Diamond David Lee Roth was the ultimate frontman for his Hall of Fame group, Van Halen. After their 1984 album, David quit Van Halen when he thought their music was turning more pop-oriented and less authentic to their rock roots. Ironically, this same scenario of losing your hard rock edge and going soft epitomizes Roth’s declining solo career. Here’s a retrospective look at David Lee Roth’s solo album discography and the ultimate track from each release (exception: the last two albums are painful listening to them twenty years later).
“CRAZY FROM THE HEAT” 1985
Just a four track EP but David took the high flying, karate kickin’ flamboyant image from his “Jump” video to another level here. A lively album of party rock covers from the Lovin’ Spoonful (Coconut Grove), The Beach Boys (California Girls), Louis Prima (Just A Gigolo), and The Edgar Winter Group (Easy Street) quickly went platinum and put Roth on heavy rotation all summer long on MTV.
“EAT ‘EM AND SMILE” 1986
David replaced guitar hero, Eddie Van Halen, with another hired gun, stealing Steve Vai from Whitesnake for the first of two albums that demonstrated David hadn’t lost his ability to rock. “Yankee Rose” and “Goin’ Crazy” hold up to anything on Van Halen’s 5150 album. The media loved to compare the new Van Hagar album to Dave’s solo work but it was a draw early on. Once again, Dave kept up the kitsch with a great version of Sinatra’s “That’s Life”.
A double platinum release that spawns two of David’s best solo hits. The bluesy ballad “Damn Good” and the feel-good pop-rock hit “Just Like Paradise” were the highlights on an album that was strong, but clearly a step back from the superior “Eat Em And Smile” CD.
“A LITTLE AIN’T ENOUGH” 1991
Exit Steve Vai and enter Jason Becker. For the first time, David’s album doesn’t go platinum. You couldn’t pick a better title for this release, it’s got shining moments (the harmonica-driven bluesy “Sensible Shoes” and the title track) but it’s clearly evident “a little ain’t enough.”
“YOUR FILTHY LITTLE MOUTH” 1994
Think about this for a minute, 1994, the peak of the Grunge and Gangsta Rap era and David releases an eclectic album of jazz, reggae, rock, blues, and big-band flavored tracks. Nile Rodgers from the disco band, Chic, and famous for his work with Madonna and Duran Duran produced the album. It’s a mess!
“DLR BAND” 1998
Recorded and mixed in just 10 days, even Roth’s die-hard fans can’t get behind this album. No hits, songs weirdly named like “Indeedido” and “Lose The Dress (Keep The Shoes)” that you don’t want to hear twice in your lifetime. Only saving grace? Betty Page appears on the CD cover!
“DIAMOND DAVE” 2003
At this point, David is a lounge act and sounds like he’s a parody act of himself. No one is taking him serious anymore and he’s covering Hendrix, The Beatles, and The Doors here? His ridiculous attempt to turn Van Halen’s “Ice Cream Man” into a ditty alienated the Van Halen fans hoping for Dave’s comeback?