First cranked in the 8-track player of his parents’ ’79 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight, this tune epitomizes the glory of early Van Halen for PG’s head honcho.
I’ll always remember the sunny afternoon in the summer of 1979 when the skinny little 7-year-old me walked out the front door and set eyes on the brand-new, gleaming red Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight 4-door parked in our driveway. The new ride was my favorite color, with a suave white tolex-like accent on the roof and tufted red seats plush and comfy as a living-room couch. But none of that would’ve mattered if not for the cutting-edge technology lodged in the middle of the dashboard. It looked like the same ol’ FM/AM push-button radio from our green bomber, but no—push in that middle section, and it opened up like R2-D2 waiting for you to insert the blueprints to your musical destiny while cruising in an oil-crisis-oblivious V8.
Early on, we only had three 8-track cartridges—a freebie collection of parent-soothing tunes, a Carly Simon album, and my brother Sam’s Van Halen II cartridge. This was a mere year after “Eruption,” “Runnin’ with the Devil,” “Jamie’s Cryin’,” and the rest of VH’s first album had blown my mind. I didn’t play guitar yet, but it didn’t matter. The seeds had been sown, and any trip in the new car wasn’t just bearable now, it was something to look forward to. Catchy, swaggering tunes like “Beautiful Girls,” “You’re No Good,” and “Dance the Night Away” made even an underage turd like me feel like a cruisin’ badass.
In the ensuing decades, my musical tastes went through fairly seismic shifts. Much of the stuff I listened to as an impressionable, overcaffeinated teen guitar fanatic does nothing for me today. Not so for the original-lineup VH albums. With those, Edward Van Halen, David Lee Roth, Michael Anthony, and Alex Van Halen changed the world in ways their acolytes could never match, and most of it has stood the test of time beautifully. “Mean Street,” “Little Guitars” (both parts), “Unchained,” the list of incredible tunes is long. But for me the one that encapsulates everything awesome about golden-age VH is “Light Up the Sky” from that second amazing album.
From the very first notes—a simple but killer guitar-and-bass counterpoint intro—it’s perfect driving music. To this day, I still listen to “Light Up the Sky” at full volume, over and over again, in my car. Like a great action movie, its first “scene” immediately grabs your attention, then leaves you with a cliff-hanger snare crack before building suspense with a methodical, insistently chugging verse guitar part made more menacing by Anthony’s throbbing, subtly shifting unison lines. The guitar sounds mean yet articulate, with Edward’s impeccable mix of straight-ahead rock chords and more sophisticated grips creating the sorts of nuanced moods and textures he still rarely gets credit for.
Meanwhile, Roth is in top form: His voice is strong and impressively varied—that inimitable scream before the solo!—and his lyrics are typically cryptic but not yet stupidly weird. And Ed and Anthony’s background vox add a sense of otherworldly wonder mingled with a sense of impending doom and roaring triumph.
Production is clean, hi-fi even. Every instrument is highlighted by a spatial depth that both juxtaposes quite drastically with the down ’n’ dirty vibe of the band’s debut and perfectly highlights this particular song’s master class in dynamics. Never before had Ed and Alex displayed such seamless descents into whisper-quiet interplay as they do during the funky-chorded interlude before the solo. The solo may not be Ed’s most pyrotechnical (though in my opinion it’s got some of his most musical whammy work), but in terms of sheer memorability it’s almost unmatched. Short and sweet, it’s like a mini song in itself. And when it ends with those four double-stop bends, it’s yet another masterful cliffhanger segue to a drum break featuring Alex’s best solo work. It may not be as technically impressive as, say, the intro to “Hot for Teacher,” but it rules at creating a sense of anticipation—like the falling action before the final plot twist at the end of the movie—the one right before you realize the too-easy disposal of the bad guy, or the nail-biting car chase, was really just prelude to a huge plot twist where everything explodes in a glorious crescendo of fire and adrenaline.
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This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
Adding to the company’s line of premium-quality effects pedals, Missing Link Audio has unleashed the new AC/Overdrive pedal. This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal – the only Angus & Malcom all-in-one stompbox on the market – brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
The AC/OD layout has three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone. That user-friendly format is perfect for quickly getting your ideal tone, and it also offers a ton of versatility. MLA’s new AC/OD absolutely nails the Angus tone from the days of “High Voltage” to "Back in Black”. You can also easily dial inMalcom with the turn of a knob. The pedal covers a broad range of sonic terrain, from boost to hot overdrive to complete tube-like saturation. The pedal is designed to leave on all the time and is very touch responsive. You can get everything from fat rhythm tones to a perfect lead tone just by using your guitar’s volume knob and your right-hand attack.
- Three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone
- Die-cast aluminum cases for gig-worthy durability
- Limited lifetime warranty
- True bypass on/off switch
- 9-volt DC input
- Made in the USA
MLA Pedals AC/OD - Music & Demo by A. Barrero
Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters are designed to offer a fat midrange and a smooth top end.
Billy Corgan was looking for something for heavier Smashing Pumpkins songs, so Joe Naylor designed the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One pickup. Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters have a fat midrange and a smooth top end. This pickup combines the drive and sustain of a humbucker with the percussive attack and string clarity of a P90. Get beefy P90 tone plus amp-pummeling output with the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One.
Patented Railhammer Pickups take passive guitar pickups to a new level with rails under the wound strings lead to tighter lows, and poles under the plain strings offer fatter heights. With increased clarity, the passive pickup’s tone is never sterile.
Railhammer Billy Corgan Signature Z-One Pickup Demo
For more information, please visit railhammer.com.
Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.
Complete with a range of game-changing design features, such as the patent-pending attachable FREERIDE Wheel System, premium water-resistant and reflective materials, shockproof shell structure and improved ergonomic features, the Vertigo Ultra Bass takes gear protection to the next level.
The Vertigo Ultra Bass features:
- Patent-pending FREERIDE Wheel System that allows for wheels to be attached on the case in no time, giving you the option to travel with it seamlessly
- Upgraded materials, including a water-resistant 1680D Ballistic Nylon outer shell, plush inner lining and new reflective trim for maximum backstage and night visibility
- Enhanced protection with a shockproof shell structure and heavy-duty water-resistant YKK zippers for protection from the elements
- Improved ergonomics and functionality including added back support and load-lifting detachable shoulder straps with side release buckles
- Flexible storage options with added space for touring essentials