This month’s Classic Albums Column focuses on Van Halen’s second album Van Halen II. Mars Attacks Podcast episode 46 features comments from Charlie Benante, Gene Hoglan, Glen Drover, Chris Poland, Alan Tecchio, Dave Reffett, Martin Popoff, Mark Strigl, and John from Iron City Rocks. As we established with the previous podcast we also discuss why this album was selected. You will find the podcast at the bottom of this post.
Here are comments that have been contributed to us via e-mail regarding Van Halen II. Remember to check out the index page if you’re not sure who someone is, or to check out their sites to find out more about what they do. Again, these comments are in the order we’ve received them.
Bumblefoot – Some really cool songs on this album – Doctor, Bottoms Up, Outta Love, Light Up the Sky, DOA… great guitar moments in every song, that incredible guitar sound that I WISH I could get – and a great acoustic instrumental to break things up – it’s a killer follow up to a groundbreaking debut album.
Greg Prato – Not sure what my favorite VH album is (perhaps either ‘Van Halen’ or ‘Fair Warning’), but ‘VH II’ is a classic as well. Raw and rocking, that DLR era VH line-up was – to borrow a quote from the movie ‘The Blues Brothers’ – powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline. “Dance the Night Away,” “Outta Love Again,” “Light Up the Sky,” “DOA” – VH was unquestionably THE KINGS of US rock n’ roll in the early 1980’s…until Mr. Roth exited.
Dave Starr – I think the debut CD was better, but this record is still pretty cool. EVH re-wrote the book on rock/metal guitar.
Dan Lorenzo – While I fully understand Eddie Van Halen is one of the most important guitarists of all time, I never got in to Van Halen too much. Obviously they have a dozen or so phenomenal songs. Here’s what I didn’t like. I don’t like guys in overalls. I’m not a fan of guitarists smiling onstage. Diamond Dave? Too Hollywood for me. To lead off your 2nd cd with a fucking cover song? You’re kidding me, right? HADES did cover “Somebody Get Me A Doctor” in the early 80s back when we were a cover band, but only because our drummer at the time was an enormous VH fan. “Dance The Night Away” is a nice enough song..if you’re a girl. I DID love songs off other VH albums like “Atomic Punk”, “Everybody Wants Some”. Jamie’s Crying”…..but I never felt the desire to see VH live. Too California. Too happy. Not heavy in any way shape or form. I know most people would disagree with me…but I would have been fine if Van Halen never existed.
Jon Leon – Along with GNR Appetite for Destruction the most important LA sunset strip rocker metal album ever recorded. Dead or Alive is the greatest LA rebel teenage anthem ever. Never was Van Halen so full of killer riffing. David Lee Roth has never been better and I would kill to go back in time to a backyard party in Pasadena when this album was released and see this band live. I would do kegstands all night.
Erik Kluiber – One of the greatest bands of all time. Anything from the Roth era is pure gold
Ricky Armellino – I think Jack likes that record. I don’t know, I never owned a Sunbird or anything like that so it never rotated in my car. No one wants to hear Van Halen coming out of a jeep. They just want that all wheel drive muscle roaring. What up ladies.
Chris Tsangarides – Another of my all time faves! Although it took me a long time to come to terms with Alex’s “donk” sound of his snare. Just by using one guitar through most of the album demonstrates how awesome they would have sounded in the live concert! Eddie’s guitar is like nothing we had heard back then and started a whole new trend for guitar players….
Kevin Estrada – This album has to be one of, if not THE, most anticipated albums in my life. Van Halen was my band. I will never forget the day I discovered the band – I was 11 years old, walking through a department store with my mother and brother. I flipped through the new releases in their tiny record department. The sight of Edward Van Halen’s black and white striped Frankenstrat changed my life. My brother and I put our money together and purchased the LP. That piece of vinyl never left our turntable! I had never been so moved and changed by music in my life. This is what I was looking for, I had finally found it – Van Halen. I counted down the months, weeks, days until the release of Van Halen II. I was not disappointed! From the opening notes of “You’re No Good” to Dave’s farewell kiss on “Beautiful Girls” – it was perfection! The songs, the solos, the vocals, the tone, the attitude – it was all there.
