Van Halen is officially back. We now have an album release date of Feb 7 for "A Different Kind Of Truth,"  a confirmed tour and our first video for new single, “Tattoo.”  Shot in an empty club (until the end at least),  the clip for “Tattoo” succeeds if the point is to show that David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen and Alex Van Halen (and Eddie's son, Wolfgang, on bass)  are still all upright, but if the purpose was to get this fan excited to buy tickets, mission not accomplished.

A few other thoughts:

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1) Strobe lights do not make you look younger. By shooting the video in black & white and with occasional stop-motion photography, all it does is jar the viewer and not in a good way.  Plus, it’s odd to see Roth sometimes lipsynching and then other times completely doing something else totally unrelated.

 2) Diamond Dave still has the moves as he shows at the very beginning when he’s prattling on about Elvis on his elbow, but they seem fairly tame now. We know the days of the mid-air splits are long gone (God knows how he ever did those in the first place), but he seems to be relatively still fleet of foot--except for when he’s standing around looking a little lost.

3) If you generally like Van Halen for Eddie’s guitar playing (Duh), “Tattoo” has a few minutes that will make you smile, such as Eddie’s opening riffs and then a solo (that starts around 2:45) reminiscent of “Jamie’s Crying.” Granted, his basic wizardry is so far above mere mortals’ ability that we take his superhuman talent for granted, but I know when my breath is taken away by one of his solos and this one doesn’t do it. Same with Roth’s vocals. he shows off with a few vocal pyrotechnics, but there are no great upper register screams.

 4) “Tattoo” is a pretty weak song.  It’s got a nice, chugging intro and the aforementioned EVH solo, but otherwise, it’s a fairly pedestrian affair about a housewife who gets a transformative tattoo and then “Uncle Danny” who “fought for the unions. Some of us still do," DLR proclaims, adding he has his union number tattooed on his arm.  It’s a little weird to hear a political statement in the middle of a VH song.  Plus, we can guarantee no one’s going to go around singing the word “Tattoo” like we all did with “Jump.”

5)
Van Halen was one of the first true superstars of the video age and I can’t help but wonder how I’d feel about this song if smoking videos of the band 30 years ago weren’t so readily available on my computer. No one is immune to aging, but it’s impossible for me to watch the clip for “Tattoo” and not yearn for the days of yore.

What do you think of "Tattoo?"

Follow Melinda Newman on Twitter @HitFixMelinda