer look at the photo used by the newspaper on a current story, cropped for editorial effect, from an event that happened nearly a year before the current story was published.
Now we ask you, what can you take away from this series of photo edits, story content and lack there of, about the bias of The State Newspaper in Columbia, SC? Be sure to take a closer, critical look, at what you are being fed by your local and regional media sources.
(YouSleepWhenYouDie.com) One thing is certain. At some point, you are going to get sucker-punched, and it is going to hurt. It doesn’t matter whether or not the hit you took was “fair” – no one promised that it would be – but whether you get up off the floor. Even if you get knocked down 10 times, make damn sure you get up 11 times. Take action!
Read the entire commentary HERE.
(Huffington Post) Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday reiterated the Justice Department’s support for the Ogden memo, which in 2009 declared that the sale and use of medical marijuana in states where it’s legal are a low priority for federal prosecutors. “What we said in the memo we still intend, which is that given the limited resources that we have, and if there are states that have medical marijuana provisions … if in fact people are not using the policy decision that we have made to use marijuana in a way that’s not consistent with the state statute, we will not use our limited resources in that way,” Holder said.
The comments came in response to a question from Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) during a hearing on the Justice Department’s flawed and discredited gun-sting program. Polis also asked about the recent federal crackdown on medical marijuana shops in California, where U.S. attorneys have closed hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries in just two months’ time.
Read the entire article HERE.
(Montgomery Advertiser) In many ways, the Civil Air Patrol’s mission has come full circle, seven decades after its founding.
Col. Al Bedgood, Southeast Region commander of CAP, said Thursday that the future of CAP, the nonprofit, civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is bright, because now the service is assisting with homeland security and supporting the Air Force and other federal agencies.
“That was our original charter,” Bedgood said, noting that CAP’s original duties included doing coastal patrols, courier flights, forest fire patrols and towing target aircraft.
CAP celebrated its 70th anniversary Thursday with a ceremony at its national headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base.
Read the full story HERE.
(Carolina Journal) N.C. Rep. Dale Folwell, R-Forsyth, announced Thursday that he won’t seek a fifth term in office next year, freeing him potentially to seek higher office. A certified public accountant and investment advisor, Folwell has served in the General Assembly since 2005. After Republicans took control of the House in 2011, Folwell was elected speaker pro tem, the No. 2 position in that chamber, although it has little significant power.
“I borrowed this seat from the people of the 74th district seven years ago, and I think it’s important that representatives represent, and part of that function is to let your employer know of your intentions as soon as possible,” Folwell said at a press conference. “That’s what I’m doing today.” Asked if he would seek higher office in 2012, the Winston-Salem Republican didn’t name any specifics but left the door open.
Read the story HERE.
(M2M Politics) General Assembly members took the unusual step Wednesday of voting to subpoena the head of North Carolina’s unemployment benefits office to appear before a committee — an action that chills relations with the agency as the state decides how to pay down $2.6 billion in debt to the federal government.
The Legislature’s Revenue Laws Study Committee voted unanimously to subpoena Assistant Commerce Secretary Lynn Holmes for its Jan 4 meeting. House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger had already signed a letter authorizing the committee to issue the subpoena if a majority of the panel voted for it.
The panel had said at least a week and a half ago that it wanted to hear from Holmes about her plans to reform what was previously called the Employment Security Commission, according to Committee co-chairman Sen. Bob Rucho. Holmes had a personal conflict and couldn’t attend, Commerce Department spokesman Tim Crowley said.
Read the story HERE.