Album Of The Week – November 7, 2022

This week’s pick is one of rock’s greatest albums. The songs married the sounds of the time with the band’s already-established formula and created a whirlwind that marks one of the most successful periods in the group’s career. It would also be the last offering from this phase of the band for many years.

Van Halen – 1984

Released January 9, 1984 via Warner Bros. Records

My Favorite Tracks – Hot For Teacher, Panama, I’ll Wait

The lead-up to 1984 was a bit contentious for Van Halen. The band had rushed out Diver Down and Eddie Van Halen was prevented from his desired use of synthesizers. In 1983 he sequestered himself in his new home studio and used a synthesizer for the whole year, in defiance of the wishes of David Lee Roth and the record label.

The results weren’t to be argued, though. The slate of songs Eddie came up with worked, both within the band’s sound and as an update to their offerings. This album was chock full of hits and several of the songs would become iconic pieces of Van Halen’s catalog.

It is a rather short album in some respects – 8 songs with a total time of 33 minutes. But there is a lot to talk about, given the legendary nature and success of these songs.


Keeping things even more concise is the first track, a minute long instrumental that only features synthesizer. That’s about all there is to it.


The proper lead track is likely Van Halen’s most recognized song. Jump features the keyboard front and center, with Eddie’s guitar taking complimentary role. Roth originally based the lyrics around footage of someone contemplating suicide from a tall building, but later reworked them to fashion a more inspiring message.

Jump is Van Halen’s biggest single, being their only number one entry on the Billboard Hot 100. Jump has been ever-present in society in the 38 years since its release.


Eddie put up the keyboard here and offered a more conventional Van Halen track. The song sounds like the prototypical Van Halen party track but is actually about David Lee Roth’s race car. It’s all the same, really, and this is another widely celebrated song. Panama was a top 20 single and is another VH tune that’s never more than a stone’s throw away. It’s also a very nice bridge to the earlier material.

Top Jimmy

Another guitar-focused track, this upbeat song is a tribute to a gigging band Roth used to catch at a club in Hollywood. Many rock songs have been written about the rise and fall of music stars, but this song simply shines light on a group that went out and played, without the shitty ending.

Drop Dead Legs

Nothing much to get into here – it’s a groovy, Eddie-on-the-guitar tune whose lyrical content is blatantly obvious. Nothing wrong with short and to the point.

Hot For Teacher

The band’s final single from the DLR era is a thing to behold. Alex Van Halen rumbles in with an intense double-bass drum solo intro, then Eddie joins in with some crazy fretwork to kick off this massive rock tune.

The song is, again, simple in premise – guy’s got the hots for his teacher. It has been a common deal since school has been a thing. The song is electric and takes everything to 11. While the single didn’t’ crack the US Top 40, the MTV video was a sensation and saw massive airplay.

I’ll Wait

Another single, this song goes back to the keyboard-heavy approach of Jump. It’s a bit of a slower tune and the synth being at the forefront works well.

An outside collaborator was brought in to help with the lyrics – Michael McDonald, he of the Doobie Brothers and sundry other projects, helped Roth along with the words. McDonald was not credited on certain versions of the release initially, for reasons not made clear.

I’ll Wait matched Panama’s success on the US Billboard singles chart, hitting position 13.

Girl Gone Bad

Heading toward album’s end with a song that showcases a bit of a cleaner guitar tone from Eddie, something a bit brighter that might be a preview of Van Halen to come. There are also words sung about a girl gone bad, which is literally all there is to say about the song’s lyrical theme.

House Of Pain

The album closes on a very old-time VH sounding tune with a very heavy, driving riff. It’s about rough sex, or about not enough rough sex, or not about rough sex, or maybe all of the above – all is possible within the David Lee Roth multiverse.

1984 was a smash success for Van Halen. The album sold well out of the gate, hitting gold just a bit after release. It is in a virtual tie with the debut album as Van Halen’s best-selling record, both being over 10 million and diamond certified in the US. 1984 is often at or very near the top of many VH album rankings and is cited as one of the best albums of the 1980’s.

It’s worth noting that the “synth” arguments about the album are pretty overblown. It’s two whole songs, three if you count the intro. It wasn’t the first time VH used synth either, so the fuss probably comes down to the success of Jump as a single. It might have been different to hear Eddie base a song off of keys rather than guitar, but it gets boring when artists do the same thing over and over again, and Eddie Van Halen wasn’t going to be that kind of artist.

The band would tour behind the album and then long-running tensions would see David Lee Roth exit Van Halen to pursue a solo career. Van Halen would regroup with Sammy Hagar and enter a musically different yet commercially fantastic era.

Roth’s exit was a foregone conclusion, as fans would find out mostly in retrospect. Roth and Eddie Van Halen butted head creatively, with Roth not fond of the synth-based direction Eddie wanted to take. 1984 seems to be Eddie’s response to that. Roth was also presented with opportunities that later didn’t pan out, so heading out on his own was a fairly logical choice.

However things afterward went down, there is no argument that 1984 was a pinnacle album for Van Halen. It was a more cohesive effort that offered up quality work even in secondary tracks, something other early-era albums could sometimes lack. It captured the attention of the world at large and made Van Halen one of rock’s biggest names in an era where rock was king.

8 thoughts on “Album Of The Week – November 7, 2022

  1. Like John said the synths didn’t bother me either. Not a dud track on here and I just love that intro to Drop Dead Legs when the drums kick in and Roth takes over. Killer stuff Your right though as 1984 ruled well back in 1984 and even in 2022 it still stands the test of time!
    Great writeup

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great album and “Hot for Teacher” is my all time second favourite Van Halen song. Whenever I hear “Drop Dead Legs,” I think about the episode of Family Guy where Stewie and Brian travel to an alternate world where Meg is beautiful. I watch too much Family Guy.

    Liked by 1 person

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