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Van Halen ‘Tattoo’ the Sunset Strip in First New Video With David Lee Roth


Trent Reznor isn’t the only rocker with his mind on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Van Halen has posted a video unveiling their first new song with original frontman David Lee Roth in more than 27 years, and it’s polished, bluesy rocker “Tattoo,” in which Diamond Dave asks to see a new tattoo and its “sexy dragon magic.”

While Rooney Mara might want to cross the street when she passes this man on the sidewalk — Diamond Dave is old enough to be her grandpa! — the Van Halen faithful have plenty here to enjoy. Roth revives some of those wonderfully over-the-top vocal tics, including a priceless “ohhhh yeaah” yowl, and when he goes into one of those classic spoken-word interludes over the band’s heavy riffage, it doesn’t even sound too much like Lou Reed’s collaboration with Metallica. Eddie Van Halen, meanwhile, rattles off one of those finger-scorching guitar solos we’re just not likely to hear on pop radio anymore unless it’s by a guy named Eddie Van Halen. As for the song’s “tattoo”-chanting sexual entreaties, they’re silly and ridiculous — exactly as you’d expect from Roth’s Van Halen reunion.

Shot at Los Angeles club the Roxy, the video piles on the OTT-ness without making the unforgivable mistake of looking like it’s trying too hard. It’s basically a straight black-and-white performance clip with some flashy strobe effects, except it starts with a checkered flag being waved and ends in a hail of balloons. Roth, with boyishly short-cropped hair and bell bottoms, struts around the stage like a modern-day Liberace, here in an overlong scarf and there in a sparkly jacket, never failing to play his rock’n’roll role to the bleeding hilt. “Show me you, I’ll show you me,” he gruffly intones, in case the song’s entendres left anything to double.

It’s all enough to make us wish we had been at Van Halen’s intimate Greenwich Village show last week. Oh, what’s that? Some people were. The rest of us can catch “Tattoo” on the reunited Van Halen’s forthcoming A Different Kind of Truth, due out on February 7. Roth, Eddie, and the rest of the band are set to kick off their North American tour on February 18 in Louisville, Kentucky.