Eat 'Em and Smile

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Eat 'Em and Smile
Eat Em And Smile Cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 7, 1986
StudioThe Power Station, New York City, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California, Can-Am Recorders, Tarzana, California
GenreGlam metal[1][2][3]
LabelWarner Bros.
ProducerTed Templeman
David Lee Roth chronology
Crazy from the Heat
Eat 'Em and Smile
Singles from Eat 'Em and Smile
  1. "Yankee Rose"
    Released: June 18, 1986 (peak #16)
  2. "Goin' Crazy!"
    Released: October 25, 1986 (peak #66)
  3. "That's Life"
    Released: November 1986 (peak #85)
  4. "Tobacco Road"
    Released: December 1986
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[4]
Robert ChristgauB+[5]
Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal7/10[6]
Kerrang!4.5/5 stars[7]
Rolling Stone(favorable)[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2/5 stars[9]

Eat 'Em and Smile is the debut full-length solo album by original Van Halen vocalist David Lee Roth, released on July 7, 1986.


After releasing Crazy from the Heat, an EP of lounge standards that became a surprise hit during early 1985, and subsequently parting ways with Van Halen while the band was at its commercial zenith, Roth assembled a new backing band: bassist Billy Sheehan (later of Mr. Big); drummer Gregg Bissonette (later of Ringo Starr and Elton John, among others); and guitarist Steve Vai, who had worked previously with Frank Zappa, PiL and Alcatrazz.[8]

Both a critical and commercial success, Rolling Stone wrote that no song on Eat 'Em and Smile was as slick as any of the singles from Van Halen's 5150 album, (which featured Roth's replacement Sammy Hagar) and also opined that Eat 'Em and Smile was much more "trashy fun".[8] Indeed, many of the reviews of Eat 'Em and Smile compared it directly with Van Halen's synth-heavy 5150, often favorably.[10]

The extensive North American Eat 'Em and Smile Tour ran from mid-1986 through early 1987.

While there’s no evidence of a direct link to Roth, the phrase ‘Eat ‘Em And Smile’ was part of a trademark registered in 1928 by the now-defunct Ward-Owsley Co candy company in Aberdeen, South Dakota.[11]


In a nod to his hit solo EP, Roth included two lounge songs on Eat 'Em and Smile, "That's Life" and "I'm Easy," plus a cover of John D. Loudermilk's folk-blues classic, "Tobacco Road." Two of the album's original songs, however, became its biggest hits. "Yankee Rose," a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the Statue of Liberty, became an MTV and radio hit, rising into the Billboard Top 20.[12] The would-be theme to Roth's then-planned movie, "Goin' Crazy!" also became an MTV staple while hovering near the middle of Billboard's Hot 100 during the early autumn of 1986.[13]

A version of "Kids in Action", originally by Kim Mitchell (of Max Webster), was also recorded for this album. However, due to time constraints, the song was not included on the release. Billy Sheehan was briefly a member of Max Webster, according to Kim Mitchell: "He was in the band for about three weeks...[but] it didn’t work out. There were no hard feelings and he went on and did really well. I got a call from him one day and he goes 'Hey man I'm in the studio with David Lee Roth, Ted Templeman and Steve Vai and we're covering your tune "Kids in Action" and we need the words to the second verse'. I was shaking on the phone; this was right after Roth left Van Halen. Then at the last minute it got bumped off the record for "Tobacco Road," they thought they needed a cover. See there's those darn covers again." There is no known studio version of Roth's cover available to the public.

This was the first of two Roth albums to feature the duo of Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan on guitar and bass respectively. Throughout the album the two would often sync complicated bass lines together with the lead guitar parts, as on tracks such as "Shyboy" and "Elephant Gun." The album brought Steve Vai into the public eye as a contender with Edward Van Halen, the previous guitarist who worked with Roth. This album features some of Steve Vai's most prominent guitar work.[13]

Sonrisa Salvaje[edit]

Sonrisa Salvaje (literally "Wild Smile") is the Spanish-language version of Eat 'Em and Smile. According to the Van Halen Encyclopedia, the idea to re-record the album in Spanish was the idea of bassist Billy Sheehan, who had read an article in a magazine which reported that over half the Mexican population was between the ages of 18–27, a prime record buying market.[citation needed] Roth re-cut all his vocals[when?] with the help of a Spanish tutor in the studio. He changed around some of the racier lyrics, so as not to offend the more conservative Spanish-speaking population. With the exception of the vocals, the basic music tracks are the same as the Eat 'Em and Smile version, with the only exception being "Big Trouble", which ends abruptly as opposed to fading out on the English version.

