According to guitar virtuoso John 5, on-again-off-again -- and at present on-again -- Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth has an entire album of material just sitting, gathering dust somewhere. He says it's as good as early Van Halen. So where is it?
WebProNews reported July 27 that David Lee Roth, who rejoined one of rock's most legendary line-ups a few years ago when he recorded new music and toured with his old band, Van Halen, actually has a solo album in the works. According to John 5, former lead guitarist for Marilyn Manson and, before that, a member of the David Lee Roth Band, says that the album is complete. He said he, David Lee Roth, and drummer Gregg Bissonette (who was also a member of the original David Lee Roth Band, which included such luminaries as Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan) laid down the tracks.
"[Dave and I] just made another record, and it’s, like, the ‘California Sessions’, [Dave] was calling it,” John 5 said in an interview on "One on One with Mitch Lafon." "And it’s 11 of the greatest songs you’ll ever hear, and it’s just me and Dave, and we had Gregg Bissonette play drums on it. And it’s unbelievable. There’s a song called 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow Bar & Grill.' And you know, just great, great songs. And hopefully sometime it’ll see the light of day. But he’s, of course, busy with Van Halen and all that stuff. But it’s an incredible record.”
The album was completed between a year and a year-and-a-half ago, John 5 admitted. That would coincide with completing his collaborative songwriting with Lynyrd Skynyrd on 2012's Last Of A Dyin' Breed. He's currently touring with Rob Zombie and has a new solo album, Careful With That Axe, dropping on August 12. A guitarist of eclectic styles (he's worked with k. d. lang, Scorpions, Halestorm, Judas Priest, Ricky Martin, Meat Loaf, Wilson Phillips, Night Ranger, John Wetton of Asia, and many others) who keeps busy, he has nothing but praise for Roth and the material they recorded.
“'Cause I always go over to his house and we write music and things like that," the guitar wizard recalled about his time with Roth. "It's a lot of fun. They're all original songs. I would just go over to his house during the day and write this music and then he would book the studio at night. So we would go into A&M Studios — Henson Studios, it's called now — and we'd record. And it's so great. I mean, it sounds like just Dave from that 'Van Halen I' or 'II' or 'Women And Children First' era, [in terms of his] singing [style], and it's incredible, man. It's really incredible. He loves it, too, so maybe it'll see the light of day sometime."
If it's as good as those early Van Halen albums he named, it would be a crime against music for it not to see the light of day.
So... what gives? The album is on hold, which means... what? The new Van Halen project is more important? The new solo album is in post-production and having release difficulties? (It happens.) Or perhaps Roth and his label are waiting to release the album alongside the new Van Halen stuff rumored to be in the works?
It's sometimes difficult to tell why an album reaches a state of limbo. Sometimes it's a legal problem. Sometimes it's something to do with the artist. Sometimes it has everything to do with various aspects of career and industry coming together to form a kind of doldrums for new material -- it is there, but adrift.
Hopefully, David Lee Roth and the work he, John 5, and Gregg Bissonnette have done will get a release date soon. Nothing like a little mystery (where is it? is there new Van Halen stuff coming? why is it on hold?) to drum up a little advance publicity -- for the David Lee Roth Band, John 5, and Van Halen.