DAVID LEE ROTH – Diamond Dave (2003 Magna Carta)
One can indeed judge a book by its cover. David Lee Roth is hands-on with every aspect of his product, be it a photo shoot, a recording session, or an interview. He must have known his Diamond Dave album was crap, so he made a terrible cover to match it. Check out the tan, that wig and them pants! (Also notice: furry walls!)
This album, following up another aborted Van Halen reunion and the surprisingly powerful album DLR Band, switches gears and shows Dave’s “multi-faceted side”. Sure, we all know Dave likes disco, jazz, blues, showtunes, and standards. It’s Dave doing what he did very successfully on Crazy From the Heat, and trying to do so again. To make an album of this stuff would be fine, but Diamond Dave lacks any sort of zap. At all. It’s just one “who cares” cover after another, a couple crappy originals, and a Van Halen tune.
Dave’s voice just doesn’t generate the heat it once did, and all of Diamond Dave suffers for it. The way Van Halen did A Different Kind of Truth used a lot of production on Dave. Here, Roth is a whimper, a wheeze, a breathless gasp at the greatness that once was. To listen to this album in one sitting is an exersize in stamina. I know because I’ve done it.
Positives: Instrumental moments on the Steve Miller cover “Shoo Bop”. The ace rhythm section of LoMenzo and Luzier are complimented by a guitarist named Brian Young who is shit-hot on this. Then Dave goes all dance-y on it…ugh. “She’s Looking Good” is old-school and well done.
The indigestible: The Doors’ “Soul Kitchen”. Nobody needs to cover the Doors; Dave makes them sound like Smash Mouth. Hendrix’ “If 6 Was 9” has too much of Dave’s boring talking voice, but not enough crooning. His cover of the otherwise excellent Beatles number “Tomorrow Never Knows” (which he actually had the audicity to rename “That Beatles Tune”!?) sucks all the life and innovation out of a great song, as he wheezes to the finish line. This is by far the worst song, even though he also covers “Let It All Hang Out”.
There is only one number here worth owning, which is his Las Vegas version of “Ice Cream Man”. He did this shortly after Your Filthy Little Mouth with Edgar Winter, Omar Hakim, Greg Phillinganes, and Nile Rodgers! According to Dave’s autobiography Crazy From the Heat, this was recorded in a live in a video shoot. The video was never released, but the audio finally was. It lives up to the hype if not the wait.
Decide what you are willing to pay for one or two songs, and buy accordingly.