Review Summary: David Lee Roth is....David Lee Roth. Which is generally a very good thing, even if the schtick wears thin in places. Deceptive opening tracks mask the fact that Roth will never truly change.3 of 3 thought this review was well written
1991-2 was the period when many of the 80s rock giants released their final successful albums before the mainstream abandoned them. Roth's ego would never let him give up, though you might guess change was in the air from this release. On the opening track, you can tell Roth has mellowed. This realisation comes gradually – a “mellow” David Lee Roth is still as flamboyant and loud as the rest of the pop metal scene of the day.
Indeed this sounds more like a Roth solo release than any of his previous work. Aside from the vocals, everything’s lower in the mix. Roth still had quality players in his band, but they weren’t as famous as collaborators past – they were less of a selling point. That’s the first thing that stands out here. Obviously there are still guitar solos, but the music is more synthesisers led than he has ever been before.
All this rather neuters the music – which is a shame, the songwriting is as top notch as Roth ever achieved. It’s all there still, it just takes a more care to notice. Second track “Shoot It” still lacks the guitar pyrotechnics that dominated Roth’s work with Eddie Van Halen and Steve Vai, but it’s an improvement – Roth sounds slightly more animated, and the huge horn section gives the music the large sound Roth needs to compete with. The transition from trying to be hip to slipping back into his comfort zone concludes with “Lady Luck” – a song which is vintage Roth with complimentary ridiculous solos from lead guitarist Jason Becker. From then on in, this album provides the standard David Lee Roth formula throughout.
The lyrics on A Little Ain’t Enough are the most impossible to understand Roth had uttered yet. Metaphors galore, it’s a confusing mess and hard to keep track of. Fortunately, Roth’s carefully honed persona has always been his selling point. His words carry the standard level of confidence, regardless of there being any sense to them.
All the key moments of a Roth album follow in the mid section of the album. “Tell the Truth” is one of those pop ballads that were the highlight of his previous two solo albums – Roth in rich, earthy voice, guitarist set to blues rampage. “Baby’s On Fire” the heavier riffing, more metal tune while “40 Below” is a stripped-back foot stomper in the style of classic Van Halen.
“Sensible Shoes” is a fairly standard R&B number, but the addition of harmonica and a particularly earthy vocal from Dave makes it stand out. A nice little experiment, with some honest sounding lyrics, the songwriting is more generic than the unusual performance however. Unfortunately, the final four tracks are complete re-treads of the album’s mid section. It’s a shame, as a listener you’re worn out at this point and want something a little different and interesting, and lurking among these four songs is “It’s Showtime” – the first time Roth truly recaptured the energy and youthful enthusiasm of Van Halen in his solo career. It’s a complete rip-off of “Hot for Teacher” from the chorus hook to the drum beat, but when it’s this good, who cares?
The album has its slow parts, but skip the poor tracks and an entire album’s worth of brilliant material – with equal measures of vintage or experimental sounding material – is here. Roth's star was not shining at its brightest, but in 1991, no one was gonna leave the party while Roth was still there - neither should you.