According to Sheehan, the album wasn't well-received, with many people considering it "gringo Spanish". Any future Spanish-version ideas were dropped. Sonrisa Salvaje was originally released on vinyl and cassette, but deleted almost immediately; a CD version did not appear until 2007. All of the liner notes on the original release were written in Spanish, except for the copyright notice and the Dolby noise reduction information on the cassette version.

Critical reception[edit]

Daniel Brogan of the Chicago Tribune found the album to be a "manic spree" where Steve Vai's "stinging guitar work" is the most appealing component.[14] Terry Atkinson of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "And the Ted Templeman-produced "Eat 'Em," which stands up well alongside the best Van Halen albums, features the Roth you know: rock's answer to those pop-eyed libidinous wolves of the old Tex Avery cartoons."[15] Eat 'Em and Smile was named "album of the year" by Kerrang! for 1986.[16]

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleWriter(s)Sonrisa Salvaje TitleLength
1."Yankee Rose"David Lee Roth, Steve Vai"Yankee Rose"3:55
2."Shyboy"Billy Sheehan"Tímido"3:24
3."I'm Easy"Billy Field, Tom Price"Soy Fácil"2:11
4."Ladies' Nite In Buffalo?"Roth, Vai"Noche de Ronda en la Ciudad"4:08
5."Goin' Crazy!"Roth, Vai"¡Loco del calor!"3:10
6."Tobacco Road"John D. Loudermilk"La Calle del Tobaco"2:29
7."Elephant Gun"Roth, Vai"Arma de Caza Mayor"2:26
8."Big Trouble"Roth, Vai"En busca de pleito"3:59
9."Bump And Grind"Roth, Vai"Cuánto Frenesí"2:32
10."That's Life"Dean Kay, Kelly Gordon"Así es la Vida"2:45


Additional personnel[edit]


Chart (1986) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[17] 26
United States (Billboard 200)[18] 4


  1. ^ "Top 50 Glam Metal Albums". Metal Rules. Archived from the original on November 26, 2017. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  2. ^ Westhoff, Ben (December 6, 2011). "Chuck Klosterman's Favorite Hair Metal Albums". LA Weekly. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  3. ^ "The 40 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time". Spin. October 30, 2019. Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  4. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Eat 'Em and Smile – David Lee Roth review". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved September 7, 2011.
  5. ^ Christgau, Robert. "CG: David Lee Roth". Robert Christgau. Retrieved September 7, 2011.
  6. ^ Popoff, Martin (November 1, 2005). The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 2: The Eighties. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Collector's Guide Publishing. p. 295. ISBN 978-1-894959-31-5.
  7. ^ Dickson, Dave (July 10, 1986). "It's the Meal Thing". Kerrang!. No. 124. London, UK: United Magazines ltd. pp. 10–11.
  8. ^ a b c Farber, Jim (September 11, 1986). "David Lee Roth: Eat 'Em and Smile : Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved September 7, 2011.
  9. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Christian Hoard (2004). The Rolling Stone Album Guide. New York City, New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 704. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. rolling stone david lee roth album guide.
  10. ^ "Van Halen's '5150' Vs. David Lee Roth's 'Eat 'Em and Smile' – Great Rock Debates". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  11. ^ Baker, Eric; Blik, Tyler (1985). Trademarks of the 20's and 30's. Chronicle Books. p. 125. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  12. ^ "Robert Christgau: Album: David Lee Roth: Eat 'Em and Smile". Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  13. ^ a b "Steve Vai Discusses His Albums with David Lee Roth & Van Halen's 'A Different Kind Of Truth'". Van Halen News Desk. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  14. ^ Brogan, Daniel (July 25, 1986). "Guitar Work Almost Makes Roth's "Eat 'em" Appetizing". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 259. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  18. ^ "Eat 'Em and Smile Billboard Albums". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved September 7, 2011.

Further reading[edit]

Templeman, Ted; Renoff, Greg (2020). Ted Templeman: A Platinum Producer's Life In Music. Toronto: ECW Press. pp. 409–12. ISBN 9781770414839. OCLC 1121143123.