Sunset Sound continued its Van Halen November series with parts 2 and 2.5 of their interview with engineer Brian Kehew. This time Kehew takes us into the studio to hear never before heard outtakes and alternate endings of classic Van Halen tracks.
Kehew was hired by Warner Bros. around 2005 as an independent contractor to sort through their archives to find material worthy of inclusion on reissues of the band’s David Lee Roth era albums released between 1978 and 1984.
In episode 2 Kehew was joined by Sunset Sound Recorders YouTube channel host Drew Dempsey, Sunset Sound owner Paul Camarata and Sunset Sound Senior Engineer Geoff Neal to play them some Van Halen gems.
Within the first few minutes of the video (1:45) Kehew played a different recording of Eddie Van Halen’s legendary instrumental “Eruption”.
“This is something that everyone’s heard before [but] this was done at Studio 1 which has a bit less of a bright sound,” said Kehew. “[Studio 1 has] a little more [of a] thick sound and is less echoey I would say than this big room in [Studio] 2. You can hear the sound of that room and the drum mics and so forth [in this version]. This is just basically a room mic or a drum mic overhead that picks up the actual sound of what they were doing. I think one of the takeaways from this [recording] is – you’ve heard the mixed record, the finished sound, but you can hear that guitar sound is really coming through the amp.”
Kehew also played an isolated guitar track recording of “You Really Got Me” (8:39), a deleted cold ending of the band’s hit single “Jamie’s Cryin'” (11:02) along with audio of David Lee Roth in the vocal booth talking in between recordings during the ‘Women & Children First’ album sessions. At around the 14:43 mark of the video Roth can be heard speaking in his best alien accent. This was, according to Kehew, a reference to the Los Angeles glam rock band Zolar X who were known at the time for dressing and acting like space aliens.
“Zolar X did play with Van Halen,” said Kehew. “I think one of the last Zolar X shows was opening for them about 1980 which doesn’t make any sense to me at all. Although they both had kind of a hard rock sound they didn’t fit the audience at all. But it’s funny that [David] obviously was making fun of them on the tape here and I don’t think almost anybody else but me and a few people would get that.”
Watch all of part 2 below:
The episode titled episode 2.5 is the final installment of Sunset Sound Recorders roundtable discussion Kehew. In it Kehew and the crew talk more about early Van Halen and share some new facts that the studio dug up from 1977 recording session work orders.
Watch all of part 2.5 below:
Below is the first portion of Kehew’s interview:
Read more on Kehew including his exclusive comments for the Van Halen News Desk HERE.