David Lee Roth's DLR Band (1998)

It was good to see Van Halen reunite with their original frontman David Lee Roth while Eddie Van Halen was still alive, because it was a reunion that I once thought would never happen. Why? Because a failed attempt was made at such a reunion back in 1996. Roth briefly rejoined the band at that point, recording two new VH studio tracks for the compilation album Best Of – Volume 1, and appearing on camera with the rest of the band on MTV. But the sham reunion ran aground after Roth and Eddie Van Halen clashed, and the VH frontman slot was then ephemerally held by former Extreme singer Gary Cherone – with whom the band recorded the ill-fated Van Halen III album in 1998. For his part, Roth went ahead and recorded his own surprisingly hard-rocking album with an outfit called the DLR Band, or David Lee Roth Band. This album was distributed on Roth's own indie label called Wawazat!!. The self-titled DLR Band CD sounded quite similar to early Van Halen, but was rawer in nature. One of the three guitarists was John Lowery (aka John 5), who later played with Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie. The other two guitarists were Terry Kilgore (who had played with Roth in his pre-VH band Red Ball Jet) and the late Mike Hartman (who went on to record an all-instrumental solo CD called Black Glue before he died in 2000 from cystic fibrosis). On three tracks – "Lose The Dress", "Going Places", and "Tight" – Lowery played the bass while Kilgore played guitar. Ray Luzier, the DLR Band's drummer, later joined Korn.

It sounds as though the aborted Van Halen reunion left Roth feeling all revved up and looking for an outlet for the songs he had hoped to create with VH, because he and his band unleashed a torrent of hard-rock fury on the DLR Band CD. The album brings back more memories of the first two Van Halen albums than most Van Halen albums do. Roth reverted back to his VH-era personality, avoiding the campiness which sometimes marred his post-VH solo albums, and let loose with fiercer vocals than usual. The guitarists on this album were clearly followers of Eddie Van Halen, but usually came across as less virtuoso and more aggressive. The guitar sounds – and Roth’s vocals – are particularly ferocious on “Relentless” and "Indeedido". Other standout tracks include the mid-tempo sophistications of “Going Places…” and “Black Sand”, and the slightly Zeppelin-esque “Blacklight”, on which Roth bellows like Robert Plant – or at least tries to. Roth was never the most gifted vocalist, and he was never one to over-intellectualize rock and roll. Fortunately, the DLR Band album aimed low and hit the mark, putting the pedal to the metal and delivering authentically exciting and stylishly raunchy hard rock in much the same way Roth's former-and-future band had done in the beginning.

It’s a good thing that The DLR Band album is readily available at this time, because there was a time when it was difficult to find. From a 1998 standpoint, it was far preferable to Van Halen III, and in retrospect, it is more consistent than the 2012 Van Halen-with-Roth album A Different Kind Of Truth.

Note: This CD was issued in Finland on the EMI label (catalogue number 07243 521504 2 7), packaged as a self-titled David Lee Roth solo album, but with the same Bettie Page cover art.

David Lee Roth - DLR Band

DLR Band “DLR Band” (Wawazat!! Records WACD 1217-2) 1998

Track Listing:

1. Slam Dunk!
2. Blacklight
3. Counter-Blast
4. Lose The Dress (Keep The Shoes)
5. Little Texas
6. King Of The Hill
7. Going Places…
8. Wa Wa Zat !!
9. Relentless
10. Indeedido
11. Right Tool For The Job
12. Tight
13. Weekend With The Babysitter
14. Black Sand