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Van Halen – Bottoms Up ! (Godfather Records G.R.751)

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Bottoms Up! (Godfather Records G.R.751)

Selland Arena Fresno, CA – March 25th, 1979

 (76:59) Light Up The Sky, Somebody Get Me A Doctor, Drum Solo / Runnin’ With The Devil, Dance The Night Away, Beautiful Girls, On Fire, Bass Solo / Your No Good, Feel Your Love Tonight, Outta Love Again, Ice Cream Man, Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love, Guitar Solo, D.O.A, You Really Got Me, Bottoms Up

Van Halen’s second record, II, was released on March 25, 1979 and the tour began the same day in Fresno, California. It was dubbed the “World Vacation Tour” and was a large undertaking, it boasted a 33 ton equipment set featuring new amplification and Lighting and not only did the band have the tour buses they would even use a Lear jet for traveling between shows at times.

The recording from the Selland Arena has been circulating for some time under such titles as On Fire In Fresno (Babyface – BF016), a titles that was missing a couple of songs and Live And Loud (Aces High AH CD 005) and Definitive Fresno 1979 (Shades 474). Earlier this year a new transfer of a verified 1st gen copy of the master spread out to the collecting community, it boasted improved sound and is the source for this release.

The taper who taped so many shows from the area knew what he was doing and obviously had very good equipment as the recording quality for an audience source is superb, a completely three dimensional stereo recording with wonderful dynamics that sounds as if it was recorded yesterday coupled with a great performance by a band literally on fire (Alex used to light his drum set on fire during the show but sometimes would light himself on fire !).

The band hit the stage with two new songs, the first is Light Up The Sky. The sound is infectious from the start and the band sounds powerful and very confident. They waste no time with Somebody Get Me A Doctor, although newly released on record the song has been around for ages and was part of the Gene Simmons demo.

The song is linked nonstop with a Alex Van Halen drum solo, I have a always found it interesting how Alex would get a solo early on, certainly not a conventional thing but again Van Halen was certainly not a conventional band. The crowd screams in delight as the band breaks into their signature Runnin With The Devil, Roth makes good use of some vocal effects during the song that strengthen his screams and Michael Anthony provides those killer high pitched backing vocals.

Roth takes his first rap of the night and talks about the release of the new record and new tour, something that gets a lot of audience praise, he also talks about a celebration…what else. Dance The Night Away was a radio tune that picks up momentum, the band hammer out the ending in great fashion and it carries with a up tempo Beautiful Girls, the atmosphere is bonkers, the band has brought the party and all they needed was an audience who is filled with women, the scream throughout at Roth’s swagger, he is in great voice and full of charm.

Alex fills in while Eddie tunes up and leads into a ripping version of the old set opener On Fire. Honed to perfection from years of playing the song is pure aggression funneled through musicianship and is one of the best examples of live VH. At the songs conclusion Anthony gets into his solo spot and is soon accompanied by Alex, his solo is a series of really fast run through’s that works its way into You’re No Good, short and sweet. Roth follows the song by saying it sure ain’t Linda Ronstadt who also had a hit with the song.

Eddie works in some interesting sounds for another new one, Outta Love Again and the song works well live. It has always been a favorite of mine as it has a great riff and live it’s even better ! Eddie is such an incredible innovator and this song is a good example of his finger dexterity.

Roth gets his solo spot in as he strums his acoustic and as usual it is a great one. He starts off with the weather and talks about harvesting crops, something that gets a huge round of applause as does his question of “are you gonna clap your fucking hands “. His vocal improvisation is a prelude to a classic Dave tune, Ice Cream Man. Anthony and Van Halen give the song a boogie woogie feeling that just swings and the backing vocals are spot on making the song a lot of fun.

Eddie takes his solo  that starts with a bit of Spanish Fly before just ripping into a flurry of notes and hammer ons and while he does not play Eruption he does feature a few snippets of the song within. His solo is just totally inventive and is the thing that would spawn many imitators for years to come, it evolves into a fantastic D.O.A. with Roth proclaiming “This Is It Fresno”. Probably my favorite song from the second record and again is the mix of killer riff and solos with a great lyric, broken down and dirty for sure and the song lays waste to the audience.

The band return for the obligatory encores, their take on the Kinks You Really Got me is always a crowd please and the finale of Bottoms Up is a perfect end. Van Halen live were a party and I remember reading someone describe Van Halen’s music as the sound of thousand of beers cans opening in unison, one statement I can only agree with, its summer time and this release hit at the perfect time.

The packaging is the typical tri fold sleeve, the cover is a great take on the Jack Daniels whiskey black label and the inside is adorned with live shots of the band and even a picture of the tour logo. I do not own the Shades title but suspect it comes from the same source, perhaps someone who has both can comment but for me, this is a must have release. So relax, kick back, turn it up and pop open a can of cold brew and enjoy.

CMR Music Store

If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)

Van Halen - Bottoms Up ! (Godfather Records G.R.751), 5.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings

8 Comments

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  1. Avatar of sleonard
    sleonard says
    January 28, 2013, 11:23 am

    This is just another killer Godfather title!The best era of Van Halen(1970s)and great sound.Get it.

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  2. Avatar of wgpsec
    wgpsec says
    July 12, 2012, 8:49 pm

    Well, I have never heard the Aces High version but I do own both this Godfather title and Definitive Fresno 1979 (Shades 474). After some comparison I can honestly say that these two sound almost identical in quality. Both are very enjoyable and sound excellent and to say one sounds better than the other would be splitting hairs. Godfathers title is about a minute longer but I haven’t figured out where the time difference comes from. They both appear to run at the same speed so it apparantly isn’t a speed issue. I am sure any VH fan would be happy with either of these. Let’s just be happy this new transfer is available on silver disc.

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  3. Avatar of kads
    kads says
    June 28, 2012, 3:24 pm

    Mott is a loudmouth who obviously only want to hear his own opinion and according to him THAT is final. Well let me enlighten you all and him in particular!

    I owned the Aces High version as many Aces Highs they use, as many Japanese labels, inferiori sources. Although nice it’s far from the amazing source used on the new Godfather. The Aces High lacks depth and sounds as if some compression is used. The Godfather version is pristine and is truely 1st gen! The tapes from this taper, including ones by KISS were recently released and this is definitely an upgrade over previous versions. I own(ed) 3 as this is an AMAZING show but this is the ultimate version!

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  4. Avatar of mojopin72
    mojopin72 says
    June 27, 2012, 9:52 am

    The end of the story will be when someone could kindly compare the 2 releases giving a possible neutral opinion……

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  5. Avatar of mott
    mott says
    June 26, 2012, 11:35 pm

    My DAT came from DJ’s master.End of story.

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  6. Avatar of relayer67
    relayer67 says
    June 25, 2012, 8:26 pm

    The Aces High release has been out of print for many years, This version of the tape is reported to be the best in circulation. I would not pass judgement on this tape until someone who owns both versions can give us a definitive answer on how the sound compairs to not only the Aces High version but also the Shades version.

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  7. Avatar of gsparaco
    gsparaco says
    June 25, 2012, 5:35 pm

    I’m curious. Did you actually hear the Godfather to compare?

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  8. Avatar of mott
    mott says
    June 25, 2012, 5:31 pm

    I supplied the tape for the Aces High version and I can assure you it was a cassette master to DAT transfer.That
    makes the first generation tape Godfather is using an inferior one.Alex always did his solo early so he could drink heavily the rest of the show.Numerous interviews with VH band members as well as Al’s documernted alcohol abuse prove that.

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