DAVID LEE ROTH / DLR BAND: DLR Band (1998 wawazat!!)
In 1998, David Lee Roth was angry. He’d been conned by Van Halen into appearing on the MTV awards with them to promote their new greatest hits, and implying that Dave was back. Dave was not back. Van Halen released the derided Van Halen III with Gary Cherone earlier in ’98, while Dave sat back waiting to unleash the DLR Band.
The DLR Band consisted of Dave himself on vocals, John 5 (yes, the John 5) and Terry Kilgore on guitar, and Ray Luzier on drums. Of course, today John 5 is well known for his work with Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie, and Ray Luzier is in Korn. Terry Kilgore had been working with Dave since 1994’s Your Filthy Little Mouth. Cover art was simple, a picture of Bettie Page over an American flag and no real indication that this was David Lee Roth. A lot of stores didn’t know either, and filed it under “DLR Band” instead of Roth, guaranteeing lack of sales.
So this was one smokin’ band, and with John 5 on board, a hot guitarist to rival the flaming fingers of St. Eddie. John 5 sounds to me like a cross between Van Halen, Steve Stevens and Tom Morello. For the bluesier sounds on the album, Terry Kilgore’s strat aptly filled the gaps. And that basically sums up the album. It goes from bluesier grooves such as “Lose The Dress (Keep The Shoes)” to space-age fast-paced VH shuffles like “Slam Dunk!” Additional guitar and writing is supplied by Mike Hartman.
Dave’s not as poetic on the lyrics this time, with “Counter-Blast” being particularly bad. I can’t think of one good song about the internet, and this is no exception. “I’m gonna fax you into the atom age”? “Your page or mine”? Sorry Dave. Stick with what you know. Hot cars, girls, a drink and some philosophy of life.
Highlights for me are many. On the faster, space-age side are “Slam Dunk!”, “Relentless”, and the aforementioned “Counter-Blast” which is great musically. On the groovier, sleezier side are “Wa Wa Zat!!”, “Weekend With The Babysitter”, and “Lose The Dress (Keep The Shoes)”. The album ends with “Black Sand”, an atmospheric sunset-stained journey. But really, there are no lowlights on this album of strong rock songs. No ballads.
The sound of the album is crisp and tight, recorded in just 10 days like the Van Halen albums of old. No gloss, no flourishes, no flashy production except in John 5’s guitars. Where this album differs most from Van Halen classics is Dave’s voice. On the old albums, Dave could hide his voice’s weaknesses behind Mike and Ed’s backing vocals. Here, Dave’s voice is naked, sometimes flat, sometimes sharp, sometimes wheezing.
Having said that, I still recommend DLR band to fans of Roth who love that attitude and hot guitar. However, if you’re expecting the man to sing like he’s 25 again, best to stick to the old albums.