Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Happy Birthday to David Lee Roth

Editor's note: In honor of the ex-Van Halen singer's 53rd birthday today, Metal-Mixtape revisits his least appreciated album.

David Lee Roth didn't stand a chance when he released Your Filthy Little Mouth in 1994. The real problem wasn't that the shredding licks of ailing ace guitarist Jason Becker were gone. It wasn't that the epicenter of the music industry had shifted from Los Angeles to Seattle, nor that he tapped longtime friend/Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers to help him go pop. It wasn't even that Roth's trademark mane had been toned down in favor of a sedate shoulder-length coif for the album.

The true dilemma was a severe crisis in the songwriting department. Your Filthy Little Mouth suffers from the lack of focus that arises when artists try to borrow from too many musical styles. Tunes like "Cheatin' Heart Cafe" (featuring country star Travis Tritt) and "Hey, You Never Know" are nods to Nashville-fried honky tonk, while "No Big 'Ting" features Jamaican rapper Mitchielous in a lame attempt to tap into the world music market. Then there's "You're Breathin' It," a funk-heavy tall tale about urban living that mixes its metaphors by featuring some very rural harmonica playing. To make matters worse, the song gets the "Urban NYC Mix" treatment at the end of the album. When was the last time you bought a David Lee Roth record to hear a remix?

While dross dominates, there are some redeeming moments. "Big Train" is perhaps one of Tyrannosaurus Roth's finest latter day compositions and hits with the visceral impact of an early Van Halen boogie. Meanwhile, Diamond Dave's cover of "Night Life" by Willie Nelson has all the slow and gritty grace of a Motown soul ballad. But in the end, Your Filthy Little Mouth became Roth's swan song. It was the last platter he recorded for a major label. Worse still, it marked the end of a 16-year partnership with the Warner Bros. Records family that dated back to the first VH album. What started as a valiant attempt to expand his audience resulted in Roth dropping the ball altogether.


Rhodeislandrock said...

I haven't listened to this in a long time and when I do I remember why I don't reach for it.....the songwriting. You hit it right on the head! This is the time that Dave was more about the show than the content. He was all show back in the 70s/80s but he at least created decent songs. He also started to show his eclectic side (that started with the Crazy From The Heat E.P.) and that doesn't cut it with the "meat and potatoes" Rock audiences.

Personally, I think Dave is a genius. I get it, I understand what he's doing. His last album, Diamond Dave, was so out of left field that I found it brilliant.

Marty E. said...

I'm a big fan of DLR, but I never, ever listened to this album.

I figured it sucked.

I guess I was right.

That DLR BAND album that came after it was also horseshit.

metal-mixtape said...

Have to agree with you both, gentlemen. I too am a big fan, but this was his downfall.

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Metal Mark said...

I never heard this one. I seem to remember Fox a special thing where they had Dave doing a live performance just for them around this time. He did two songs off this album and I remember them being alright.

Marty E. said...

Rothy most-likely wouldn't have lost it if he'd stayed true to the sound of Eat 'Em & Smile...it's too bad....

David Amulet said...

I didn't buy anything after A Little Is Enough, and I'm glad I didn't. It's a bit unfair to knock this for being a mishmash of musical styles when DLR always liked to mix up the influences a bit ... but you're right in that this one takes it too far.

I'm not sure this album was his downfall. With 90% of post post-VH fans, that happened when Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan left.

Very few DLR songs after (including?) Skyscraper were very good. But oooooh ... those albums with Van Halen ....

-- david

audiogirl said...

Probably not Dave's best effort, but has some good moments.

DLR Band took a little time to grow on me, but it's far and away my favorite now.

Diamond Dave was also GENIUS-- albeit "out there." But, isn't that what we like about Dave