Jim Florentine – No sophomore jinx here. DOA is my fav Van Halen song
JL – The typical thing would be to just focus on Eddie Van Halen, but I was never a fan of the guitar heroes and all of their pyrotechnics. With this album David Lee Roth’s vocal excesses really stand out. You have to really listen to the vocal tracks to realize how over the top he really was. There are times when it seems as if there are two notes coming out of his mouth at the same time. Listening to him leaves me speachless!
Chris Shrum – A trend setting classic album and a piece of music history
Mikey Pannone – Very underrated album! Heavier than the first one. You can tell they had such a great time recording it. “Light up the Sky” is probably my favorite track from this one.
John Nymann – It’s tough to follow Van Halen’s epic first release, even for VH. This second album does have some classic moments, though, to solidify them as the world’s premier party rock band. Starting off with a cover tune “Your No Good” was just No Good! Especially, when they have the perfect song “Dance the Night Away” (Pure Power Pop) this should have started the record, IMO. “Doctor” and “Bottoms Up” are typical VH tunes and work good to fill out the album. The highlights for me are Eddie’s “Spanish Fly”…his amazing dancing fingers, so clean and pure of a performance on a nylon string. The cool groove tune “Women In Love”…Michael Anthony’s vocals sound great on this tune. And the classic David Lee Roth moment “Beautiful Girls.” Also, I’d give “Light Up The Sky” an honorable mention for an inventive tune and arrangement for the time.
Will Carroll – A classic. Maybe the greatest summertime rock album ever made. Even the muddy production can’t stop the vibe and brilliance.
Steve Smyth – Love this album, as this was one of the first albums I learned in it’s entirety. Eddie’s tone on this album is amazing, the harmonies of Michael, Eddie and David Lee are awesome and hard to beat! My favorite songs are: Somebody Get Me A Doctor, DOA, Spanish Fly, jesus, the entire album rocks!
Chad Bowar – I wasn’t very old when Van Halen II was released, and discovered it a few years later along with the rest of Van Halen’s early material. I prefer their debut album, but II has some great songs as well. “Dance The Night Away” and “Somebody Get Me A Doctor” are classics. Sammy Hagar is a better singer, but David Lee Roth is the consumate frontman, and the Roth-era albums are great. I actually don’t want them to make a new record, because there’s no way the Van Halen of today can hold a candle to the Van Halen of the late ’70s/early ’80s.
Karl “Inski” Szulik – ‘Beautiful Girls’ was one of the first rock/metal songs I attempted to learn when I got my first electric guitar. I had already had a few years practice on acoustic, but totally wanted to rock it with overdriven guitar! That day I came home and spent hours practicing that song. All my mates dropped by that night and were like “play some Offspring dude!” But instead I ripped out ‘Beautiful Girls’ and kicked arse! Eventually I bought a Peavey Wolfgang so I could be just like Eddie. He is incredibly talented and someone I still look up to as a guitarist.
Domonic R – I understand that most of the tracks of the VH2 was done prior to the first one. This one had to be a nice addition to the VH collection. And actually did a great job in keeping the power and the guitar shredding to a max. One of the greatest follow up releases to date.
Ken Pierce – “Van Halen II” was a strong successor to the self-titled debut for sure. I always felt that VHII was a tad more playful in its song composition with tunes like “Bottom’s Up”, “Beautiful Girls” and the blockbuster single “Dance The Night Away”. “Light Up The Sky” felt like an anthem of living an energetic life to me and I just loved the drum solo as a player myself around that time. The grand presentation of the bands logo on the album cover spoke volumes to the bands power and the material still holds up thirty years later.
Remember that you can go here index page to find out further details on everyone involved in the column.
The podcast portion can be streamed or downloaded from here: