TMS Reviews the classics – Van Halen – Diver Down


I have never looked forward to an album release more than Van Halen’s Diver Down. After the slightly more, dare I say, mature album, Fair Warning, I expected a heavier sounding release. I mean think about it, as that album ends you have this short, little teaser song “One Foot out the Door”. As Eddie is doing some amazing shredding it just fades out (to everyone’s dismay). I’m thinking wow that’s a taste of what’s coming next! I couldn’t have been more wrong.

So what we got was Diver Down with its 12 tracks. The entire album times out at 31:26 minutes. It featured hit cover songs "(Oh) Pretty Woman", "Dancing in the Streets", “Happy Trails”, "Where Have All the Good Times Gone", and the worst song yet "Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)". That song was written in 1924! Seriously?

I can’t believe the covers that were chosen to be on a frickin’ Van Halen album! Why didn’t they put a cover song (or two) that represented their party band life style like “Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers”.  They played it back in their club days and elevated it. They even played it during Diver Down shows. Insert ZZ Top take out “Big Bad Bill”. Personally I feel one cover on an album is fine but I don’t want to feel cheated. Think about it. How many minutes are remaining for Van Halen material?

Now let’s get positive. The real stand out gems are “Full Bug” and “Little Guitars”. It’s classic Van Halen.  EXCELLENT! Those 2 songs saved this album from being destroyed, they’re that good. So what’s left? The few remaining Van Halen originals, "Hang 'Em High" and “Secrets” were decent songs but left me a bit bored vocally, although Eddie still had some great riffs. "Cathedral" is a short instrumental, but counted as a VH song.  The same goes for the other instrumental "Intruder". It’s basically a short intro (1:39) to “Pretty Woman”. Now that had the heavy sound I was looking for but only for a brief moment. That feeling of being cheated is still in the pit of my stomach. I almost want to call these songs filler.

So when I finished listening to DIVER DOWN for the first time all I can say is THAT I have never been more disappointed about any release in my entire life. The first 4 Van Halen albums were masterpieces and at least I still have them to listen to.