For the 30th anniversary of Van Halen’s, multiplatinum, No. 1 album, “5150,” we’re spotlighting an unreleased (and unfinished) song from the album, “I Want Some Action,” which you can listen to above.
This is a is a song that was written and recorded during the “5150” sessions, and, interestingly, the only unreleased song that has leaked out of 5150 from all the years with Sammy Hagar as vocalist.
This song comes from a tape of eight “5150” demos that somehow leaked onto the internet and into collector’s hands in 1999. That tape contained this unreleased gem, plus seven demos that would later be properly released on the “5150” album.
Many Van Halen enthusiasts have heard these demos by now, but many haven’t. We figure the 30th anniversary of the album is as good a time as any to feature them!
Listen to “I Want Some Action” above, and the rest of the demos below. Keep in mind these are rough demos — you’ll notice the diminished sound quality and noticeable tape “hiss.” But more notably, these tracks contain many alternate vocals (the lyrics are totally unfinished, and even a bit of alternate music. Unfortunately, Michael Anthony’s signature background vocals are completely missing – he hadn’t recorded them yet. These demos are, naturally, nowhere near as good as the final outcome, but are a very interesting snapshot of where the band was at that moment in time, during the making of that classic album.
If you ask us, “I Want Some Action” is an absolutely killer track that would have made a damn fine addition to an already fantastic album. If this demo version is blowing you away, just imagine what the finished song, properly recorded, would have been like! We can’t imagine how or why they held this back from their fans.
Note that Eddie reworked elements of this song for the bluesy “Stompin’ 8H” for his instrumental performance on Saturday Night Live, in 1987.
Though it was never released as a Van Halen song, “I Want Some Action” did end up getting released, in a way. Eddie handed this song over on silver platter to Steve Lukather, for his first solo record, “Lukather,” released in 1989. The track is called ‘Twist the Knife,” and Eddie co-wrote the song and played bass on the track. Listen to that song below.
Even after it’s near-inclusion on “5150,” and after the SNL performance, and also Steve Lukather’s released, Eddie wasn’t done with this riff.
The main riff resurfaced on “Dirty Water Dog” from “Van Halen III.” Listen below.
So what does everyone think? Would “I Want Some Action” have made a welcome addition to a Van Halen album?
ROUGH DEMOS of the “5150” ALBUM (8 Tracks):
“Twist The Knife” by Steve Lukather & EVH:
“Dirty Water Dog” from Van Halen III: