Van Halen, Cult faves
April 2, 2003 9:23 AM   Subscribe

The Best Band in the Land, a report from the alternate universe wherein musical priorities in the 80s were a little bit different. Complete with a reader's guide. One of many pieces of Old Man Grumpus rock criticism at Exiled on Main Street.
posted by COBRA! (13 comments total)
posted by signal at 9:31 AM on April 2, 2003

"America's kids just wanted the fast chords and throaty vocals of punk; not the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink eclecticism of Van Halen."
Closes eyes tightly, wishes as hard as possible, opens eyes, still same universe -- damn!
It is weird, however, particularly with the re-contextualized quotes from the critics and such, how close this essay brings metal and punk from going through the looking glass.
Knowing that this relative lunatic (and that's a glowing endorsement) is out there makes me want to read the upcoming "low-culture" publisher-sanctioned musings of Chuck Klosterman even less!
posted by chandy72 at 10:13 AM on April 2, 2003

...they were a band that couldn't catch a break... Is this guy talking about Van Halen? What kind of success does he consider a "break?" Van Halen was more successful than approximately 99.5 percent of the bands who released albums in the 1980s. Van Halen released more records, made more money, got more exposure than 10,000 groups as good or better than they were. Or did I miss something? This guy's first paragraph never really comes to a point -- he is talking about Van Halen, right?
posted by Faze at 12:10 PM on April 2, 2003

you missed something. read again. i did a double take for the first half, too. if necessary, there's an annotated version that calls the irony out in historical context.
posted by chandy72 at 12:16 PM on April 2, 2003

Faze is out of phase.
posted by Captain Ligntning at 12:35 PM on April 2, 2003

(After re-reading). Oh. I get it. (Creeps sheepishly out of thread.)
posted by Faze at 1:01 PM on April 2, 2003

Van Halen(DLR era) were a good band. Better than 90% of most punk bands, and 90% of hard rock bands for that matter. Anygroup that does an unironic cover of "Ice Cream Man," has something going for it.

Leave my man Chuck Klosterman alone, chandy72, he's taken the admirable position of defending the terminally uncool to the insufferably hip.

And yeah, I know Van Halen sold a shitload of records but by uncool, I mean that those who take music seriously have never given them their due. They injected humor into their sound(something sorely lacking in the hard rock of the time), Eddie reinvented hard-rock guitar (and I'll admit spawned a boatload of bad imitators), and they created some undeniable hard-rock classics("Panama," "Unchained" "Running With The Devil," "Mean Streets").

Plus for alla you more indie-than-thou snobs, The Minutemen were big VH fans. So there.
posted by jonmc at 1:24 PM on April 2, 2003

Most of the punkers I knew liked Van Halen anyway. VH doth rule...I still listen to 'em on hot sunny days.
I had a buddy in Jr. High that was into ANYTHING fast and loud. He made me a mix tape with Black Flag's "American Waste" followed by Motley Crue's "Live Wire" talk about a revelation! Wow...
posted by black8 at 1:35 PM on April 2, 2003

Yeah but, the Minutemen were also pretentious, tedious math-rockers.


I didn't mind VH that much, though I thought most of their stuff was pretty much disposable. Unless you're talking about the Van Hagar years, and then it was just plain unlistenable.

But clearly "better" is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder. I believe that Black Flag was one of the best rock bands of all time. Period. However, most would disagree with me. I think the problem there was that few people could truly grasp the genius that was (and is) Greg Ginn.
posted by psmealey at 1:38 PM on April 2, 2003

And the article is very clever, by the way. Thanks COBRA! Didn't mean to hijack the thread into Van Halen sucks, no they don't you do realm. Apologies. I'm going to quietly go back to drinking my afternoon coffee.
posted by psmealey at 1:53 PM on April 2, 2003

Funny essay.

I'm with black8, yea verily, VH doth rawk. Plus, David Lee Roth is rock's very own Oscar Wilde. Some choice quotes:

Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it.

I used to jog but the ice cubes kept falling out of my glass.

I used to have a drug problem, now I make enough money.

Music is like girlfriends to me; I'm continually astonished by the choices other people make.

When you get something like MTV, it's like regular television. You get it, and at first it's novel and brand new and then you watch every channel, every show. And then you become a little more selective and more selective, until ultimately... you wind up with a radio.

posted by Ty Webb at 3:09 PM on April 2, 2003

Van Halen: no brown M&Ms.
posted by Wet Spot at 6:53 PM on April 2, 2003

I'm not dogging Klosterman too much, jonmc. somebody had to take up the defense, it's true, and i read fargo rock city cover-to-cover twice in two days i liked it so much at the time. i'm just saying that i'm glad there's more voices out there doing the thinking, digesting and writing necessary to reassess uncool culture than i knew about prior to this thread. And I'm sure the "Low Culture Manifesto" title is meant as irony.
but at what point does defending the uncool to the insufferably hip become insufferably hip itself? (I know, I know, "not this round and round again").
FWIW, "Diver Down" was easily as life-changing for me as "Banned in DC" or Fishbone s/t for me.
posted by chandy72 at 7:04 AM on April 3, 2003

« Older L.A. Times Photographer Fired for Photoshopping...   |   Objecting to war Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments