Van Halen
Diver Down


3.5
great

Review

by Daniel Dias USER (81 Reviews)
July 27th, 2014 | 25 replies


Release Date: 1982 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Diver Down is a bit of an underrated album for Van Halen, but it still makes up for a very interesting and entertaining listen.

1981 was a year of change for Van Halen's musical direction. Their fourth studio album, Fair Warning, marked a change in their style. It was more of a dark and gritty album, for sure, almost abandoning completely the party style of the band's previous albums. Eddie's desire to explore new directions, musically, clashed with Dave's wish to maintain Van Halen's party band status. The increasing tensions between the members of the band led to a very special release for the band in Fair Warning. It was more raw and aggressive than anything the band had ever done before. After some mixed commercial and critical reception, the band came to the conclusion that they had to lighten things up a little bit for their next release, after such an intense and aggressive album. After coming to that conclusion, came Diver Down, definitely quite a controversial album for Van Halen, but ultimately a very special one too.

Diver Down is made up of 12 songs. Out of those 12 songs, 5 of them are covers and 3 of them are introductory tracks. That's what makes this album such a controversial release in Van Halen's career. However, Diver Down isn't a bad album at all, it's actually a very interesting output that contains a lot of great highlights and only suffers from some lack of consistency and lack of original material. What's great about Diver Down is that it recaptures the band's feelgood sound that went somewhat absent in Fair Warning. As interesting as it would've been to see how the band could improve upon Fair Warning's very strong ideas, it was just as nice to see how they got back to their party sound, so characteristic of their first two albums, in Diver Down.

It's true that Diver Down is a bit of an underrated album for Van Halen and it sometimes receives a lot more hate among fans than it deserved, but it's by no means an album without flaws. It starts off with a great opener, Kinks' cover of Where Have All The Good Times Gone!, that shows Van Halen going back to their more laidback and sleazy sound. Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony stand out the most, putting out a great performance, and Dave gives a fine vocal delivery, while Eddie chooses to act as more of a rhythm player. The song contains a nice hook and is one of Diver Down's highlights. Another great highlight is Little Guitars. After an awesome flamenco-style intro, Little Guitars develops into an amazing track, that contains several memorable and catchy moments (some great hooks and Eddie's sweet guitar work, for instance), resembling Van Halen's earlier material quite well. Unfortunately, despite these highlights, the album seems to lack in consistency and it sometimes doesn't live up to its potential.

Hang 'Em High, for instance, is a track that gets very repetitive after a while and definitely doesn't sound as good or interesting as other tracks in Diver Down. Intruder, that serves as an introductory track to Roy Orbison's cover of (Oh) Pretty Woman, is a very strange track that contains a strong use of synthesizers, and while it does sound minimally interesting, it comes out as more of a filler track. The same can't be said about Cathedral, though. A short instrumental that comes before Secrets, it's a very special track. Most people think Eddie's playing an organ on this one, but he's actually playing a guitar, using a lot of delay to make its sound similar to a church organ's. It's not an instrumental as wacky and crazy as Eruption and Spanish Fly, but it shows a very innovative use of a guitar and it's a great interlude to Secrets, that also stands out as a very nice track. It's a very calm number, that differs from anything they had ever done before, featuring some amazing instrumentation and great lyrics penned by Dave.

Most of Diver Down's tracks see Van Halen experimenting with their sound, in a way they hadn't before, and the final result is almost always great. The Full Bug, for instance, features a use of Dave's harmonica, an instrument that hadn't been used by them before. It features a nice hook, but the song's not very special. Big Bad Bill features a special guest in Jan Van Halen, Alex and Eddie's father, playing a clarinet. It's a very interesting and entertaining song, that seems pulled out of the 1940's. Dancing In The Street is a return to Van Halen's bar days, featuring Eddie's wacky and groovy guitar riff and a standout performance by Dave. Lastly, there's the hilarious closer Happy Trails, that shows all four members of the band solely singing an old commercial jingle. It's a very funny closer, and not meant to be taken seriously in any way.

