Van Halen release 'Tattoo,' first new song with David Lee Roth in 16 years: Hear it here

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When Van Halen invaded New York City’s tiny Cafe Wha? last week, they played one “new” song over the course of their one hour set.

The song in question, “She’s the Woman,” was kind of a cheat; it’s been kicking around since around 1976 but was never recorded. (It will finally get a proper release when the band drops A Different Kind of Truth, their first David Lee Roth-led album in 28 years, on February 7.)

But what of actual new music written in this century? [UPDATE: Or possibly not.] This morning, the band let loose the first official single from A Different Kind of Truth: A groovy little ditty called “Tattoo” that contains all the requisite elements for a Van Halen single—huge honking riff, rugged backbeat, blistering guitar solo, and enough room for Roth to do his talking-blues thing with the lyrics, which focus on a woman who goes from “mousewife to momshell in the time it took to get that new tattoo,” a lyric both charmingly inexplicable and almost alienating in its smugness. But then Diamond Dave smiles and winks and everything is all right again.

It’s not going to replace “Jump” or “Dance the Night Away” in the great VH pantheon, but it’s a pretty solid first step for a group of guys who haven’t recorded together since Roth lent his vocals to “Me Wise Magic” and “Can’t Get This Stuff No More” for 1996’s Best of Volume 1. (For the record, this is way better than either of those songs.) Give it a spin below.

Everybody sounds pretty good, though it’s missing the one great Roth vocal peak in the chorus. They should feel confident that among the rock songs called “Tattoo,” this ranks ahead of the Who’s “Tattoo,” the Siouxsie and the Banshees B-side “Tattoo,” and miles beyond the Tommy Lee-less Mötley Crüe comeback track “New Tattoo.”

What do you think of “Tattoo”? Is it missing something, or do I just want everything to be “Panama”?

Knowing that this and “She’s the Woman” are both on A Different Kind of Truth, how is that album shaping up for you? And will you be picking up tickets to the tour, which go on sale today? Jump into the comments.

Read more on EW.com:
Is there a place for Van Halen in 2012? Survey says…
Reformed Van Halen performs intimate NYC gig
Van Halen back on the road again in 2012

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