Van Halen’s ‘Diver Down’: A Observe-By-Observe Information


Van Halen‘s Diver Down was a masterclass in making quite a bit out of somewhat.

The band had solely itself accountable for the rushed circumstances of its fifth album. When Van Halen wrapped the Truthful Warning tour in late 1981, they’d deliberate to take a well-earned break from the nonstop album/tour schedule they’d been following for 4 years. However first, on the behest of David Lee Roth, they determined to bang out a fast cowl tune and music video to purchase a while, selecting a rendition of Roy Orbison‘s “(Oh) Fairly Girl.”

The gambit backfired gloriously when “(Oh) Fairly Girl” shot to No. 12 on the Billboard Scorching 100 and Warner Bros. promptly demanded a brand new album inside weeks to capitalize on the band’s momentum. Van Halen had dashed their R&R plans as a result of they could not cease making hit data in the event that they tried.

Consequently, Diver Down – which was launched on April 14, 1982 – incorporates solely 4 full-length authentic songs, together with 5 covers and three instrumentals. Some critics lampooned the album upon launch and took it as an indication the band was working on empty. However though Diver Down was an admitted rush job, it was removed from a hack job. Van Halen play the covers with well-oiled bar-band panache, and their originals crackle with spontaneous verve and virtuosity, notably Eddie Van Halen‘s solo compositions.

Followers had been apparently grateful for the palate cleanser after the knotty, progressive pop-metal of Truthful Warning, and Diver Down peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and finally went quadruple platinum. Learn on for a track-by-track information to probably the most misunderstood and divisive Van Halen album of the DLR period.

“The place Have All of the Good Instances Gone!”

4 years after issuing “You Actually Received Me” as their first single, Van Halen pilfered the Kinks‘ catalog as soon as once more for the opening monitor on Diver Down. Van Halen had roughly half a dozen Kinks songs in rotation throughout their membership days, having discovered a complete aspect of a compilation album that Roth owned. “The place have all the great occasions gone? I am critical,” the singer lamented to Creem in 1982. “It occurred to punk rock quite a bit, it occurred to new wave, it occurred to reggae and heavy metallic and on and on — numerous enterprise folks simply wish to make a buck, and so they’re changing into craftsmen greater than songwriters.”


“Grasp ‘Em Excessive”

The quickest, heaviest rocker on Diver Down, “Grasp ‘Em Excessive” was initially recorded with totally different lyrics below the title “Final Evening” for consideration on Van Halen’s debut album. It shares its title with a 1968 Western starring Clint Eastwood, and its lyrics seem like impressed by the actor. Roth’s feedback in regards to the track on the time of its launch help that conjecture. “It is all these Westerns the place there’s some type of dissonant sound within the background, like they’re going to have one harmonica that solely hits one be aware – eeeee – and that is when that the hero is coming into city or one thing horrible or great goes to occur,” he instructed Creem. “And what occurs is Edward will give you a track or a riff or a part of a track, after which instantly I am going to hear it and I am going to know instantly what the state of affairs is. I am going to simply know.”



The conventional instrumental quantity on Diver Down was far faraway from the breakneck shredding of “Eruption” and “Spanish Fly,” however no much less compelling. Utilizing a boatload of echo and refrain, Eddie Van Halen emulated the sound of a church organ on his 1961 Fender Stratocaster, hammering notes along with his left hand whereas twisting the amount knob along with his proper. “If you happen to flip it an excessive amount of, too quick, the factor heats up and freezes up,” Van Halen instructed Guitar Participant in 1982. “I did two takes of it, and proper on the finish of the second take, the amount knob simply froze, simply stopped.”


“Secrets and techniques”

Van Halen did not agonize over the swinging, languid “Secrets and techniques.” The lyrics had been impressed by a collection of greeting playing cards Roth purchased in Albuquerque, N.M., written within the model of Indigenous poetry. “You have to refill your bucket,” the singer defined to Creem. “You have heard music by folks with empty buckets? Music all about groupies, about airplanes, about happening the street, accommodations. Not too many individuals can relate to that. They like to listen to about it a few times, however most of us really feel unnoticed.” Eddie Van Halen, in the meantime, swapped his signature Frankenstrat in favor of a double-neck Gibson EDS-1275, popularized by Jimmy Web page, and lower the laid-back solo in a single take. “What folks do not realize is a track like ‘Secrets and techniques,’ it would not name for a fucking loopy solo,” Van Halen instructed Guitar Participant. “You need to do a solo that matches the track.”


“Intruder / (Oh) Fairly Girl”

Following the grueling Truthful Warning tour, Van Halen determined to bang out a fast cowl track to maintain themselves within the public eye and purchase time with their file label. They settled on Roy Orbison’s “(Oh) Fairly Girl,” which was accompanied by an elaborate music video that includes the costumed band members — Roth as Napoleon, Eddie as a cowboy, Alex Van Halen as Tarzan and Michael Anthony as a samurai — rescuing a drag queen from the clutches of two perverted dwarves. The video ran longer than the three-minute track, so Van Halen wrote the droning instrumental “Intruder” (that includes Roth on the Minimoog analog synthesizer) to flesh it out. “(Oh) Fairly Girl” was a success, peaking at No. 12 on the Billboard Scorching 100. Sadly, Van Halen’s plan to purchase themselves time backfired, as Warner Bros. demanded an instantaneous follow-up album upon studying of the only’s success. “While you put out a success single, you higher have an album to go behind it, as a result of no one — the corporate, the act — makes any actual cash on a single,” producer Ted Templeman wrote in his 2020 autobiography, Ted Templeman: A Platinum Producer’s Life in Music. “I am positive these guys thought that by releasing a single and video, they may briefly pause the annual album/tour cycle that they’d been on since 1977. However as an alternative, the phrase got here all the way down to me from Mo [Ostin] and Lenny [Waronker] that Warner Bros. needed a brand new Van Halen album inside weeks. Van Halen’s administration agreed. So the message to the band and me was ‘OK, guys, you have bought a success. Let’s get shifting. Go into the studio.'”

