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“1984” 33rd Anniversary

January 9th is the 33rd anniversary of the release of Van Halen’s “1984”.  I’ll never forget the first time I heard “Jump”.  It was unusually “poppy” for the band, but then I couldn’t get it out of my head.  Then came “I’ll Wait”, “Panama”, and “Hot For Teacher”.  “1984” became one of my favorite all-time albums and remains so til this day.  But a lot of critics said that Van Halen had “sold out”; that they had sacrificed their rock bona fides on the altar of commerce.  They said the same thing less than a year earlier when The Tubes released “Inside/Outside” which contained the huge hit “She’s A Beauty” featuring contributions from seasoned and technically proficient musicians. The Tubes were the ultimate avant garde band and now they were recording with members of Chicago and Toto?  Horrors!  And it continues: Metallica still has critics to this day who say that their landmark Black album was a sell-out.  Green Day fans thought that “Dookie” was wimpy, and that “American Idiot” was too artistic.

I’ll never forget something Fee Waybill, the lead singer of The Tubes, said in an interview years ago:  “It’s easy to be obscure, but it’s hard to have a hit.”  And that’s what it boils down to.  As much work as it takes to keep a band going, you don’t do it just to suffer for your art; you want to be a rock star!  Cause isn’t that where all the fun is?




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