Posted in Album Reviews

Van Halen – Van Halen II (1979)

The appropriately titled Van Halen II was the band’s second album released just over a year after their classic debut.  Several of the songs had been kicking around from their demo days including the hard rocking “Somebody Get Me a Doctor”. David Lee Roth sounds a bit like Ozzy when he sings, “I watch my television/almost lost my mind” on “Light Up the Sky” and guitartist Eddie Van Halen continues to impress on the acoustic instrumental “Spanish Fly”.

Moody opener is a cover of “You’re No Good” that sounds like a dark alley suddenly coming alive with a guitar warm up then the drums/bass appear. Where the album really shines is on tracks that allow Diamond Dave a little bit more room to breathe.  “Dance the Night Away” immediately sounds brighter than other tracks and the pre-chorus of “ooh baby baby” sets up the infectious chorus, Michael Anthony’s bass line and background singing is a driving force behind the scenes.

With much riffing on “D.O.A”, yet it still allows Roth to take the song to the next level.  His vocal wordplay on “Beautiful Girls” with its “She was a seaside sittin’/just a smokin’ and a drinkin’ on ringside” is really impressive. Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony hold down a solid rhythm section throughout with the latter’s background vocals being a highlight on several tracks. It’s when the four are able to really let their personalities shine that Van Halen II really kicks up the heat.

7.5/10

Posted in Album Reviews

Tears For Fears – The Tipping Point (2022)

Reading websites that focus on reissues, Tears For Fears’ The Seeds of Love was something of a holy grail of albums waiting for the deluxe treatment.  It finally came out in 2020 and with a Greatest Hits album from 2017, the duo were back in the public eye. While their 2004 reunification barely caused a ripple, The Tipping Point seems to have struck a chord with old and new fans alike.

Appearing on several TV shows and in videos, Smith looks healthy and tanned, Orzabal wise with a longer hair and a greying beard.  The sound has a mature feel with light electronics sprinkled throughout. The duo ease the listener into the album with the acoustic guitar of “No Small Thing”. First single and title track, adds those electronics to the mix with a cascading guitar on a song about Orzabal’s wife who had recently passed away.  “So who’s that ghost knockin’ at my door?/you know that I can’t love you more”.  His relationship with his wife is touched on again later on “Please Be Happy” where Orzabal sings the heartbreaking line, “I still believe this love can grow”.

For “Long, Long, Long Time”, Smith takes over the vocals with help from Carina Round on the chorus that provides a nice change of sound.  The feminist theme of “Break the Man” is obscured for the casual listener by a poptastic chorus. “Master Plan” takes on a more expansive sound on the late album highlight. With plenty of great tracks to choose from, Orzabal and Smith have made a classy album nearly 40 years on from their debut.

8/10