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Van Halen, ‘Tattoo’ – Song Review

Van Halen
Kevin Mazur, Wire Image

It’s been 28 years since Van Halen released an album with David Lee Roth at the vocal helm, and ‘Tattoo’ is the first single from VH and DLR’s reunion album, ‘A Different Kind of Truth,’ due out Feb. 7. It’s worth a mention that this is not the first new VH song with DLR singing since 1984, as Diamond Dave laid down his voice on ‘Me Wise Magic’ in 1996 for the ‘Greatest Hits’ set and that song was a No. 1 radio hit.

But fastforward 16 years and we’ve got ourselves a fresh new ‘Tattoo’ to admire. The verdict? It sounds like vintage Van Halen and thanks to the chorus, it will leave in imprint on your brain much like a tatt on your skin.

‘Tattoo’ sounds like Van Halen circa 1982, give or take a few years. It kicks off with a bluesy, opening riff and you just know it’s Eddie Van Halen. His tone has remained a constant throughout the years and we wouldn’t expect anything less. Diamond Dave is a little raspier, but it’s not a jarring difference or change. It’s just a fact of aging and all that singing and talking he does, giving his voicebox a workout.

But the big question any Van Halen fan worth his or her salt had pertained to those harmonies that were often handled by ex-bassist Michael Anthony — Sammy Hagar got him in the divorce. Those harmonies were as much a Van Halen signature as Diamond Dave’s animated leg kicks and Eddie’s riffery. Well, in this song, those harmonies are there. The chorus is also mega hooky, as they sing “Tat-too, tat-too” and DLR coos about a sexy dragon tattoo.

Despite the overall classic nature of the sound, it’s not like you are stepping into a time warp, 100 percent. It’s just an older and wiser Van Halen, aged like a fine wine.

We applaud them for keeping up with the times, and making relevant rock. Subject-wise, tatts are more popular now than during their first go round, and they’ve changed with the times and appeal to a younger audience by writing a song about ink. There’s been no dilution of the players’ ability to rock out recklessly, either.

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