About Van Halen – 1981


Hey Guys,

Here is my Podcast on Van Halen’s 1984 Album. I composed and recorded the music throughout the podcast because I wanted to have a 1984 style Van Halen sounding backing track.


The Beatles and Revolver

The Beatles image and music before Revolver was very Pop/Pop-Rock sounding. Their “British Invasion” sound, and the look that they portrayed, which was the iconic “Boy Band,” had young and old people (specifically girls) loved them for it (Simone & Schuster, 2001). When it came to Revolver, the Beatles were beginning to use hallucinogens and Acid based drugs, i.e. LSD, to help with their song writing creativity and add some of their songs to the rising Psychedelic Rock era. “Revolver can be seen as a transitional period for the band. The Beatles haven’t necessarily left their Pop-rock sound, and they’re just beginning to explore the limits of their musical potential (Campbell, 2012).”

Like I previously stated, the use of non-musical influences, such as drugs, helped them with their song writing and musical creativity. Not only did they use drugs for music creating, they also did it for performance based side effects. Ringo Starr said this in an interview, “This was the point of our lives when we found pills, uppers. That’s the only way we could continue playing for so long. They were called Preludin, and you could buy them over the counter (The Beatles Bible, 2009).” On the Everything Was Right podcast, the song “Tomorrow Never Know,” you can hear a psychedelic sound and lyrics, which was influenced by LSD and an ancient Tibetan book. “The first song recorded for Revolver was the psychedelic “Tomorrow Never Knows,” featured lyrics adapted from Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert’s 1964 book The Psychedelic Experience, itself a modern reworking of the ancient Tibetan Book of the Dead (The Beatles Bible, 2009).”

When it came to recording Revolver, the Beatles used the studio as an instrument for their recording. They used different studio techniques such as reversing, slowing and speeding up the tape, tape flange, and many more techniques which helped with the psychedelic vibe that normal instruments couldn’t accomplish (Lewisohn, 1988).

If you listen to song, “I’m Only Sleeping,” you will hear this example with the instrumentation. “…It exudes a very dreary expression and a unique sound of reversed guitar arrangements that gives it a very hypnotic vibe (Campbell, 2012).” There is no way back then to reverse a guitar sound without the use of the studio. In the song “Tomorrow Never Knows,” if you were to listen to the song you could hear the sped up tape loops that were used for the psychedelic vibe. Another example of innovations used by the Beatles off Revolver was the sampling of a Sousa March in “Yellow Submarine” (Lewisohn, 1988).

When I listen to Revolver I will always get attracted to the catchy melodies, and exciting elements that make the psychedelic and unique sound that the Beatles sculpted into their image. As an industry professional I love the different studio techniques and weird elements that the Beatles included into their music but they still make the songs catchy and very easy listening.

The Beach Boys and “Pet Sounds”

The music of the Beach Boys before Pet Sounds was very Surf-Rock/Bee-Bop sounding. The pounding drums with the duhduh-duh-duhduh-duh snare, the twangy guitars, and the vocal harmonies all gave their songs this classic original sound; when heard is related to surfing, or surf-rock. Songs like Surfin’, Surfin USA, 409, and many more released in 1962-1963, gave the image of the Beach Boys and their home state California. Their music was about surfing, cars, and romance, which gave them the image of these “cool” guys singing about “good-feeling” things (such as what I listed before).

“One of the undisputed geniuses in popular music, Brian demonstrated an uncanny gift for harmonic invention and complex vocal and instrumental arrangements (Hall of Fame, 2013).” Even though he is the front man of the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson is always considered the main songwriter in the Beach Boys because he did complex arrangements, heavy producing, and engineering tricks. He also takes the groups songwriting and album making very serious, to the point where he will make sacrifices to further their success. “On December 23, 1964, Brian Wilson decided to stop touring with the band and focus on studio productions (Cherry, 2002).”

Brian Wilson wrote and recorded Pet Sounds because of the Beatles. “It was upon hearing the 1965 Beatles album Rubber Soul that Wilson felt compelled to produce a work of uniform quality that would stand comparison (Stevens, 2007).”

What made Pet Sounds stand out was the fact that almost every song on the album had a unique characteristic to it, which made it different than most music that was being recorded and released at that time. One of the songs, “God Only Knows,” was unique in the name and instrumentation. “The track notes for ‘God Only Knows’ offer some interesting tidbits, including anxiety over the decision to include the word ‘God’ in the title.” The instrumentation was also different in the fact that the song includes many unusual (unusual for 60’s pop era) instruments. “The instrumental group was large by 60s pop performance standards, including standard guitar, bass and drums, but also including several orchestral instruments – orchestral strings, French horn, percussion, piano and harpsichord (Ewer, 2011).”

Another unique aspect of the Pet Sounds album was that they used unique production when it came to the recording process. The album has a stereo and a mono mix because a producer named Phil Spector influenced Brian Wilson, and that is what Phil did with his records. This made a unique release with each version of the album having a different sound due to the Mono Mix and Stereo Mix.

The impression the Pet Sounds had on me, as a listener, was that the melodies were catchy and the music and instrumentation was very well done. As an industry professional I thought the different recording and mixing tricks done to the record was very interesting and I certainly learned a few tricks here and there just from researching it.