Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy, aka the Joyful Gadfly! Musician, podcaster, writer, historian ... here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album is unique in some way. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Strummin' with the Devil: The Southern Side of Van Halen - A Tribute Featuring David Lee Roth


(No official website.)
Style: instrumental, bluegrass, 80's rock, country
Label: CMH
Year: 2006
Home: n/a

Members: David Lee Roth ~ vocals

Tony Trischka, Dennis Caplinger ~ banjo
Dudley Connell, Larry Cordle ~ guitar/vocals
Marshall Wilborn ~ acoustic bass/vocals
Dave McLaughlin ~ mandolin

John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band, Blue Highway, John Cowan Band, Mountain Heart, Iron Horse, David Grisman & Sons, Cornbread Red, Nashville Bluegrass Band ~ n/a

A quick Amazon search will find many hard rock/metal bands interpreted by bluegrass. Outside of classical, or maybe polka of which Wierd Al has the market cornered, one probably can't find two greater extremes & thus it only makes sense to try to bring them together. Having not heard the other bluegrass tributes, I can only say that this tribute to Van Halen is a pure delight for both rock & bluegrass fans. Many of the hits & a few lesser known tunes are included here with an array of respected bluegrass musicians & bands of the current scene. & every band shines, albeit those that stick most to the Van Halen arrangements tend to come out the weakest (i.e. "Jump", "Running With The Devil"). The best songs are the ones that bring something new to the songs, such as the highlight "Jamie's Cryin" which not just slows the song down but features a sad violin that might be more enjoyable than the original. "Dance The Night Away" is a slow romantic dance bringing the romance back to the song. "Ice Cream Man" & "Could This Be Magic?" sound as if they could have been written in the 1930's. The album advertises that it features former Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth, but this is a slight misnomer as Roth features only on the first two tracks with the John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band behind him. Most of the songs feature vocals, though the instrumentals "Eruption" & "Hot For Teacher" are great. "Hot For Teacher" has the most interesting opening, a bit experimental before going to the well known riff on mandolin & guitar with violin taking up the vocal line via the creative playing of mandolin king David Grisman. The major problem, for those of us not bluegrass fans, is that due to the acoustic nature & style of bluegrass music each band sounds largely similiar sans a few outings such as with Grisman. Though, on the other hand, tribute albums are often disjointed affairs with the differences in bands jarring the flow so this is also a positive. Other songs featured include: "I'll Wait", "Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love", "Feel Your Love Tonight", "Panama", "Unchained" & "& the Cradle Will Rock..."

(featured on the Roman Midnight Music CD Reviews & Interviews podcast: episode 3 "Pscyhobilly, Elvis Metal & Bluegrass", September 2010, click here to listen)


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