"Tattoo"

The reunited Van Halen's recent New York gig showed that the guys could share a stage without mauling each other, and rock out like it was 1984. On their new single, all the components are in the right place, too: those aerodynamic harmonies, Eddie Van Halen’s whining-dragon guitar solo, his brother Alex's pole-dancing grooves and David Lee Roth's neon-peacock strut. Sadly, this slow-boiling ode to body ink never really hits liftoff. Roth savors lines like "Show me your dragon magic/So auto-bio-graphic," and brags that he has the number of his uncle's union chapter emblazoned on his shoulder. (Diamond Dave is a lefty! Who knew?) But if Van Halen had dropped "Tattoo" into one of their Eighties shows, you might've headed to the concession stand for a Coke, or wondered if theirs was wearing off a bit. (In fact, the song's main riff sounds like it was borrowed from "Down in Flames," a late-1970s live cut.) Still, it's great to have you back and windmill-kickin', fellas.

Listen To "Tattoo":

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From The Archives Issue 1148: January 19, 2012
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