Hey, hey, hey, it's a Van Halen bonanza on the SHMF these days. I thought I'd create a track by track thread for Van Halen II which can run along side the one for Diver Down by @Musicman1998. Van Halen Diver Down Song by Song Thread Like my other threads on Women and Children First and Fair Warning, we'll do a song a day. Please feel free to comment on the song at hand or anything else you'd like to discuss about the album or the band, but just don't jump ahead to a song I haven't gotten to yet. So that's it. VAN HALEN - II (1979) The recording of Van Halen II occurred approximately thirteen months after the release of their enormously successful debut. II was recorded at Studio 1 at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles which was the same studio that was used for the first album. In fact, little changed in terms of the recording process from the first to the second album. The band recorded live and due to the limited budget (even less than they were allotted for Van Halen) many of the songs from II are first takes. The album took about a week to record and another two weeks were taken to mix and master the recordings. At the board were, again, producer, Ted Templeman and engineer, Donn Landee, who employed the same techniques as the first: few overdubs, a simple guitar, bass, and drums approach in terms of instruments and, of course, lead and background vocals. Edward Van Halen had toyed with the idea of using some synthesizers for the recording, but that idea was not utilized. As far as Edward’s sound, he preferred to crank out his amps to maximum volume and overdrive the circuits. His sound is very similar to that of the debut, but, perhaps, not having quite the equal bite with the sound of his guitar being pulled back ever so slightly. The recording equipment that was employed for II at Sunset Sound was actually fairly outdated for the time as the band recorded on an Putnam 610 console that had been used previously by such artists as Frank Sinatra and The Doors as well as many Disney movies. When the album was presented to the studio heads it was deemed a failure, but sales quickly dispelled that inaccurate assessment. The album was released on March 23rd of 1979 and went gold the following month and platinum in May of the same year. For many fans, this album is considered a favorite, however, it is often seen as a "lost" album by many as it's overshadowed by the enormous popularity of the debut. For myself, I think it's a great slab of hard rock and has contains some of Eddie's best solos and melodies and, perhaps, two of Van Halen's greatest songs ever (but we'll get to that). Now, with that, let's look at the first track. YOU’RE NO GOOD 1979 (Clint Ballard Jr.) (3:18) Van Halen II starts out a bit curiously with the introductory track being a cover. Written by Clint Ballard Jr. the song had been covered previously by such artists as Beverly Everett, Swingin’ Blue Jeans, and, of course, Linda Ronstadt who had her first number one single with the song in 1975. The idea to do the song came from producer, Ted Templeman, who suggested it to the band. Van Halen had actually played the song before in their club days so they were familiar with the song, but had actually never heard the song on any record (Eddie has said in a somewhat confusing that statement that the song “doesn’t sound like the original, but I’ve never heard the original”). Never the less, in typical Van Halen fashion, they attacked the tune in their own unique way once they recalled their arrangement (reportedly Templeman had to hum a couple of the bars to Eddie so he could remember how it went). The song begins with Michael Anthony doing some effects heavy ascending bass lines (from what was supposed to be a bass solo in the middle of the album, but that idea was nixed) which then melds with Eddie’s volume swells (which was also originally meant for another song called “Down In Flames”). The song then moves into its distinctive melody at 0:40 and a Roth snarl. At 0:48 Roth comes with the lead vocal and Eddie and Michael join in on backing vocals at 0:58. Eddie is running primarily in the left channel with Michael Anthony in right and Roth and Alex through both. In a sense, “You’re No Good” kind of runs off the same basic, plodding rhythm as “Runnin’ With The Devil” for the first album, but Edward adds a searing solo for this one which was not included in the debut opener. The song is definitely carried by the fine backing vocals with Michael Anthony more out in front with his distinctive higher register. Van Halen's “You’re No Good” is certainly a smoldering, moody take on the tune, but, as I mentioned, a bit of a curious choice for an opener. It’s not a high energy number and, more importantly, it’s not even an original tune by the band. While Edward has stated that “You’re No Good” is a “good song” he has stated that it was “someone else’s idea” to do it and, perhaps, it wouldn’t have been his choice to use it in hindsight. It definitely starts the album off on a bit of a low key note, but the album returns with higher tempos and more energy in subsequent songs. For myself, I’ve never really liked the cover that much. I think Van Halen pull it off admirably, but it just doesn’t work that well for an opening track. It certainly doesn’t sound like the Linda Ronstadt version in the least, but Edward has stated in interviews that whatever cover the band decided to play it always wound up sounding like him/the band no matter what and that’s the case here as well.