Sunday, 24 February 2013

Van Halen The Studio Albums 1978-1984' - new box set

Box of six albums: £23.81

Buy on Amazon

Look, I’m not going to tell you if the music is any good. You’ve had about thirty years to make up your mind about Van Halen. If you are a dedicated fan, you’ll already have these discs. If (like me) you know their singles but are less familiar with the albums, this set may be just the thing to help your rock your way through the bleak, cold days of February and March…

So what do you get? The set comprises Van Halen’s first six albums. Each disc is contained in a card sleeve showing the original album cover, and these are all packed inside a sturdy cardboard box. The downside of reproducing the album covers in CD format is that the credits on the sleeves are printed in such tiny characters that they are almost unreadable – this is especially so on the sleeve of Van Halen II where the tiny text is printed in an almost illegible light pink over dark blue!

The discs all contain the original track listings and there are no extras: no alternative or extended tracks and no additional goodies in the box such as booklets or photos. What you get is just the plain vanilla editions of the six albums, exactly as they were originally released.

The albums are: Van Halen, Van Halen II, Women and Children First, Fair Warning, Diver Down and 1984. These are all from what many fans regard the ‘classic’ period when the band was fronted by Dave Lee Roth. This set ends with Dave Lee Roth’s  final album before he was replaced by Sammy Hagar. There are lots of the band’s most popular songs here – including several songs from the first five albums that were chart hits in America and Canada – such as ‘(Oh) Pretty Woman’, ‘Dancing In The Street’ and ‘You Really Got Me’. However, it wasn’t until the release of the sixth album, ‘1984’, that Van Halen really made a big impression on the UK singles charts. That album contain several international hits ‘Panama’ and ‘Hot For Teacher’. But undoubtedly their biggest and, to this day, their most memorable hit was ‘Jump’. And if you need any reminder of that, here it is…

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

OMD, Enola Gay and a new album

"I was always uneasy about the fact that Enola Gay was a bright, perky pop song about a nuclear holocaust, but it was insanely catchy..." says Paul Humphreys, of the OMD hit, Enola Gay.

"The subject matter caused consternation within the band," according to Andy McCluskey, "Our manager even threatened to resign if we released it as a single. I researched the subject in the library; it's not the way most people write songs – but couched the lyric in metaphor and emotive language. I thought the line "Is mother proud of little boy today?" was so terribly clever, because it had several meanings. It referenced the fact that the plane was named after the pilot's mother, and the bomb was codenamed "little boy" – while also asking whether a mother would be proud of what her son was doing. I was ambivalent about this: would you fly a plane to kill all those people because you thought you were going to save even more?"

For more, see The Guardian newspaper. OMD's new album, English Electric, is due for release on the 8th of April and their tour starts later the same month.

Meanwhile, here's that song...