Jay Dreyer

4 minute read

Artist:Van Halen
Release Date:1991

How did this happen?

Funny you should ask! So, last weekend was Memorial Day weekend and I decided to have a little BBQ. I invited some friends and, as usual, the question was asked, “What can I bring?” And my answer, as usual, was, “Whatever! Beer!” So my friend said he’s going to bring pound cake, and then goes on to tell us that his wife’s pound cake is the best in the land. And that’s how we ended up here.

Go ahead. Let’s hear it.

So about the song…

Ahh…Van Halen. Everyone has some kind of musical progression in their lives. You start out loving one band, then another comes along, then another. You can look back and chart your life to when band A was tops, then band B, then singer C, etc. At least I can. I get into deep band-related ruts. But I don’t think I’m alone in this and I don’t really think it’s a rut.

So for me, my progression, at least into college, was Duran Duran (3rd-6th grade), Van Halen (6th-12th grade), and R.E.M. (9th-well past college). Sure, there were other bands I loved mixed in there, but these were the bands where I would say, “This is who I like and screw you if you don’t!” Anyone that’s a music fan has their own list.

Anyway, Van Halen. I loved Van Halen. And I was really conflicted when David Lee Roth left. It was like breaking up with a girlfriend, but I didn’t have a girlfriend then, so whatever. But suddenly the band you loved lost their lead singer, and some new dude that wore awful red or yellow outfits with velcro all over them was going to take over and, man, I wasn’t sure about this. But then people start taking sides and I decided to take the Van Halen side, because, dammit, the two people named Van Halen were still involved.

And you know what? I loved it! When 5150 came out, I actually wore out two cassette tapes of it. Before it was released I used to pester the rock station in Flint, MI almost daily to ask them when it was coming out. This was obviously pre-internet. My info was obtained by months old copies of Rolling Stone magazine. NOT RELIABLE.

Over time, my love faded. OU812 was pretty good, but it was no 5150. But still, ok. And then For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (hat tip to Joe Nagy, who was visiting me in Texas when this came out and figured out what the title meant. Again, no internet!) came out. I was excited about it, but I was definitely moving more in the alternative music world direction, but I still had hope. And it was…ok. “Poundcake” was the first single, and it was fine. And here we are.

So, what to say about “Poundcake”? Well how about Eddie Van Halen opening up the song with a freakin’ drill??? That’s still pretty awesome. Cooler yet is that he painted the drill in the same manner as his Frankenstrat! If you don’t know what the Frankenstrat is, that’s the name of his legendary red, white and black guitar. And it is AWESOME. Also, that’s not just any drill, it’s a Makita!

As for the video. Meh. There’s the band. There’s scantily clad ladies. There’s a lady who appears to be going to some kind of audition to become a scantily clad lady in future Van Halen videos. For some reason there’s another lady that has a drill with a really big drill bit (why??? hehe) that starts drilling holes in the door that the auditioning lady is peeking through. She is unharmed, but frightened, and leaves. This was, for me, the end of these videos. Nirvana came out in the time it took for me to graduate high school and start college, and this stuff pretty much disappeared.

Also, there’s the little girl at the beginning of the video with the “sugar and spice” thing. What’s that about? I still don’t know. Wikipedia had no good answers, either. Just to creep me out? Mission accomplished!

For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge was my last Van Halen album. I never even gave Balance (1995) a listen. Then Sammy was canned/quit shortly thereafter and VH went through a series of shitty fill-ins until they finally went back with Diamond Dave. For me, I’ll stick with the original stuff, up through 5150. That’s my happy Van Halen place.

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