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Roth, David Lee - 1988 Skyscraper

ARTIST: Roth, David Lee
ALBUM: Skyscraper
LABEL: Warner Bros
SERIAL: 9 25671-2
YEAR: 1988


LINEUP: David Lee Roth - vocals * Steve Vai - guitar * Billy Sheehan - bass * Gregg Bissonette - drums * Brett Tuggle - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Knucklebones * 02 Just Like Paradise * 03 The Bottom Line * 04 Skyscraper * 05 Damn Good * 06 Hot Dog And A Shake * 07 Stand Up * 08 Hina * 09 Perfect Timing * 10 Two Fools A Minute


There's no denying David Lee Roth's solo career got off to a blazing start. 1986's 'Eat 'Em And Smile' was an excellent riposte to his former band mates in Van Halen, a hard rock album which took the sound of the band and planted it firmly in Roth's court. Hiring the likes of Billy Sheehan and Steve Vai was an inspired move, especially when leaving behind Eddie Van Halen's magician like skills on guitar. However this follow up saw cracks in the ship already and over the years this album has come in for some tremendous criticism for being an inferior sequel to the debut. Is it entirely warranted? I don't think so. Roth had definitely taken a keyboard heavy approach to his musical endeavours (like his former band) but it doesn't diminish the songs themselves and this was 1988 after all. You could level this as a quasi-AOR album, but there's still enough hard rock to keep it afloat.

The Songs
There are great songs all over this album, which is why I can't understand the derision that seems to exist around it. The melodic AOR tendencies of 'Stand Up' and 'Perfect Timing' for example are true diamonds in the rough and if they had been recorded by Journey would probably be regarded as classics. 'The Bottom Line' is as close as it gets to the heaviness of the debut, with the swagger you'd expect from Roth at his best. The Van Halen styled backing vocals are especially noticeable here. The big hit of course was 'Just Like Paradise' with its unforgettable chorus and massive synths, one of Dave's trademark songs. Vai's guitar work has a great sense of atmosphere here and it's a shame the internal combustion within the band caused him (and Sheehan) to leave. 'Hina' is very reminiscent of 'Little Guitars' from 'Diver Down' which is a great plot twist, with the guitar tone leaving me swearing it's Eddie. 'Knucklebones' and 'Two Fools A Minute' have the Roth showmanship, the latter adding horns into the mix and a sign of things to come on 'A Lil Ain't Enough.' At six minutes 'Damn Good' is lengthy by Roth standards, the acoustic guitar work recalling Led Zeppelin in their 70's prime. The vast array of keyboards adds to the dreamy tone, with even sitar thrown in. The title track is a solid melodic rocker, again heavy on keyboard atmospherics while the unrestrained hard rock of 'Hot Dog And A Shake' allows Vai to unleash his vaunted prowess on his Ibanez in some style.

In Summary
If I was I was held at gunpoint to choose between this or Van Halen's 'OU812' I'd choose 'Skyscraper' every time. It's more melodic, has an eclectic element and is far more outgoing and light-hearted than what VH were creating. Some may cling to the tired notion that this album had a foot in the 'pop-metal' camp, but it's essentially a typical Roth album with everything you'd expect from the man. Even without the departing Vai and Sheehan, Roth proved his class with the previously reviewed 'A Lil Ain't Enough' in 1991, which would be his last moment in the sun, for a few years anyway.

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#1 | jeffrey343 on May 12 2014 23:52:57
Like "Eat 'Em And Smile", I didn't rush out to get this. But I did hear "Just Like Paradise" all over the radio. I had to be a little more judicious with my money back then. But I've given this a chance in the digital music age, and it is pretty good. I think "A Little Ain't Enough" is the pick of the first three, but this does have some good moments. And it is more true to earlier VH than Van Hagar was.
#2 | sabace on May 14 2014 18:55:37
good stuff
#3 | gdazegod on May 14 2014 19:29:45
I have never given DLR's solo albums much attention over the years. I might have to now, after reading these.

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