80's rock fans must've been easily pleased. That is the assumption after listening to this piece of shit album. Granted, I was never the biggest fan of DLR - or even Van Halen, come to think of it - but as my blog for Reel Big Fish proved, I can see the good in things that, to me, are otherwise crap. The only good thing to come out of this album is the guitarwork of Steve Vai. That man can shred like a motherfucker! Granted, his solo (no pun intended) stuff may be technically proficient but ultimately, an exercise in guitar wankery, on this album he sounds like a man on fire! Whereas DLR deserves to be set on fire...
This was the first DLR solo album after the split with Van Halen. While they grew up amd released 51/50 (An album which had a fair few love songs and ballads), Roth went back to the hard rock stylings of his Van Halen days. I saw 'went back' because his EP 'Crazy From The Heat' was all covers and presented a lounge-jazz sound. Just listen to the cover of "Just A Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody", that's an example right there. The video was also a technicolour bag of cheesy shite, as was the video for the cover of "California Girls". So, within two singles, we've got a template for DLR's solo career. All style, flashy gimmicks and zero substance. Unless, of course, the 'substance' in question came from either Columbia or Peru...
To his (or his manager's) credit, a strong backing band was put together for this album. Aside from Vai, we had Billy Sheehan on bass (He ended up in a band called Mr Big who did a shit song called 'To Be With You' and another one whose name escapes me but the guitar solo was played with a plectrum attatched to a power drill) and drummer Greg Bissonnette, who has worked with Joe Satriani, Santana and, erm, Pat Boone. The guy seems to be a drummer-for-hire and he's competent enough, I guess.
To be honest - the album starts off promisingly with first song 'Yankee Rose', which although full of double entendres, is actually about the Statue Of Liberty. The intro is especially great, as it's a "conversation" between DLR and Vai's guitar! Then after that, we're into the shuffle-rock stylings of "Shyboy". Again, another great song. So, we're off to a flying start, but then...
We get ANOTHER lounge-jazz song, "I'm Easy". It's awful. Simple as. It seems like DLR is trying to get through the song on enthusiasm alone but it doesn't make up for the fact he has an awful voice. The forgettable "Ladies Night In Buffalo" and "Goin' Crazy" fly past with all the presence of a cocaine user bursting into a party, comandeering the stereo and trying to sing along to whatever shit they've got playing. That's a description I feel sums this album up.
Side 2 begins with a cover, "Tobacco Road". It's possibly the best song on the album. "Elephant Gun" is another shuffle-rock thing before the album then peters out into the atypical hard rock of the day. It ends on ANOTHER jazz thing, "That's Life". Seriously? Why bother when the average DLR fan is not gonna have any appreciation for anything other than saying "Dude" a lot? I guess the 'jazz' sound was to try show a more 'mature' side (Like when George Michael recorded 'A Different Corner' to shake off his teenybopper image - oh if only we knew back then!) but if that was the case, why have goofy videos to go a;long with the songs? I guess it was because of MTV. Fuck, The Dead Kennedy's had a point...
It seems this album could've been a great EP if they'd ditched the shit. It would've been a short EP, mind you. The best things about this album are Vai's guitar playing and, erm, that's it. If they'd got a decent singer then the album would've had an extra couple of marks. Who that singer is? I've no idea! It's shit like this that makes me glad I got into metal in the 90's.
Interestingly, this album was recorded in Spanish! They did this to try and corner the Spanish-speaking records market. The name was changed/translated to Sonrisa Salvaje and, from all accounts, it was a brave attempt but the indications were that the lyrics were not translated well into Spanish and the whole thing sounded like shit. I've heard the Spanish version and although it's a novelty, it doesn't lose or gain marks. As to whether the Spanish is poorly translated, I wouldn't know as I don't speak Spanish. No hablo espanyol, even.
Fans of 80's hard rock - or novelty goons - might appreciate this but frankly, I think it should be locked in a vault. Thrash metal was where it was at. Sure, there were hardly any women in that scene, but we had all the best tunes.
2 - If only there was some quality control.
You can buy this album and it's Spanish counterpart off iTunes.
You can buy this album off Amazon
You can listen to this album on Spotify