In the dark days of 1998, Metal was dead, guitar solos were dead, and the career of people like David Lee Roth was certainly dead. In this uncertain atmosphere, Diamond Dave put together a band on an independent label and quickly recorded and released this album.
Most of the songs on this CD feature John Lowery on guitar and B’urbon Bob on bass. These are in fact the same person, current Rob Zombie guitarist, John5. This explains the shredding guitar on this release, as well as the country feel of songs like ‘Little Texas,’ which ends up sounding like ‘Hot for Teacher’ part 2, and ‘Going Places.’ Overall though, this sounds like the album that Van Halen should have made after 1984.
The solos are the only thing that don’t sound Van Halen on this CD, because John5 is fast, but he’s never been a tapper, so the solos are just totally different to a Van Halen release. This is neither good nor bad, it’s simply a point of difference. The solo on ‘Weekend with the Babysitter’ is closest to a Van Halen one, but it doesn’t sound tapped.
Once you know it’s John5, it becomes obvious on tracks like ‘Relentless’ and ‘Counter Blast.’ Without his tasty high speed riffing, this CD could have merely been Dave trying to play on past glories. As it stands, it’s the band behind Dave that makes this something a bit special. It’s not surprising that tracks where he doesn’t play guitar, like ‘Indeedido,’ sound more like a pastiche of early Van Halen. They are still good songs, but not as adventurous.
‘Black Sand,’ the last track, is a moody, synth-heavy rock track. Of the tracks without John5, it’s the highlight.
John went on to leave, Dave took forever to tour, he only played one song from the album live (‘Slam Dunk!’), and with poor distribution and no promotion, the album sunk without a trace.
Given where the players on this CD ended up (John5 with Rob Zombie, Ray Luzier in Korn, and Dave basically fading away despite a virtually non-existent reunion with Van Halen), this CD is a cool artefact of where these players were as the new century loomed. For fans of John5, or of David Lee Roth, it’s essential and yet, for the reasons stated, a lot of people didn’t even know it existed. It’s available on eBay, usually from the States, and obviously it’s on YouTube…