Learn Extra: How Van Halen’s ‘(Oh) Fairly Girl’ Led to Rushed ‘Diver Down’


“Dancing within the Road”

You would be forgiven for assuming that cowl songs are a better, lower-stakes train for a band than writing originals, however that was hardly the case with Van Halen’s rendition of Martha and the Vandellas’ “Dancing within the Road.” Eddie Van Halen ornamented the Motown traditional with a pulsating Minimoog synthesizer riff, which he had initially deliberate to make use of for a composition. “It was going to be a very totally different track,” Van Halen instructed Guitar World in 2014. “I envisioned it being extra like a Peter Gabriel track as an alternative of what it turned out to be, however when Ted Templeman heard it, he determined it might be nice for ‘Dancing within the Road.'” The disagreement over “Dancing within the Road” widened the schism between Eddie Van Halen, who needed extra management to push the band in new instructions, and Roth and Templeman, who most well-liked the hard-rocking, live-in-the-room method of their early data. It did not assist that Van Halen perceived the essential response as ill-informed. “I spent numerous time arranging and enjoying synthesizer and shit on ‘Dancing within the Road,’ and they’re simply gonna write it off as, ‘Oh, it is identical to the unique.’ However that is bullshit,” he instructed Guitar Participant.

Learn Extra: Did One Track Drive the Collapse of Van Halen’s Authentic Lineup?


“Little Guitars (Intro) / Little Guitars”

Eddie Van Halen wrote and recorded the poppy, rhythmically dexterous “Little Guitars” on a miniature Gibson Les Paul copy constructed by Nashville luthier David Petschulat. “I feel the most effective factor that I do is cheat,” Van Halen stated of the track’s 40-second flamenco guitar intro. “I purchased a few [Carlos] Montoya data. I am listening to this man fingerpicking, and I am going, ‘My God, this motherfucker’s nice. I can not try this.’ So what I did was I simply type of listened to that model of enjoying for a pair days, and I cheated. … What I am doing is trilling on the excessive E and simply slapping my center finger on the low E. … If there’s one thing that I wish to do, I will not surrender till I can determine some solution to make it sound much like what I actually cannot do.” The intro to “Little Guitars” additionally impressed Roth’s lyrics. “I bought the thought for the track from the acoustic half – it sounded Mexican to me so I wrote a track for a senorita,” he instructed Creem.


“Massive Dangerous Invoice (Is Candy William Now)”

Based on Eddie Van Halen, David Lee Roth bought the thought to cowl this 1924 Milton Anger and Jack Yellen tune after listening to it on his Walkman whereas he was at his father’s home in Louisville, Ky. “He simply picked it up and recorded it and performed it to us, and we simply began laughing ourselves foolish and going, ‘That’s dangerous! Let’s do it!'” Van Halen instructed Guitar Participant. The track grew to become a fair greater household affair when Roth prompt getting Van Halen’s father, Jan, to play the clarinet. “He hasn’t performed his clarinet in 10 years as a result of he misplaced his left-hand center finger about 10 years in the past,” Van Halen stated. “He was nervous as shit, and we’re simply telling him, ‘Jan, simply fuckin’ have an excellent time. We make errors! That is what makes it actual.’ I like what he did, nevertheless it’s simply that he is considering again 10 years in the past when he was smokin’, enjoying jazz and stuff. … However fuck, it is precisely what we needed.”


“The Full Bug”

David Lee Roth flexes his harmonica and rudimentary acoustic guitar expertise for the final time with Van Halen on this boozy blues-rock jam in regards to the advantage of ending what ya began. “You recognize when you may have a cockroach and so they run round the home and get into the nook?” Roth requested Creem. “We used to have these footwear known as PRFCs – Puerto Rican Fence Climbers, OK? And this was aptly titled as a result of should you had been working from any individual or the police or what have you ever, and also you had been sporting your PRFCs, you can hit the fence at a lifeless run and your foot would keep anyway. And these had been additionally nice for when the cockroach strikes into the nook and you may’t get at it together with your foot or the broom anymore. You simply jam your toe into the nook and hit as exhausting as you possibly can, and should you did it proper, you get the complete bug. So this slang means, to get the complete bug, bammm! You need to give it the whole lot you have bought, make the utmost effort, do the whole lot potential, get the complete bug.”


“Completely satisfied Trails”

David Lee Roth has at all times worn his love for old-school Hollywood showbiz on his sleeve, so the choice to cowl The Roy Rogers Present theme track ought to have come as no shock. “You would not imagine the variety of TV commercials and radio jingles this band can sing in four-part concord,” Roth boasted to Creem. “I used to be nannied and weaned by TV — that is the babysitter round right here if you’re rising up, to take a seat in entrance of the tube. You flip right into a vidiot. I keep in mind all of the commercials. … We have been singing ‘Completely satisfied Trails’ collectively for basic airport use for years. And we needed to do one thing great and totally different for you.”

Van Halen Albums Ranked

A rating of each Van Halen album.


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