Recently described in The Los Angeles Times as “a sort of collaboration with their past,” Van Halen’s first album with David Lee Roth in 28 years is destined to remind enthusiasts about the days of glory engendered by the band’s first six albums; understandable since Roth has acknowledged that much of the material used for A Different Kind of Truth originated from collaborations that occurred “literally, in 1975, 1976 and 1977.”
Whereas revisiting the past is usually a sign of regression, perhaps nothing will be more applauded this time around by the devotees of a band which, not that long ago, was deemed inconsequential, if not finished altogether. If Van Halen III didn’t feel like their demise was imminent, then the active roster’s total absence for their own induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame was surely the band’s death knell — or so it seemed.
Few bands have a more impassioned fan base. Consequently, eagerness for another album never fully waned, as disappointment was always coupled with hopeful expectation for a return to form. And now it seems that fans’ patience has been recompensed at last. Indeed pure Rock, for lack of a better description, is Van Halen’s forte. They raised the bar repeatedly, so perhaps we shouldn’t be altogether surprised by possibly the only band capable of composing such a fun, almost innocent, feel-good classic about a tawdry stripper (“Panama”).
Kids today need to be reminded that Rock isn’t a meager genre’ reserved for aging hipsters desperately clinging to their youth. Most of the newer breed isn’t up to snuff, but the elder statesmen (alongside AC/DC, Metallica, etc.) have answered the call yet again. And now we’re given an album that provides the best of both worlds: DLR’s forestalled return in conjunction with a showcase for Eddie’s re-ascendance to his rightful place on the shredders throne.
A Different Kind of Truth may not be Van Halen’s all-time greatest effort, but the release is nevertheless a far cry from the frustration to which fans had become entirely too accustomed. Welcome back guys. You have been missed.