Van Halen rode the crest of 1970s riff-rock into 1980s abandon. Always able to produce a smile and a killer hook, their songs captured a West Coast attitude that combined Eddie Van Halen's guitar gymnastics and the high-energy antics of vocalist David Lee Roth with solid backing by bassist Michael Anthony and drummer Alex Van Halen. Following Roth's less-than-amicable departure, the band signed up reckless driver Sammy Hagar, and their success continued into the '90s. When Hagar left after several albums, the band's fate seemed uncertain, but they soon found a temporary replacement in ex-Extreme frontman Gary Cherone.
Limited Edition Japanese pressing of this album comes housed in a miniature LP sleeve. 2008.
1984 was a successful record not only because it contained solid, catchy hard rock, but also because it incorporated synthesizers into the mix, the first metal album to do so to any serious extent. Although the advances in electronic music make this material sound dated now, it's still a highlight of Van Halen's career. Songs like "Jump" contain a pop element that gave 1984 mainstream appeal, and David Lee Roth turned the frontman role into an art form on songs such as "Panama," "Hot for Teacher," "Drop Dead Legs," and "I'll Wait." To a large extent, it was 1984 that set the standard for '80s pop metal, and David Lee Roth who set the standard (or takes the blame, depending on your point of view) for the aggressively good-time attitude most pop-metal bands took for their own. --Genevieve Williams