Outta Love Again

22Feb07

Well, it seems the latest Van Halen reunion had all the staying power of a Britney Spears rehab visit. Only a week ago, Rolling Stone provided an exclusive look at what they dubbed Van Halen 2.0 (although, as an Idolator commenter pointed out, it’s actually Van Halen 4.0). Now Idolator reports that the proposed reunion tour is a no-go. And it’s no surprise.

That might sound weird coming from a die-hard Roth-era Van Halen fan who obsessively checked the Van Halen News Desk on an hourly basis for any and all information on the subject the last time a David Lee Roth reunion was teased — more than a decade ago, if you can believe it — but I’m actually kind of pleased. I never really thought of it as a real reunion.

Why? No Michael Anthony. After only grudgingly allowing Mike to tour with the band in 2004 (provided he signed an agreement reducing his cut of the royalties) and freezing him out of the recording of the three new tracks the band cut with Sammy Hagar that year, Eddie Van Halen kicked Mike out of the band in 2006, installing his 15-year-old son Wolfgang as Van Halen’s new bassist. From what I’ve read, Eddie’s problem with Mike is that he’s still pals with Sammy Hagar, and the last straw was when Mike toured with Sammy as the Other Half in 2006. You think he wouldn’t hold it against Mike for finding himself something to do when his band basically decides to sit out of the music industry and do nothing for a decade, but it’s pretty clear that Eddie is just a mean drunk and a miserable human being, and since he’s the common thread in the bust-ups with Dave, Sam, and Mike, not to mention his bust-up with his wife, Valerie Bertinelli, it’s easy to guess who’s to blame.

I’ve often said Mike Anthony was like the Ringo Starr or Al Jardine of Van Halen: just the funny-looking guy who, to his own surprise as much as anyone else’s, somehow wound up in the band without seeming to have any plausible reason to be there. (Of course, sometimes being a funny-looking guy is a reason in itself to be in the band; one theory has it that Pete Best was turfed from the Beatles for being better looking than John Lennon and Paul McCartney. But that’s a somewhat facetious argument. Al Jardine might have been a funny-looking guy, but he had a good reason to be in the Beach Boys; not only did he have a similar falsetto to Brian Wilson’s that allowed him to substitute for Brian in the studio and in concert, but I’ve always thought his voice had a gritty Dion DiMucci quality that was otherwise lacking from the group’s sound. Similarly, that big fat party animal Mike was actually Van Halen’s secret weapon: Mike fronted his own band before joining the Van Halen brothers, and his background vocals were an integral part of the band’s sound.

But more than that, he’s an original member, and a reunion just isn’t a reunion without all the original lineup. sorry, Wolfie, but the only person I might accept as a replacement for Anthony is Billy Sheehan, for four reasons: First, before he went off to form Mr. Big, Sheehan played with Dave in the Eat ’em and Smile band; in fact, “Shy Boy” was originally a tune by Sheehan’s old band, Talas. (Sheehan played three concerts with Van Halen III singer Gary Cherone last year too, for what that’s worth.) Second, Sheehan says that back when Talas was opening for Van Halen in 1980, Eddie tried to get him to ditch his band and replace Anthony as Van Halen’s bassist. (Two notes there: First, you can see how long Eddie’s had it in for Mike, and second, it’s not unlike how Gene Simmons tried to poach Eddie away from Van Halen to join KISS when he first took the band under his wing.) Third, Sheehan is sometimes called the Eddie Van Halen of the bass, so it’s a shame for him not to be playing with the Eddie Van Halen of the guitar, Eddie Van Halen. And fourth, Sheehan is a Scientologist, and say what you will about Scientology, but I hear they’ve got a great rehab program for substance abuse and after years of alcohol and drug problems, Eddie can use whatever help he can get on that front.

Now rumour has it that the tour might not be totally off after all, and that the band might be just waiting until they get inducted to the Rock and Holl Hall of Fame next month to make the formal announcement. And that’s going to be an interesting situation, considering that Mike and Sammy are being inducted right alongside Dave and the Van Halen brothers. (No Gary, although his note of congratulations to the other guys shows him to be a class act.) Will they bury the hatchet long enough to play a tune or two at the ceremony? If they play one song, I suggest a cover — “You Really Got Me” — with Sam and Dave trading off verses. If they play two, a medley of one Dave tune and one Sammy tune might be a nice way to go; “Dance the Night Away/Top of the World” could work pretty well, for instance.

I’d actually like to see them go out on a high note like that, dancing the night away on top of the world, with everyone happily co-existing for one last time. Let Sam and Dave share the stage. Let Mike play with the band and hell, let Wolfie play a bass solo. He’s not being inducted, but no one would be too upset about him getting to play with his dad once while he was still relatively near the top of his game. Let everybody walk away with good feelings, then forget the reunion and go on to other projects. For instance, Eddie could join up with Axl Rose, Mike Love, and whoever the biggest jerks were in Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles, and form some kind of all-asshole Los Angeles rock supergroup. I’m just throwing that out there.



4 Responses to “Outta Love Again”

  1. 1 hilly

    Bah to Van Halen, sir! Tchah! The only reunion I’d ever pee myself over is a My Bloody Valentine tour celebrating their first release since…well, fuck me, it’s been a while.

    I was so freaky-deaky about MBV that, over seven years ago, I bought the guitar featured on the cover of Loveless. I had to borrow the money from my mother, who (even though I paid her back) still gives me grief to this day about buying a musical instrument that I have no clue how to play.

    In some circles, this was like finding a large chunk of the True Cross. Not enough to get me laid, mind you, but it at least put me in “potentially layable” territory with the hawt art-school-looking girls.

    Still, if the Pixies can set aside their differences and acknowledge that Kim Deal was the TRUE GENIUS behind the band, there’s alway hope.

    PS: I want to hear a techno dance remix of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way.”

  2. I had assumed that Michael Anthony wasn’t a part of the reunion roster because his professional sumo wrestling career hadn’t allowed for it. I had also heard rumours that they had originally planned to recruit Waldo, but that fell through because nobody’s really sure what happened to him after graduation.

    Your link to Gary Cherone’s letter is broken. Do fix it when you can, because I’d love to check that out.

  3. Hilly: A techno dance remix of “Go Your Own Way” would work. It would really, really work. Now I want to hear it too. By the way, you’ve reminded me of my current favorite mash-up, a ridiculous blend of “Smack My Bitch Up” and “Orinoco Flow”. The version at this link isn’t the same one I have, but it’ll give you an idea.

    And chances are you’ve seen this, but Kevin Shields puts the odds of another My Bloody Valentine record being made at “100%”. That makes it 100% more likely than a Smiths reunion, which is the one I’d really like to see.

    Matt: Link fixed. But on the off chance his MySpace space messes up (not understanding it, I don’t trust MySpace), here’s his statement:

    “It was only a matter of time before the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame recognized one of the greatest and most influential rock bands of all time, whose guitar player changed the course of rock ‘n roll!
    Congratulations to my friends Alex, Eddie, Michael, Dave and Sammy… The mighty Van Halen! An incredible honor.

    – Gary Cherone

    PS: To answer the few fans who are wondering whether I should, or shouldn’t be included? While yes, I was a small part of their history, I was certainly not a part of their legend, and that is what WE, the fans are celebrating!”

  4. Sheehan is a Scientologist

    Shit. I just downloaded two of his solo albums which seemed pretty promising, but I really have a very strict “No Hubbard zombies in my art” policy. Oh well…


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