REVIEW: David Lee Roth – DLR Band (1998)

DLR BAND_0001

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.

IMG_00001056Dave’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.

4/5 stars

49 comments

  1. Great review, Mike!
    My husband is a big DLR fan (okay I like him too). He still sez “WA WA ZAT?” all the time. I’m more familiar with “…goin’ crazy…from the heat…!” or “I’m dyin’ french fryin’! Hot dog and a shake!” So cheesy, but I dig it.

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    1. Take a bite of double fries, swear to god make you late for the dance!

      Your husband will be pleased to know that this is the first part of a two-parter. In a few days I’ll be reviewing Dave’s next album, called Diamond Dave…

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  2. Yep,this is a pretty good bounce back for DLR after the YFLM album. I bought this and dug it and kinda still do. Your review basically sums up on how I feel about it as well.
    I remember at the time of this release though that there was a rumour floating around that he was thinking about putting the Eat Em…band back together…of course it never came to be …but this was a good record of course goof ball lyrics but it was good to hear some loud guitar!

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    1. Keep in mind I liked YFLM as well, but I still consider it a bounce-back in terms of him getting back to hiscore sound.

      I’d kill to see an Eat ‘Em reunion. I’m Vai would be up for it once his schedule clears up in about 2018. LOL! But I think Dave will be in Van Halen for good now.

      Incidentally a new DLR hits comp is coming,with DVD. It’s a must, for the DVD portion.

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      1. I dug YFLM ,the first three tracks get the album off an running but than after Big Train the album kinda for me goes a little off the tracks …it’s still good but I find that album half killer /half filler..like Dave is trying to find sumthin to catch on to the public masses whereas he must have wanted to puke whenever Halen put out music and it shot to the top of the charts….me and my friends would talk about that and we came up with the fact at the time that Dave should have called his next release LOSING MY SHIT!
        Ha

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        1. In my opinion Mr. Deke, I think his Diamond Dave album is his true Losing My Shit! And that’s what I’m reviewing next but stay tuned.

          However before that happens, I believe I promised you some Sven Gali, didn’t I? :)

          Like I said, stay tuned!

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        1. The Best is very very good. I have that too. The other gimmick with the new CD is that it has the entire Crazy From the Heat EP. I believe The Best missed one or two songs.

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        2. I read that too. Are those tracks in order on the CD or is it all jumbled up like on The Best. I have Eat ‘Em, Skyscraper and The Best but that’s all. I keep picking up vinyl copies of the EP but I think the comp will be a better buy.

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    1. HMO ,us should check out the first 3 Roth solo albums(Eat Em,Skyscraper,A Little Ain’t Enough)….there’s some gems on these that are buried on these albums like Hina from Skyscraper,Big Trouble from Eat Em,Hammerhead Shark/Drop In the Bucket from ALAE)
      Check em out …..

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        1. GREAT tune.

          Dave really had a golden solo era where he could seemingly do no wrong. A Little Ain’t Enough was pretty good but could have used some trimming. Still, Jason Becker, Drop in the Bucket…amazing stuff. It’s Showtime!

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        2. GREAT tune.

          Dave really had a golden solo era where he could seemingly do no wrong. A Little Ain’t Enough was pretty good but could have used some trimming. Still, Jason Becker, Drop in the Bucket…amazing stuff. It’s Showtime!

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        3. If u search around on You Tube there’s some Eat Em demos posted with different lyrics for Goin Crazy and Big Trouble,I don’t know if there still there but kinda interesting…..

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        4. Shoot It has to be the greatest song on ALAE, in my opinion. But I guess the whole record is kinda underrated.

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  3. Yep at the time I went out and bought a live Talas album called Sink Your Teeth Into That cuz of Sheehan…
    Man,that Eat Em tour was good…Dave and that band were on fire….99 Tons of Fun Tour he called it….top notch band/album/live show……
    Too bad the dynamics changed in 88……

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    1. Actually I think the live album is called Live Speed on Ice?

      I also have a great reunion album of theirs, live, called If We Only Knew Then. They cover Max Webster and King Crimson on that one.

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  4. Yeah man that’s it..good one……geez where did I come up with that title??? Better make sure I know what I’m dumping into my coffee first thing in the morning!

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  5. Yeap. Great album. Bought it when I didn’t have much money but I heard Slam Dunk on the radio and had to have it. Smoked VH3’s ass! Didn’t know the about the MTV con. I was wondering what was going on back then. Is he in or is he out!?! Looking forward to Pt2!

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    1. Thanks! Hope you like it when we get there.

      I was disappointed this album was released independently on a tiny label with little publicity. Imagine if DLR put out an album today with John 5 on guitar. That would be a much better deal. It’s such a shame it didn’t sell. Slam Dunk was pretty much exactly what most fans wanted to hear DLR do!

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  6. This is the first time I’ve ever heard it said that Diamond Dave was ever poetic. My favorite part of his vocals was always the middle parts where he just talked. ‘I can barely see the road. I got my pencil.’

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  7. This album kinda confuses me a bit. Everytime I listen to it, I think it’s great. But everytime I take the CD out of the player I have forgotten every single song. I dunno if that makes the songs forgettable or if I’m just enjoying listening to the album for the first time every time I listen to it. But as you said, smokin’ band and I think Kilgore is an underrated player.

    Talking of Kilgore, you mentioned Your Filthy Little Mouth and I remember the first time I heard that album – I thought it sucked. But I still have have it and it has grown on me shitloads since then. It’s a bit more serious than the Dave we all know and love, but the album do have its moments, quite a lot of them actually.

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    1. I love Filthy Little Mouth. I think it’s got quality to it, even though it’s all over the place. Dave proved he can do a lot of different styles and I think the country songs are the successful ones! I love the playing, everything,

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    2. Jon,that’s the perfect call on the DLR album….u listen to it ,get into it and once it’s out if your CD player you forget about it….
      Perfect summary man……

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  8. I remember seeing this in stores, but even I knoew it was Dave. I mean, DLR? Do YOU think anything else? No of course not. And in 1998 the internet may not have been what it is now, but there were still lots of magazines and TV and everything else to tel people what this was, there surely wasn’t an excuse. Anyway, hard to go wrong with the man himself, I might stroll over to the youtubes and see if I can stream it in full… (nope, but there’s a few tracks).

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    1. Try for Slam Dunk! It was a single.

      I remember the coverage of this album in printed media being very sparse. There was a brief interview I saw in one of the guitar mags. Like a one-pager. I don’t remember hearing about touring.

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  9. I seem to remember Howard Stern championing this album in a big way upon release, not sure if it was paid promotion, loyalty to DLR, or Stern just genuinely liking it.

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        1. Hey man, in lyrics there are no wrong answers. So for you I will now declare there is at least one good song about the internet!

          “Program the brain, not the heartbeat!”

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