The video, filmed at 5150, shows the guitarist playing the riff to “Amsterdam” several years before the song’s public release. The clip appears to have been shot in the mid ’80s, but the song wasn’t officially out until it appeared on 1995’s Balance.
You can watch the video below.
It’s unclear exactly when the video was taken, but Van Halen’s haircut and “Team Jams National Champs 1986” jersey indicate the casual studio jam probably took place in late 1986 or early 1987. The finished version of “Amsterdam,” which included lyrics written by singer Sammy Hagar, was eventually released as a single, but Van Halen was reportedly unhappy with the direction Hagar had taken the song.
Newly sober at the time, he felt Hagar’s lyrics didn’t convey much depth or meaning, particularly for a song titled after Eddie and Alex Van Halen‘s birthplace. Balance ended up being the band’s last studio album to feature the singer.
“It’s not like I suddenly wanted Sammy to be my puppet or anything, but once in a while I would take issue with a specific lyric or line,” Van Halen told Guitar World in 1986. “For example, I always hated the words ‘Wham, bam, Amsterdam,’ from Balance, because they were all about smoking pot – they were just stupid. Lyrics should plant some sort of seed for thought, or at least be a little more metamorphical [sic].”
Turns out Van Halen were quite skilled at the art of revisiting past material and refashioning it into something new. “Girl Gone Bad” from 1984, for instance, borrowed from the band’s original Warner Bros. ’70s demo sessions, and several tracks from 2012’s A Different Kind of Truth repurposed previously unheard songs.
“Before the internet, nobody would have known that these were songs that we had already written but never released,” Van Halen told Guitar World in 2012. “When the album first came out, some people were saying that we purposely did old songs to get the public to relate to our old sound. But this record wasn’t planned that way. Whenever we make a record, the first thing we do is go over what we already have in the bag that we can pick from, and then we focus on writing new material. … A good idea is a good idea no, matter when you do it.”