By JAY ROBERTS
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
DAVID LEE ROTH – A LITTLE AIN’T ENOUGH (1991)
It’s funny how things turn out sometimes. I picked this album out of The Big Box of Cassettes and even though I hadn’t listened to it yet, I kind of started writing a potential opening to this article in my head.
However, I really had to throw that out once I listened to the album. The reason for that is because most of what I was going to say by way of introduction had to be eliminated or at least changed up a bit.
While I have listened to David Lee Roth sing as part of Van Halen for years, I have to say that I was never a member of the Cult of Dave. He was a great frontman, that’s not in question. But I just never thought he was the greatest thing since sliced bread like so many other fans would likely say. And as he aged, the stuff that made him a legend became more cartoonish and sad to me.
As for his solo music, I’d heard the various songs that got played on the radio, but the only album I ever bought was the Skyscraper release. That had the big “Just Like Paradise” hit on it and I liked that album well enough. But I’d never bothered with any of his other albums, so listening to A Little Ain’t Enough for this article was also the first time I’d heard anything besides the title track.
Let’s just say I didn’t have high expectations.
And wow did I get a wildly rude awakening! Seriously, this is a such a freaking fantastic album that if I was a Looney Tunes cartoon character my eyes would be bugging out of my head and my jaw would’ve hit the ground like an anvil.
The title song opens up the 12-track album and it is still rather exciting to hear. I think I heard it recently on the Dee Snider radio show “The House of Hair” so that might be why I remember it so keenly now. Either way, it is a really rocking number that sets the stage for the rest of the album.
The thing that I had somehow forgotten is that this album featured Jason Becker on lead guitar. I remember that he had been in the band but not what period that was in Roth’s solo career. Looking at the songwriting credits, I did find it odd that he only had just two co-writing credits though (More on Becker in the Notes of Interest section).
Truth be told, the credited band lineup for the album was pretty intriguing. Steve Hunter (from The Alice Cooper Band), Brett Tuggle and both Matt and Gregg Bissonette. They all had songwriting credits in various combinations as well.
Still, that couldn’t have really prepared me for what was to follow the album’s title cut. Let me just get it out of the way now, there is not a bad track on here! With six songs on each side of the cassette, Roth has what would likely be thought of in the 1980’s as a perfect album to put on at a party.
The majority of the music is of the fast paced and crackling with electricity rockers but on a couple of songs (“Tell The Truth” and “Sensible Shoes”), Roth and Co. get impressively bluesy.
As I said, I like every song on this album. I bounced from one cut to the next with a very charged feeling to hear what was next. I suppose I was also waiting for a song to come on that I didn’t like so that I could say, “Ah! This Sucks!”, but I gave up on that by the time Side One finished.
I loved the Side One song “Hammerhead Shark” a lot, but I was really blown away by the Side Two track “It’s Showtime!” which was one of the two tracks that Jason Becker co-wrote. It’s is so relentlessly paced that I wondered how Roth kept up the rapid fire pace with his vocals to keep up with the music.
And that’s just a couple of tracks that I decided to spotlight in particular. But you can’t go wrong with any of the songs. You’ll find something to love with “Lady Luck”, “Shoot It”, “Last Call” and “40 Below” as well.
Normally, I might be mad to have been so thoroughly proven wrong about an artist and/or album but with the case of David Lee Roth, this album’s title proves musically prophetic because I find myself unable to get enough of this album. It’s really impressive to me and I think that once I finish writing this article, I’m going to go back and play it again!
NOTES OF INTEREST: Guitarist Jason Becker was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) a week after joining the band. While he did finish recording this album, he was unable to tour for it as his illness had progressed enough to rob him of the strength in his hands.
Guitarist Steve Hunter not only played on nine Alice Cooper albums (including the most recent one Paranormal) but he’s played with Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman and others. He’s also released seven solo albums. According to Wikipedia, he’s legally blind.
While A Little Ain’t Enough sold enough copies to achieve gold certification, it was considered the downfall of Roth’s run of success. The tour was a failure and the album went out of print in 1996 before a remastered edition was released in 2007. The title track was co-written by singer/producer Robbie Nevil, best known for the 1986 smash hit single “C’est la Vie”.
The biggest surprise to me, other than loving the album, was discovering that longtime Dio guitarist Craig Goldy co-wrote the song “Lady Luck” for the album.