Archive for October 19th, 2007


Who’s Right Slap-Fight

Girls, Girls, You’re Both Pretty

I wrote that VH’s keyboards and not Eddie Van Halen or his guitar tech were the culprit in this clip. For the sake of argument, let’s hear and evaluate the technically possible reasons the keys and guitar are clashing.

Reasons AGAINST the 44/48 explanation:

1) The keys aren’t wrong, Eddie’s guitar was “knocked” out of tune before the song started. Untrue: this doesn’t make any sense because in the clip, Eddie’s whole guitar, all the strings – are in tune with themselves. Therefore, a bonked headstock or a broken string can’t be the reason, it has to be systemic. I received many comments insisting that this was the case. I maintain it isn’t – not even with a Floyd Rose bridge, as many have sworn.

2) Eddie’s guitar tech gave him a guitar tuned incorrectly for the song. If this is true, then it’s the biggest coincidence in the world that (i) the guitar’s tuning is correct for the album’s tuning of “Jump” and (ii) the tech tuned the guitar to a pitch that somehow couldn’t be transposed with the allegedly in-tune keyboards. Highly unlikely.

3) Many posters have claimed that VH has a keyboard player onstage (which we don’t see in the clip), so why use a recording? Even if there were a live keyboardist, if he was playing the part live through an improperly-set digital audio interface, he would still experience the sharpened, non-western-scale pitch. See (Reason FOR #5 below).

4) VH are intentionally playing the song in C# as opposed to the C it was originally recorded in on the 1984 album. The problem there: as far as I can perceive, that keyboard pitch is not C#, it’s north of C# but south of D.

5) “Wolfy is in tune.” This is pretty funny since I can’t, and I challenge anyone to hear – any bass in this cellphone recording. Nor would I expect to – it’s a cellphone recording. I sure can’t hear any Michael Anthony. Oof!

Reasons FOR the 44/48 explanation:

1) The difference in pitch between the keys in the clip and the keys in the original 1984 recording is the same.

2) Eddie never gets back to in tune. If the pitch difference were just a semitone instead of about 1.5 semitones off, he certainly could, but he can’t – the difference in pitch does not lie in the western scale, it lies between the notes of C# and D. He can’t get in tune (without twisting all the tuning pegs of his guitar) because there’s no fret between C# and D.

3) The tempo of the song as compared to the original LP recording is also sped up to just about the degree that a 44.1 recording would be at if it were played at 48K.

4) If, as many have said, Eddies guitar was out and the keys were on, and their difference was just a semitone apart, why in the world wouldn’t one of the most virtuosic guitarists in the world not be able to transpose after a few bars? I say he didn’t because he couldn’t. (see reason FOR #2)

5) This video below demonstrates the principle at play with the difference between 44.1Khz and 48Khz, it actually shows the button, the clips and the match between EVH’s tuning in the clip and the tuning on the 1984 record.

Add these together and then show respect for the simplest explanation and you come up with screwed-up keyboards.

Since it’s not obvious, I should make it clear: I was not there, I was not backstage, and I did not witness the problem’s specific cause. I used my ears and experience and came up with the best explanation.


I Wasn’t Kidding, I Like It Better


This Van Halen video clip is finding itself in a lot of places, and creating lots of typing. Unfortunately, most of this comment and message-board chatter is kind of dumb. Especially the sanctimonious blah-blah from the many pony-tailed inhabitants of various guitar/gear sites. To hear them tell it, this is some kind of moment of failure for the Van Halens and isn’t it a shame?

Listen up, shreddy: It is not a shame, it is transcendent.

While I like VH’s Fair Warning a lot, it’s true that I have always hated 1984’s “Jump”. Thanks to the song’s intense and enduring popularity it has stubbornly refused to fade from my memory as so many REO Speedwagon and Styx songs obligingly have. When I first saw this clip, my jaw dropped as all of yours did, but mine dropped because finally, this song was coming out of the speakers the same way I had always heard it.

Let me explain: this song’s ridiculous, obvious major-key swells, as used for the the ground under guitarist Eddie Van Halen’s histrionics are intended to be stirring and uplifting. Indeed, this is how most appreciative listeners experience these moments. I’m just not that lucky.

This is the clip’s genius: when the anthems’ most triumphant peaks arrive with an alarming leviathan groan instead of the intended sound of angels gently urinating arcs into the sky, it throws, finally, the overt phoniness of this wretched song into sharp contrast. The dissonance highlights exactly where you were supposed to be most elated, most manipulated by greeting-card level sentimentality — but instead leaves you appropriately laughing. Bless you, Van Halen.

The dissonance itself, well, that’s no crime at all. On-stage dissonance is in fact pretty goddamn cool, as the following clips clearly prove.

(Fred Willard introduces the lead guitar stylings of Mark Mothersbaugh)

(A tender ballad from a skinny bunch)

(The late, great Brainiac)



rob [at] warmowski [dot] com

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Rob Warmowski entry at Chicago Punk Database
1984-89: Defoliants
1991-94: Buzzmuscle
2001-05: San Andreas Fault
2008- : Sirs
2008- : Allende
October 2007
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