David Lee Roth

Here's rock's greatest living caricature with an offering that's as irresistible as fool's gold—no lasting value but full of laughs. In his last solo project, the four-song Crazy From the Heat EP, the former Van Halenite who's now a poseur without partners came up with nifty cover versions of the Beach Boys' California Girls and Bing Crosby's Just a Gigolo. This time out, he's unearthed a forgotten rock classic—J.D. Loudermilk's '60s hit for the Nashville Teens, Tobacco Road—and another who'd-of-thunk-it rocker, That's Life. Roth sings the Sinatra standard with such wonderful perversity that there's no threat it will ever turn up on adult contemporary radio play lists. Of course, Roth is not one of rock's great musicians. He's an entertainer, and when the album-oriented rock stations and their arena-filling fans tire of him, there will always be a place for Diamond Dave and his shtik in Vegas. Born too late for vaudeville, too soon for punk and too amusing for his own good, Roth makes up for his lack of a great singer's sensibilities and voice: He's all style. Live audiences can have fun watching him while they guess what kind of goose causes these squawks and what induces those Ed McMahon-on-acid yowls. But list those might mind that there's less than half an hour of music on this LP and that some cuts sound like Van Halen leftovers—compare Elephant Gun on this record with V.H.'s Hot for Teacher. You gotta like lyrics like "She was a dime a dozen/ And they were two of a kind" (from Big Trouble) and "Got to keep things movin'/ Till my personality starts improvin' " (from Shy Boy). It would be nice, however, if Roth had come up with some musicians of the caliber of Eddie Van Halen and the boys to kick around with. The journeymen players at work here manage to make their guitars sound like incoming mortar rounds, and the drums are adequate at the firing squad rolls, but these are no great musical shakes. Never mind. Just play this record loud and remember: It's only Dave. (Warner Bros.)

I WISH I WAS 18 AGAIN

  • Contributors:
  • Steve Dougherty,
  • Ralph Novak,
  • Michael Small,
  • David Hiltbrand.