Live: Right Here Right Now

According to internal Warner Bros. sources, the former record label of Van Halen, David Lee Roth was threatening legal action over the idea that a compilation should be released to include material from the era of the first Van Halen albums (1978-1984) along with DLR solo songs. Understandably this would have not been a brilliant marketing decision for “Van Hagar”. The band, although beginning to suffer from problems internally, did not want to show this commercially. Sammy Hagar era Van Halen were here to stay, it seems. Sammy Hagar would only sing Roth era songs live, not recreate them in the studio simply for the purpose of one angry man.

David Lee Roth was still angry about Van Halen.

Picture courtesy http://societyofrock.com/10-times-david-lee-roth-was-actually-really-really-cool-photos

Warner Bros. then came up with an idea that worked for every party involved, which was to release a live album and video based on the motion that some of David Lee Roth era Van Halen songs were covered. It managed to keep everybody satisfied.

The video was filmed over two nights: May 14 and May 15 1992. It was shortly aired on radio afterwards as the “Cabo Wabo Radio Festival” on the 20th of August that year, and was well received. The video and album were released in early 1993.

Although commercially a success for a live album, this album was strategic self-harm for Van Halen, beginning to suffer once again from internal issues.

Picture courtesy http://www.kensettlephotos.com/gallery/

However, although the album reached the charts and sold well, it is not really live per se. Sammy Hagar in his autobiography mentioned in particular that the process of re-recording some parts of the album was overly extensive and laborious, and further weakened his relationship with the rest of the band, particularly with Eddie Van Halen. These sorts of problems only worsened over time.

Let’s observe firstly the live album, then the video itself. The live album itself does sound heavily edited. It is hard not to feel annoyed or disappointed at the production involved as it sounds like a mishmash of too much editing, low/loud crowd noise and in general a lackluster effort of mixing. Indeed, if people like Sammy Hagar are to be believed, then it is not really at all a live album. Yes, there are two discs of Van Halen songs. But most of them are from the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge era with little variety otherwise. Somewhat lacking overall, although even so, not the worst of Van Halen. Still, it is worth purchasing if you have the patience to sit through two discs of Van Halen songs, a feat that fans can appreciate.

Regardless of any over-editing, Live: Right Here Right Now does sound sonically fantastic.

Picture courtesy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vwx3pmXuOIk

The live video is quite a lot better. Although again, some blame can be shifted to the people who edited it, and director Mitch Sinoway for choosing to mix the two nights not so seemingly blended, it is a good, not great representation of Van Halen mark II.

So, what are the highlights? After watching the video and listening to the CD, there are some very good moments. “Poundcake” is awesome live. And it does not take a genius to realise by the following track, “Judgement Day” that Eddie Van Halen had really achieved a huge step forward in his guitar sound and tone with his Ernie Ball Music Man EVH Model and Peavey 5150 amp rig. It is undeniably powerful and awesome.

Eddie Van Halen sounds as though he is on fire on this recording.

PPicture courtesy https://www.flickr.com/photos/43908441@N00/6287630815

There are other highlights, such as Alex Van Halen’s “Drum Solo” (although probably a bit too long), the live version of “Spanked” and of course, Eddie’s guitar solo “316”, which combines a series of structured passages that Eddie had perfected over the years into a live setting. Brilliant. And Sammy Hagar does prove himself to be a great singer with “Eagles Fly”.

But there are some poorer moments too, most notably the over-the-top and ridiculous “Bass Solo” by Michael Anthony. Watching it the first time makes a little bit of sense, but repeated plays on either video or audio format makes you seriously wonder the purpose of it. It is theatrical, yes. But very unmusical. The fact that the live video covers every single song from For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge is very disappointing as well.

Regardless of anything, the F.U.C.K. tour of 1992-1993 was one of the most successful Van Halen tours and Live: Right Here Right Now is a good representation of that.

Picture courtesy http://www.eddievanhalen.com/forum/van-halen-news/concerts-and-gigs/695703

So overall, a mixed effort by Van Halen. Shortly afterwards the worst would occur to the once powerful and seemingly cohesive group. However, regardless of that, Live: Right Here Right Now is good Van Halen fun.

You can watch the entire concert film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdBqQ_ZA2Os

References:

  1. Van Halen News Desk. 2013. Live: Right Here Right Now. http://www.vhnd.com/live-right-here-right-now/

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