2000 - TRIBUTE

Triage Records Inc. TOCP-65353
Produced by: Bob Kulick

Released: OUT NOW
Closest Relative: Van Halen
GENRE: Hard Rock

  1. Unchained
  2. I'm The One
  3. Dance The Night Away
  4. Light Up The Sky
  5. Panama
  6. Hot For Teacher
  7. Runnin' With The Devil
  8. (Oh) Pretty Woman
  9. Atomic Punk
  10. So This Is Love
  11. Little Guitars

Out of the plethora of Tribute albums that have flooded the market and seem to be showing no signs of slowing down comes the latest and maybe greatest tribute project yet. Van Halen.
Produced by Bob Kulick and recorded in LA, with primarily the cream of LA's hard rock community, this tribute album has possibly the best sound of any of the ones before it and definitely the best production quality.
Bob Kulick was also behind the recently released Aerosmith project.
Once again the organizers of this album have decided to forget half the band's history (as also unfortunately done on the Queen, Aerosmith, Kiss and Rush tributes) and have concentrated on the David Lee Roth era tracks. Van Halen are however one of the few bands one can cut in half their career and get away with it, given that the Sammy Hagar era did have a new sound to it.
Maybe there could be a Van Halen Tribute Volume 2 covering that era? Please?
On to the tracks! And finally a tribute that sticks to most of the better known tracks instead of trying to be arty and find the most obscure ass tracks a band has ever recorded (some of the tracks on the Rush & Queen tributes).
Unchained opens the album in fine style. Dweezil Zappa does a fine Eddie Van Halen, a nice big thick guitar sound. Marco Mendoza and Eric Singer provide the rhythm section. On lead vocals and somewhat disguised is Jack Russell of Great White. He does a killer vocal and reminded me that he really can sing hard rock when he wants to. Lets have some more of this Jack!
I'm The One features Doug Aldrich as EVH with Tim Bogert and Frankie Banali as the rhythm. The track is somewhat looser and in the good fun vibe of the original. Mark Slaughter also does a good vocal, which coming from me is a good compliment as I have never been overly convinced of his vocal ability. Some good screams in there.
Dance The Night Away sticks very close to the original and Joe Lynn Turner turns in his best Dave impersonation. Solid backing vocals and more great guitar from the very cool Reb Beach (Winger, Dokken). Mendoza and Gregg Bissonette round out the track.
Light Up The Sky is one of the lesser known tracks and is sung by Kings X vocalist Doug Pinnick. Probably the least convincing vocal on the album. Yngwie Malmsteen handles guitar duties - again not bad, a great solo mid song, but that's it. Billy Sheen handles bass (yes, you can tell!) and Vinnie Colaiuta is drumming.
Panama is much more like it! Smoking lead guitar from George Lynch - nice to see he can still rock, not rap - and vocals from Jani Lane. Rhythm from Tony Franklin (Blue Murder) and Gregg Bissonette. Lane's vocals surprised me, as I have also never been a huge Warrant fan. A solid vocal and fantastic heavy rhythm section.
Hot For Teacher sees Franklin and Bissonette playing off each other again with the Union duo of John Corabi and Bruce Kulick featured. Continuing the great sound of the Union album, these two do a stellar job and keep it close to the original.
Runnin' With The Devil features Stephen Pearcy, Jake E Lee, Tim Bogert and Frankie Banali. Not a bad version, but lacking a little spark.
(Oh) Pretty Woman is perfect. Brothers Matt & Gunnar Nelson bring their duel harmony vocals to this great cover, with blues guitar from Albert Lee and rhythm from the great Tony Levin & Ansley Dunbar. Always a pop number, this track is done perfectly by Nelson. Killer harmonies.
Atomic Punk is one of Van Halen's early classics. Guitars here from Night Ranger's Brad Gillis, who doesn't miss a beat. Vocals from the Tubes' Fee Waybill and backing from Bogert and Banali. Not bad, the vocals let me down a little, but the rest is great.
So This Is Love sees Jeff Scott Soto take lead vocal. As one would expect, it's a flawless performance in his best DLR voice. Blues Saraceno adds a little blues rock guitar to the song, with Tony Franklin & Eric Singer providing solid rhythm.
Little Guitars finishes of the album. Another early classic. David Glenn Eisley (Stream, Giuffria, Dirty White Boy, War Dogs) sings a great track, a mix of his own style with the original. Mitch Perry provides some great acoustic and electric work in fine EVH style and Marco Mendoza and Eric Singer round out the track.
BOTTOM LINE: Obviously aimed at Van Halen fans, this tribute album is solid enough and contains enough great solo performances by the musicians, it should register interest outside the initial Van Halen circle and be a favourite for fans of good hard rock.
ESSENTIAL FOR: All fans of Van Halen and fans of the usual suspects all involved in this tribute.