Thursday, January 1, 2009



I am pleased to announce that there is no end in sight to my "year of Van Halen", particularly since I've run across another bunch of new downloads that will add to my immense pile of recordings begging to be listened to for the first time. Party on!

Out with the old, in with the new. The last year was a mixed bag of good and bad. My goal for 2009 will be to focus on the good, hoping that fate has fallen asleep and leaves me alone with regard to the bad. But some things have not changed, such as mankind's willingness to resort to war, death and destruction. It is disappointing that we start a new year with a brand new war that keeps the world in turmoil and provides only pain and suffering.

Tight hands on her throat
Puzzled why she won't submit
Until she is dead

Air raid sirens wail
Bodies buried in rubble
Their mothers wailing

People of the Book
Are not their brothers keeper
Cain and Able fight

Their roles are reversed
Goliath now drives a tank
David feels its treads

World's conflicts ignored
Wage our own deadly battles
Wallmart's checkout line

Darkness in Gaza
Modern concentration camp
Learned from old masters

Mankind's long ascent
Reach humanity's pinnacle
Atop the corpse pile

Challenge Israel
Political suicide?
We're already dead

Muslim versus Jew
Bloodbath fueled by old beliefs
Their storybook figures

The conflict bores God
Never ending soap opera
Changes the channel

Fires burn uncontrolled
Released with streams of blood red
A Happy New Year

New Year's resolution
Pray that everyone should be forced
To watch another die

Steel winged angels rise
Battle in the name of God
Kill like the Son of Sam

We had guests over for dinner New Year's Eve, but as soon as they departed at 10 PM, I assembled my gear and went outside to ring in the new year partying with Van Halen. Since I chose not to leave the property, I strapped on the headphones and cranked it up to maximum volume!

This nights concert was performed at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, NV on August 7, 2004, their second sold out (within a half hour of tickets becoming available!) show in that city. In my opinion, both the recording quality and performance of the band was a solid A! The sounds of the surrounding audience, never interfering with hearing the band, added to the feeling of standing before the stage. One could not help but rock to their music which went on strong for two hours.

Ian Christe's "The Van Halen Saga" says this about the 2004 tour:

"The band sounded rough and raw - they opened the gates to classic Van Halen spontaneity - not the tightly calibrated war machine that made them great, but actual chaos, which was almost as good. They had never really rocked with Hagar before, and the pop audience weened on "Right Now" sometimes interpreted raucousness as sloppiness. For one thing, this was the Sammy trained on seventies rock and now shaking coconut trees every night in clubs, not the highly processed poofster of the 1980's. Meanwhile, a whole new generation of fans who know Van Halen only through Internet downloads of their glory days were shocked that the brightly lit boys of 1978 were now old grizzled men."

I originally scorned the 2004 reunion tour shows as a hack performance that failed to reach the same heights as their shows in the 1990's when they peaked with Sammy. But as I listen to more of the 2004 shows I'm now gaining a new appreciation of their performance during that summer. Yes, the quality is variable depending on how wasted Eddie is when on stage. What makes these shows especially interesting for me is the spontaneity of Eddie's performance and the fact that at times he's improvising right there on the stage. "This was the first time ever that I wasn't nervous when I got onstage", states Eddie. "I was actually writing onstage, coming up with stuff while I was playing." I agree with Ian Christe's analysis of their performance: the band's willingness to loosen up and introduce a bit of chaos into their playing make these shows different from the well choreographed performances that came both before and after this tour. You don't really know what to expect!

A great show!

Held within our hands
That precious colored gem stone
Sparkles we call life

Grabs me by the ears
From the first note to the last
Their willing captive

Two thousand and four
Creativity unburdened
Eddie outperforms

Fifty one fifty time!
In search of a new outlet
Had the juice to pump

Stand upon the strings
Launched into the exosphere
It's Eddie time!

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