30 years ago today the original and best Van Halen lineup released its final album, the mega-selling and mega-enjoyable 1984. Many of the album’s hallmarks have since entered into cultural ubiquity, whether it’s “Jump” blaring at every sporting event in America or “Hot For Teacher” encapsulating and defining a fetish with its classic music video and barely disguised double entendre. Containing only a tight nine tracks, including a minute-long intro, it remains packed with id, swagger and dazzling performances, all of which would wane on the band’s subsequent releases following the departure of frontman David Lee Roth. Criticism targeted the increased prominence of synthesizers, which rankled Roth as much as it did some of the fans - so much so that the common understanding is that it was a contributing factor in his exit - yet the synth-driven propulsion of “I’ll Wait” is unmistakable and a clear album highlight.
So while your coworkers, classmates or family members might not appreciate your completely rational impulse to stand up and shout, “Look at all the people here tonight!” and jumpkick your computer through the wall, you can still enjoy this classic album and have a retort at the ready next time a rock band releases a bloated whale of a record: sometimes 33 minutes is all you need.
Read Stephen Thomas Erlewine’s five-star review.
If Roth really did hate the synthesizers, it’s difficult to tell from the way he sells this performance of “I’ll Wait.”
The legendary “Hot For Teacher” video. The intro to this song launched a million air drummers.
Chris Steffen wishes the main riff from "Unchained" would play every time he enters a room