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Why Van Halen didn’t ‘Photoshop’ their live album

Eddie Van Halen was happy to release the band’s first live album with David Lee Roth complete with mistakes – because that’s how the show was heard on the night.

He’s previously discussed how Roth was left to choose from over 150 concert recordings before settling on the one made at Tokyo Dome in 2013.

Now Van Halen tells Guitar World: “There are mistakes. After it was mixed I listened to a few parts and went, ‘Okay, I fucked that up.’ But that’s how it sounded that night so we just left it.

“It’s like a photograph of that evening and we didn’t Photoshop it. When you fix parts or mistakes, it’s not a real live experience any more.”

He believes that honest approach adds to his band’s aggression. “There’s this uncontrolled energy,” he says. “It’s never really right or perfect, but it creates tension. It’s like, ‘Okay, who’s going to blow it?’

“When you keep waiting for someone to fuck up but no one does, it keeps you on the edge of your seat. It’s the real thing.”

Van Halen remembers his disappointment on being told that Cream’s Wheels Of Fire release was assembled from different concerts. “That ruined it for me,” he says. “I thought it was one performance.”

The guitar icon has already told how he’d love to make another studio album. Now he says: “We don’t ever plan that far ahead. That’s how the live album came about. The best things aren’t planned far in advance – we like to keep it loose.”

Former singer Sammy Hagar recently criticised the “pretty rough vocals” on Tokyo Dome. Van Halen are featured in the latest edition of Classic Rock, on sale now. They launch a US tour in July.

Martin Kielty

Not only is one-time online news editor Martin an established rock journalist and drummer, but he’s also penned several books on music history, including SAHB Story: The Tale of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band (opens in new tab), a band he once managed, and the best-selling Apollo Memories (opens in new tab) about the history of the legendary and infamous Glasgow Apollo. Martin has written for Classic Rock and Prog and at one time had written more articles for Louder than anyone else (we think he's second now). He’s appeared on TV and when not delving intro all things music, can be found travelling along the UK’s vast canal network.