From an overall point of view, Diver Down remains a bit of an underrated and misunderstood album. Sure, it's not an album as good as Van Halen's previous outputs, but it is certainly an interesting enough effort by a band who was quickly becoming one of rock's biggest bands in the 1980's. It receives more hate among fans and critics than it deserves, probably due to the lack of original material, but it's certainly an interesting album to listen to all the way through. Even having been a commercial success, fueled by the hit single (Oh) Pretty Woman, the band didn't seem totally satisfied with the final product. So, they took some time off after touring. That's when Eddie built his own studio in his backyard and wrote a lof of material for Van Halen's next album, 1984.



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user ratings (298)
Chart.
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
Kevin (3)
Overall, this album is pretty average. It's full of good songs, but it also carries a lot of average...


Comments:Add a Comment 
danielcardoso
July 27th 2014


3331 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

My reviews for Van Halen's discography continue. Diver Down is a really fun album but it sometimes gets some hate. It's not as good as the band's previous albums, but it's still quite an interesting album to listen to. As for the review, feel free to point out any errors I might've missed and give me your feedback, it's much appreciated.

BMDrummer
July 27th 2014


12599 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Never liked this one much at all, good review though

Digging: Elemantra - You Feel Bad About You

danielcardoso
July 27th 2014


3331 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks Drummer. As for the album, I guess you can tell from my review that I enjoy it, but I can understand why people may have trouble enjoying it, given the lack of original stuff.

BMDrummer
July 27th 2014


12599 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

This is the point where Van Halen kinda lose me tbh, not too big on 1984 either

danielcardoso
July 27th 2014


3331 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Really? I personally love 1984, but maybe part of me loving it so much is because I grew up listening to it over and over again. But, considering nostalgia or not, it has a lot of awesome songs, Panama, Hot for Teacher and House Of Pain, for instance. What is it about 1984 that you don't like?

BMDrummer
July 27th 2014


12599 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Yeah it has some good songs on it, just found it to be a bit inconsistent is all. Still good though, I have it as a 3.5 actually

LepreCon
July 27th 2014


4671 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

All their albums with DLR are cool, they lost all their charm without him.

beefshoes
July 27th 2014


5579 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Little Guitars is probably my favourite from this album.

Dancing in the Street is also a highlight.

dannyboy89
July 27th 2014


13154 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Sup

beefshoes
July 27th 2014


5579 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sup? I've not seen you on in awhile danny.

danielcardoso
July 27th 2014


3331 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Drummer, I understand your point, but from having listened to it so much, I grew very fond of it.



LepreCon, couldn't agree more. Sammy had some average to good stuff, but he could never match Dave's days with VH.



Beefshoes, that's my favorite too, alongside Cathedral and Secrets.

danielcardoso
July 27th 2014


3331 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sup danny, how's everything going for you?

dannyboy89
July 27th 2014


13154 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Well, I finished watching a movie today.

facupm
July 27th 2014


9878 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i have a cassette of this at home which belonged to my dad



cool album but nothing special tbh

beefshoes
July 27th 2014


5579 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Was it a Dirty Movie?

Awesome dig facupum.

danielcardoso
July 27th 2014


3331 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Speaking of which, I watched The Sting today. It's awesome.



Facupm, yeah it's nothing special but it has some cool songs. Awesome dig indeed.

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2014


5516 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Little Guitars rocks

Digging: Tame Impala - Currents

dannyboy89
July 28th 2014


13154 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

@beef: well, 'twas Out of Africa, dunno if that qualifies as a dirty movie...



After that I saw Jerry Maguire.

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2014


16389 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

was their last decent record, nice review

danielcardoso
July 28th 2014


3331 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Arcade, yeah it's a damn fun track and it's got a lot of memorable parts.

Menawati, thanks for the feedback, but what about 1984?



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