Tag Archives: van halen

Aerosmith vs Van Halen-1st 6 LP Challenge

The other day on Twitter someone retweeted an article from Ultimate Classic Rock. This article was a list of the Top 10 American Rock Bands. The Top 3 were Aerosmith, Van Halen, and ZZ Top. Noted Van Halen enthusiast and author of an upcoming book on them, Greg Renoff had VH number one ahead of Aerosmith. His reasoning, not biased in the least I’m sure, was that the first 6 LP’s of VH outweighed the first 6 from Aerosmith. At first glance I agree but started thinking how many great Aersomth songs there are and how padded some of the Halen albums are. So in an excuse to listen to those albums again let’s put them head to head.

1st Album

aero1Aerosmith’s self titled debut is only 8 songs but it contains arguably their biggest song “Dream On”. Ironically the song was not a hit when the album first came out, it took a couple years later for the public to discover it. That’s why you will see some versions that has “featuring Dream On” on the cover. Another highlight is “Mama Kin” a song that is still in their live set. The rest of the album is good but you can tell that it is a first album but the potential is obvious.

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Van Halen’s debut is a mother trucker. You know every song on this album. From “Runnin With The Devil” to “You Really Got Me” to “Ain’t Talking About Love” they are all classic rock radio standards. Add in what “Eruption” and the immeasurable influence of Eddie’s playing on the next generations and it’s a no-brainer.
Winner: Van Halen by QUICK KO

2nd Album

Aerosmith_-_Get_Your_Wings
On Get Your Wings you are starting to get more of a sense of what Aerosmith would become. It has a couple more classics with “Train Kept A Rollin’” and “Same Old Song and Dance”. The sex theme shows up on “Lord Of The Thighs” along with underrated track “Seasons Of Wither”.

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On the imaginatively titled II, Van Halen does not ease up with “Dance The Night Away”, “Somebody Get Me A Doctor”, and “Beautiful Girls”. The band starts flexing its’ personality more with a heavy dose of Diamond Dave on “Bottoms Up” and more guitar greatness on “Spanish Fly”.
Both albums are great but the Van Halen one is deeper.
Winner: Van Halen by late round stoppage

3rd Album

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Now this is where it gets interesting. On the third album both bands have had a chance to record and tour so they know who they are. At this point of their careers Van Halen is a bigger band. Toys In The Album is a true classic with 3 monster songs in “Walk This Way”, “Sweet Emotion”, and the title track. Add in “Big Ten Inch”, “Uncle Salty”, “You See Me Crying” and this album that will live on your turntable.

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Women And Children First is no slouch though. “And The Cradle Will Rock” and “Everybody Wants Some!!” are two Van Halen staples. There are a couple of other tracks that everyone knows in “Take Your Whiskey Home” and “Romeo’s Delight”. However when push comes to shove, I think Toys is a much better album.
WINNER: Aerosmith by late round KO.

4th Album

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At this point in their careers both bands are pretty big. Aerosmith released album #4 with Rocks. It’s a pretty solid offering. Kicks off with “Back In The Saddle” and “Last Child”. One of my favorite tracks on here is “Nobody’s Fault”along with another underrated track “Sick As A Dog”. Almost forgot about “Lick and A Promise” one more Steven Tyler track dripping with raunchiness.

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Van Halen brought us Women and Children First. The biggies here are “So This Is Love?”, “Unchained”, and “Mean Streets”. All three of those are songs any band would kill to have created. What is interesting is Van Halen’s albums are becoming shorter. The first had 11 tracks now we’re down to 9 with two of them being under two minutes and one of those an instrumental. In a match up between the two albums I think that is a big factor.
Winner: Aerosmith by unanimous decision

5the Album

draw
So by the time we get to album #5 both bands are still huge and if you read Aerosmith’s book you know how far gone the whole band is. The Toxic Twins moniker has clearly been earned. Van Halen is still the party band of their time but don’t seem to be showing the cracks Aerosmith does. The band from Boston released Draw The Line and just like Toys the title track is a killer. The other big track is “Kings and Queens” but “Milk Cow Blues” should not be ignored. Plus it has “Get It Up” a highly ignored rocker.

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The fifth offering from VH was Diver Down. This is kind of an odd album in that it has 12 tracks but 5 of them are covers. And 4 of the remaining are instrumentals. Normally this would be seen a screw job to fans but it’s Van Halen. “Pretty Woman” and “Dancing In The Streets” are pretty iconic covers. As is “Where Have All The Good Time Gone” even though this is another Kinks cover. I guess if it worked once try it again. Right Quiet Riot?
Anyway. Those are all keepers as is the instrumental “Little Guitars”. I must point out that the original songs are stinkers. I don’t know what was going on in the VH camp but this seems like a rush job. I could see someone choosing Draw The Line since they are originals but I got to to with VH.
Winner: Van Halen by split decision

6th Album

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There is something interesting about the first 6 albums from these bands. 1 through 5 came out a year apart but there was a 2-year gap in between 5 and 6. Plus album number 7 had big lineup changes for both. The mighty Aerosmith were in full drug hell by this time. They were a mess and it is kind of evident here. Night In The Ruts is not a bad album but there is not a hammer here. The band seems to have wanted to get back to the blues rock/Zeppelin influence. “Cheese Cake” and “Reefer Headed Woman” are perfect examples. The best track might be “Bone To Bone” but there’s no definite one.

