By way of Christian's FB post this afternoon, I present Klosterman's
take. He has this to say about Eddie's tone -- which is, after all, the visceral key to VH's early greatness. I'm happy to see Chuck has obviously read some of my earlier posts here
The most crucial aspect of Van Halen — more than the virtuosity or the attitude or the cocaine — is Eddie Van Halen's guitar tone. It's the most jarringly singular post-Hendrix guitar tone anyone has ever produced (EVH calls this the "brown sound," which never seemed accurate to me ... but it's his sound to name). The finest Eddie Van Halen tones are found on 1978's Van Halen, 1979's Van Halen II, and those '76 demos (now referred to as "Van Halen Zero" in bootleg circles). The fact that he can still shred is secondary.... (But) his leads are almost always propulsive, and you can't really criticize his tone; the only thing you can say is that sometimes that tone is better and sometimes that tone is worse. And it was better in '76 (at least to me). It was better when it was analog
Agreed. Eddie got boring the more effects he utilized and the the more technology he employed to flesh out his sound. The key to his early genius-- just like Hendrix-- was his conservative use of effects pedals and his reliance on sheer volume and primitive, physical techniques to melt skulls, sonically.
After sitting and listening to the new album, I agree with this completely:
I unconsciously suspected my takeaway would be, "This is a bad album, but I love it nonetheless." My actual sentiment is closer to, "This is a good album, but I just don't like it, no matter how much I try." And I'm disappointed in myself for feeling that way, somehow, which only proves that the things I understand most will always confuse me forever.