Van Halen

Warner Brothers Records, 1986


REVIEW BY: Alfredo Narvaez


With the third version of Van Halen currently on tour -- and getting reamed by the critics (I read Larry's review) -- I thought it'd be nice to revisit the previous two versions of the Van Halen ship and see where and how they differ. Today, we'll go back to VH, Part Deux (or Van Hagar).my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

After the classic split between David Lee Roth and the Van Halen boys, Ed was seriously thinking of just getting a number of guest vocalists as replacement. Instead, he called on veteran Sammy Hagar (who has been on more bands than I can count) and was coming off his biggest success with his hit single, "I Can't Drive 55." The result was 5150 -- probably their finest album with Hagar.

The album has some good rockers like "Good Enough" and "Summer Nights" as well as the soft ballads for which Hagar gets hammered on a daily basis - "Love Walks In," the title track, "Why Can't This Be Love" among others. The ballads work great. I mean, "Love Walks In" is so pretty and "Dreams" could never have been done by classic Van Halen.

Then there's some of the different lyrics that couldn't found in earliest Van Halen. Take "Best of Both Worlds" for example. "I don't know what I've been living on/ But it's not enough to fill me up/I need more than words could say/I need everything this life can give me." While some might find them questionable or dumb, this reviewer finds them more honest than much of the drivel that passes for lyrics in these days.

There are a few strikes in here as well. "Inside" tries to be both progressive as well as funny -- but it's neither. However, one big strike out of nine songs isn't that bad. Overall, you can feel maybe a bit of relief from the band that they don't have to be "Van Halen," but can be a band.

Though the albums on the Van Hagar years moved more and more towards a progressive, adult-oriented, rock, in here you will find the bridge from 1984 to the present. While the classic Van Halen was a rocking machine, it was their years under Hagar that allowed them to part ways and expand their sound. Now, if they could get to kicking ass again....

Rating: B+

User Rating: B



© 1998 Alfredo Narvaez and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers Records, and is used for informational purposes only.