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I can still remember when 1984 came out. During lunch break at high school some classmates ran out and bought it and were listening to it before 4th period. It was the first Van Halen that took advantage of MTV. “Jump” was a big hit but “Hot For Teacher” knocked it out of the park. Add in that it has “Top Jimmy” “Drop Dead Legs”, and “Panama” and the last album by the original 4 was just as gi-normous as their first.
Winner:Van Halen by QUICK KO

Depending on how you scored the 5th album, you either have a draw or 4-2 in favor of Van Halen. I had an idea of how it would go before I wrote this but am kind of shocked how close it ended up being. I love Aerosmith but I think Van Halen is the bigger band. Even if you include the sober Aerosmith you then have to include the Van Hagar years and those were pretty good for them. The first and last album for Van Halen are just monstrous. So many classic songs. However in the middle ones, Aerosmith’s were a lot deeper. I don’t know why Van Halen coasted.
Either way that is a quality catalog that any band would be happy with.
How did you score it?
PS.
I had the top 3 American rock bands as KISS, Van Halen, Aerosmith.

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Stryper-The Covering

Every time I see a band release one of these all covers albums, I cringe. For the most part they all reek of cash grabs or contract fulfillment. Usually they are without any hint of originality or fun, which is sad because the songs should reflect that music that got them excited as kids. Sadly, The Covering, the collection from Stryper is just like the ones I mentioned. I was curious to see which songs the band chose since everyone knows Stryper for being a Christian hard rock group. Most of the songs they picked are typical of what a group of guys growing up in the early 80’s would have listened to. There are the Scorpions, Black Sabbath, KISS, Ozzy, Maiden, Judas Priest and Van Halen songs present. About the only “surprise” is the opener, a cover of Sweet’s “Set Me Free”. While the band does a nice job in retaining the spirit of the original here, it cannot be said of the others. It all starts to sound like background noise at your local bar with a well produced cover act on stage.

What is most disappointing about The Covering is the song selection. Too many of them were obvious choices or did not fit the bands ability. So I will do something a little different and go track by track and review and offer my suggestion for what they should have done.

Set Me Free”, by The Sweet. I liked this one as it was a little different and also not the obvious song to pick from that bands catalog.

Blackout”, by The Scorpions. Not a bad cover but not a good one either. With Michael Sweet’s high range, one of the Scorps’ slower songs like “Still In Love With You” may have been better. I know that it is a hit but “Blackout” is one of that bands biggest songs as well.

Heaven and Hell”, by Black Sabbath. Great choice of a Dio era Sabbath song and no complaints about this one.

Lights Out”, by UFO. Such a great song and Stryper does it justice. My only other choice for them would have been “Love To Love”.

Carry On My Wayward Son”, by Kansas. This radio rock staple just comes across as so cover band. When I hear this I imagine drunk 50 year-old’s swaying in front of the stage and singing every other line as the struggle with consciousness. I think “Play the Game Tonight” would have been a lot more enjoyable.

Highway Star”, by Deep Purple. This was a bad idea. Robert’s voice sounds way too clean for this and Oz Fox cannot play Blackmore. I may have gone with “Comin Home” or another song that had Coverdale on vocals.

Shout It Out Loud”, by KISS. Not one of KISS’ best songs but we all have KISS songs that we love that we probably shouldn’t. The inherent obstacle with choosing a KISS song is that almost all of them are about sex and that does not jive with Stryper’s belief. So you have to go with a Paul song, especially since his vocals would work for Stryper. “Tomorrow” or maybe “100,000 years”

Over the Mountain”, by Ozzy. This is just plain atrocious. Micheal’s vocals do not work and the guitar playing is horrendous. I would have stayed away from Ozzy because his stuff is so iconic and his vocals do not easily match up with Michael’s range. “Rock N Roll Rebel” would have been the best choice just on song title alone.

The Trooper”, by Iron Maiden. As bad as you think the Ozzy track is, this is ten times worse. Just a really, really bad idea. It reeks of cover band at your corner sports bar so much that you actually feel bad. If anything they should have chosen one of Maiden’s poppier tracks to better ft them. “Can I Play with Madness” would have been so much better of a choice.

Breaking the Law” by Judas Priest. Again sports bar cover band here as well. Just very very blah and with these choices of heavier bands it sounds like the band is in over there head. They seem a pace behind and it does not work. “Love Bites” or “Hot Rockin” if someone would have asked me.

On Fire” by Van Halen. I do applaud the choice on this one. Not an obvious one but once again, the original vocals do not translate well to Stryper. God made only one Diamond Dave and we should all respect that. You figure that of all the bands, Stryper would know that. I really wish the band would have showed a little self deprecation and done “Runnin With The Devil” the high range would fit and the band would have gotten major points for it.

Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin. Covering Zeppelin is a very tricky endeavor. They are such an iconic band and their stuff is so well known that any deviation is almost heresy. So this is a almost no-win situation and they did a good job here.

The album finishes up with the lone original track, “God”. I will let you guess what the subject matter is but sonically it is definitely classic Stryper

After the disc finishes playing I do not know how many people will be anxiously waiting to replay it. Only a handle full of the covers are decent and while the new song is good, it is not that good. With The Covering, Stryper showed everyone the bands that caused them to start playing. While I think every band has makes up this kind of list, this one should have been left in the jam room.

 

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