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Review: Van Halen New Song 'Tattoo'

Van Halen just released "Tattoo," the first single to their upcoming album A Different Kind of Truth. It's the first Van Halen single with David Lee Roth on vocals in 27 years.

"Tattoo" sounds exactly like Van Halen -- there's no disputing that classic guitar tone. And once Diamond Dave opens his mouth, you know exactly what you're going to get. After a couple of listens, I decided that "Tattoo" is a catchy song but something is missing. Sure, there's the nonsensical lyrics that are part of Roth's signature and there's an awesome (I mean REALLY awesome) guitar solo, but isn't that all standard for VH? I can't quite put my finger on what is missing but I'm pretty sure it's energy. Or enthusiasm. But it's something and I bet I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Now, I know a lot of you flipped out with glee on first listen and that's great. Instead of attacking me for my opinion, educate me on why "Tattoo" is fantastic.

Reader Comments (36)

What's missing?? That is obvious - Michael Anthony!!
January 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjoe456
I like the song (but don't love it). Musically and vocally, it's spot-on. I hate the lyrics though, and actually think the guitar solo is below average for EVH (keeping in mind, that's still above average for most guitarists).

I have high expectations for the new album. I fear that I may be expecting too much, but VH brings hope to the hard rock world.
January 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJT
It's not a bad song I just don't think it should have been the first single. They needed to come out with a modern version of Panama to kick this thing off right!
January 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterevilmike
Joe said it... What's missing? Everything Michael Anthony contributed to the band: Energy, competent bass line, (sorry, but Wolf is no match for Michael, Wolf wouldn't know a walking bass line if it jumped up & bit him), and there is no replacing Mikey's background vocals.

This song is a major letdown. And I already had lowered expectations.
January 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAce Steele
I thought it was very mellow and I agree...poor choice for first release. I did, however, like the guitar solo. It is also very cool hear Roth's voice again with his old band. can you imagine if they would have been kicking out albums for all these yrs. man...we have been missing out. This new album will rock, regardless.
January 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrian L
Had medium-high hopes, but I dislike this song more every time I listen to it. Why? It's not fun. It does not put me in a better mood, does not make me wanna have a good time.

I feel bad about picking on Wolfie, but what everyone says is true - he is not an adequate replacement for Anthony. In this video, he appears as if he should be playing 3 sets a night at the local truck stop bar instead of in one of the best bands of all time. His uncle, Alex, appears as if he is playing with a soft jazz combo at the all you can eat restaurant at the mall.

Overall, this song (BUT ESPECIALLY THE CHORUS) sounds to me as if it is a Chris Kattan-era SNL parody.
January 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris K
I read this post and then searched for the song. Not sure what the compaints are about, sounds like Van Halen to me. I'm a tuff critic with our beloved glam, hard rock and metal music cuz I luv it so much but this isn't bad at all. Not great mind you but above decent. Lyrics are typical DLR, definitely catchy, guitar better than average. Look Michael is out, Wolfie is in....accept it or not its the way it is. My opinion, for whatever its worth, is that I like it and only expect more in the future.
January 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJAT
Huge VH fan here...this new release just broke my heart. God-Awful. Indecipherable lyrics, mushy overall mix, plodding no-energy rhythm, no hooks whatsoever on weak excuse for chorus. I dont know to what extent Michael contributed to song creation, but his absence is notable on the finished product...
January 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJon Anthony
This is a lackluster effort on their part at best. It features horrible lyrics, the bass has no punch, the guitar solo is uninspired and the vocals were flat. And lastly, I'm tired of "goofy" Dave.
January 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTodd M
Ok whats missing, hmmm passion, and everything jon anthony said above, its lazy and boring, and I love m anthony great guy, great backing vox but cmon man he aint geddy lee or billy sheean, hes an average bass player, honestly gave up on vh years ago, how they treted mike and sammy. eddie is brilliant but probably biggest douche in rock n roll, and dave cant sing a lick hang it up boys!!
January 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterborn2run81
Hmm, Its solid, but it sounds like just an album track not really a single. Still, Anything is bette then nothing and I wil still be getting this album and probably liking it. Anything is better then their last release with Cherone.
January 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShadow
Tattoo - anyone in VH have any - maybe one or two? What's the point of the song. I like the song other than the lyrics and the goofy opening "Tattoo Tattoo". As Todd says, let's get rockstar Dave back and scratch the goofy face and fem-bot moves, scarves, etc - ENOUGH. (If I never saw Dave til this video I'd hardly believe he's the guy that had paternity insurance at one point) Hopefully, better stuff coming and this was simply a teaser. I'll keep up hope. I'll still listen to Can't Get This Stuff No More until I hear better 'stuff'.
January 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMEWIZEMGIC
I too have mixed emotions about this song. overall, it sounds like a phoned-in performance. also, I hate the production. It

sounds almost like a pre released version where the final mix hasn't happened yet. Alex really needs to drop that abysmal

muffled snare sound he's been using in the studio since the early 90s. The chorus is pretty weak, although I absolutely love

the lyric leading up to it, "housewife to bombshell in the time it took to get that new tattoo." I am holding out hope that the rest of the album will be better, but this song did very little to get me excited. frankly, just knowing that "she's the Woman" is finally getting a proper release is more exciting to me than this single.
January 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBob
Musically, I think it's strong - EVH remains one of the world's best guitarists, Alex's patented drum sound is there, and I think the bass is good enough. But it's missing the DLR swagger. Roth has never (and I'm sure he would say this himself) been a terrific singer, but he dripped swagger & sex when he sang, and that made classic VH songs what they are.

But there's just no swagger in this song - it's just goofy, smiley Dave singing. And rather poorly at that.

Also, what's with all the complaints here about the lyrics? What was everyone expecting? It's not like old Van Halen songs are known for their intelligent lyrics or story telling - most of their classics are juvenile riffs on girls, cars, partying, and occasionally, jumping. Which, by the way, is exactly what I want when I listen to Van Halen.
January 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbryon
Wow... Call me the LCD..

I like it!! I closed my eys and what I hear is a laid back groove with Dave's classic voice over Eddies monster guitar tone...

Reminds me of and the cradle will rock...

I think I actually understand the lyrics I guess I am wired wrong..
January 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShawn
wow.......hope they skip this one on the sucks
January 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermetalman17
Curious as to where "Tattoo" came from?
Check out this old (& by old, I mean pre-1st album) Van Halen song, "DOWN IN FLAMES". See if you hear the similarities.

With this, "She's The Woman" & "Bullethead" all being old leftovers from the club days, it tells me than what's passing for Van Halen in 2012 is pumping a dry well in the songwriting department. I'm gonna pass.

VH '77 "Bullethead" -
January 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAce Steele
Well, first off I like the "new" track, it has groove, it has Van Halen written all over it from the DLR cheesy lyrics to the huge guitar tone of EVH. Have you noticed that EVH is doing all the backing vocals?

I personally don't mind that Eddie and David decided to release some old songs that had never been released in the past. It's part of the van halen history and I don't think that tracks were left-offs from any recording session since they used some on tour. Secondly I think that some fans will never be satisfied. If VH had decided to release brand new songs many would complain that the new material could not be compared with the band's glorydays. I think they played it safe and decided that the fans would be satisfied with genuine Van Halen material from the golden era.

As to the whole attitude, let's face it they are pushing 60 and minus the drugs and the alcohol being happy all the time is really tough. And come to think of it there is not one band that has sobered up and managed to keep the atitude of the past.

Personally I think that each band needs an excuse to do a world tour. This excuse is either new material or a farewell tour. And I don't think that anyone of us would like to see Van Halen calling it quits. Twisted sister tried to be honest to the fans and they never released a new album because they knew it would be sub par and they still toured for no reason and I don't think that it worked for them.

I think that it is awesome that we have the chance to become witnesses of a new Van Halen release with DLR on vocals because let's face it everyone of us wanted to see it happen. In addition it's very good to see Eddie all cleaned up and ready to roll because he has so much more to offer to us as fans and to us as musicians. I am pretty sure he still has many aces up his sleeve. So let's be thankful that Van Halen have decided to make a new start.

As for Michael Anthony, I don't miss him. Fans were always complaining what a goofball DLR was but I think MA was a close second. As for his contribution I think it's rather questionable. He's a friggin' bass player, his job is quite simple and MA was never a Billy Sheehan. Wolfgang does a good job and I am not being a fanboy here his job is simple and he is nailing it. MA is being missed as part of the history of VH nothing more and nothing less.

I apologize for the lengthy post but I think I had to share with everyone my thoughts.
January 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGEOKASS
Is it great? Nah. Is it awful? nope. And therein lies the problem. They coasted. Song definitely has a cool groove,but that's about all. As for the guitar solo? C'mon Ed'reach down a little deeper my man. You were doing all of these little tricks in 1980.....
January 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGary
P.S. I still stick to my prediction that the Dave/Eddie "relationship" explodes by years end.2 ego's that big ain't gonna coexist for long, especially if the album is sucessful and Dave starts "feeling his oates" again.
January 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGary

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