Category Archives: Sound

Charvel EVH Art Series Guitars

Ultimately Eddie Van Halen got fed up of the restrictive contract with Peavey and wished to do his own thing.

The original Art Series of EVH guitars that was done by Charvel indicated Eddie Van Halen’s future intentions. Little is known about these guitars except that Eddie Van Halen created them with Charvel and marketed them specifically to be sold on the internet through auctions. They were made to Eddie’s specifications and were intended to be replicas of some of his original guitars: the original Frankenstrat; the VH2 “Bumblebee” guitar; the mark II Frankenstrat. They were presented with a certificate of authenticity and an autograph from Eddie himself.

The Charvel EVH Art Series was a chance for Eddie Van Halen to revisit past glories amidst uncertainty in Van Halen itself.

Picture courtesy http://www.edroman.com/detail_sheets/charvel-evh-art-series.html

Since Charvel are now owned by Fender, shortly after the sales of these models, the contract with Peavey ended in 2004, and Eddie Van Halen went to Fender a few years later to sign a new contract to create and distribute his own line of guitars.

The original Charvel EVH Art Series Guitars are very expensive (at least $10 000 AUS) and only available through places such as eBay, so your best bet is to go for the EVH Fender Art Series that is available today if you cannot afford to get one of the original Charvel models. It will not be covered here as it already has been in the past and will be covered again in the future.

Below are some statistics of the build of these guitars, courtesy of http://www.vintagekramer.com:

Origin: Made In USA

Machine Heads: Schaller M6

Body Material: Solid Basswood

Neck Material: Hard Maple

Skunk Stripe: Rosewood

Neck Joint: Bolt-On

Fingerboard: Hard Maple

Frets: 22

Neck Finish: Oil

Tremolo: Original Floyd Rose – Schaller

Pickup: EVH Humbucking made by Fender

Pickup Mounting: Direct to body

Volume Knob: Strat Type – Labelled Tone

Scale Length: 25.5”

Output Jack: Unknown

Controls: Unknown

Headstock: Fender Shaped

The Charvel EVH Art Series Guitars were a tactically good method of EVH removing himself from Peavey and moving onto Fender as the company that sponsored him.

Picture courtesy http://www.posters57.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=794

This prophetic action by Eddie Van Halen later did him a good stroke of fortune as it eventually sealed his contract with Fender, with who he has remained with to this day.

 

References:

  1. Ground Guitar. 2016. Eddie Van Halen Guitars and Gear. http://www.groundguitar.com/eddie-van-halen-guitars-and-gear/

The Best Of Both Worlds

After six years of no album releases by Van Halen, a rushed compilation was assembled with the intention of representing Sammy Hagar’s side of the Van Halen story more clearly.

The Best Of Both Worlds does accurately capture much of what made both eras of David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar, particularly the latter, great. But it does it in a very schizophrenic way.

Instead of laying out the track list with one disc for either main lead singer, it puts the eras track by track. This does upset the flow of the album significantly, with there being no real progression. It just seems all over the place. The album does have great songs, but there is no structure to this compilation.

The marketing behind Van Halen around this time was very poor.

Picture courtesy http://www.reuters.com/article/us-vanhalen-idUSN0746408220070808

On a more interesting note, there were three new tracks with Sammy Hagar. The first, ‘It’s About Time’ was the best, but very ordinary regardless. The following track, ‘Up For Breakfast’ was humourous, yet a little weaker. And ‘Learning To See’ was horrible. Yet, despite the quality of these tracks musically, they finally show the full on roar of the Peavey Wolfgang, a truly underrated instrument and the great Peavey 5150 amps that Eddie used to create his sound.

So, a collector’s item? Only for those who had been hanging out to hear a bit more Van Halen. In short, rather unnecessary otherwise and a sign that Van Halen needed more time to get their act together before recording more new material. Still, worth buying if you really need all Van Halen in your collection.

At last, the Peavey Wolfgang was well represented on the three new songs with Sammy Hagar.

Picture courtesy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peavey_EVH_Wolfgang

Van Halen III

Often considered to be the worst album by the group, Van Halen 3 could have avoided by many means to be that. It was an ill thought idea at the time and represented a turn of the worst for the band.

Were Van Halen thinking straight around this time?

Picture courtesy http://www.vhnd.com/2009/03/17/van-halen-iii-released-11-years-ago-today/

Before I even begin to review this, there are some main flaws with this album. For starters, the group had a lack of focus after the exit of David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar from the group. There was an air of uncertainty about the future of Van Halen and led to apathy in terms of the effort from the group.

Secondly, Eddie Van Halen himself was on a downward spiral personally and musically. His drinking was becoming uncontrollable, a battle that lasted for another decade or so. Also Eddie was assertive in a bad way creative control over all band members, with bad results. Michael Anthony in particular was hurt by some of the creative measures that Eddie Van Halen used on this album. His backing vocals were not used on any song on this album.

Eddie Van Halen and Alex Van Halen were primarily to blame for this poor recording.

Picture courtesy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnWCHt8-Pc0

Another reason is the production and mixing. Mike Post was assigned to do the production on this album, and although it sounds more variable and somewhat more interesting than your typical Van Halen album, it sounds really like a mockery of what Van Halen represented to fans. Also, the mix sounds lo-fi and there are no separation between the instruments at all, making it sound very scratchy in general. More effort could have been used to remedy this problem.

And lastly, Gary Cherone is not suited to Van Halen per se. Indeed, if time had permitted, Van Halen could have selected a better singer for the group to fit them musically. Although Gary was no doubt the most decently behaved of the Van Halen singers, his singing is not the greatest.

Even the single, ‘Without You’ barely charted.

Picture courtesy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lT8RdKN8u9w

So that aside, let’s have a look at the record…

The record starts off with ‘Neworld’ a nice but unimpressive composition. It has some nice harmonics and that is about it. From this point, you realise that the recording is ill thought out.

It leads into ‘Without You’. This is probably the best song off the recording, but still, pales in comparison to what Van Halen were even a few years before. The guitars could have sounded better with some proper mixing, but then again, it is not that good regardless. Not a good start to the recording. Is it Eddie Van Halen progressing or regressing musically? Who knows?

A similar song follows with a poor attempt at social conscience style lyrics, ‘One I Want’. It is neither catchy nor very listenable and makes the stomach churn. Many people would have turned off the recording by this point. The solo is okay though.

In the past Eddie Van Halen would had made his instrument speak. Van Halen III does not do justice to the wonderful Peavey Wolfgang.

Picture courtesy http://www.themusiczoo.com/product/15493/1998-Peavey-EVH-Wolfgang-USA-Electric-Guitar-Transparent-Blue—Used-/

The next song begins with a U2 like guitar part that persists with annoyance throughout the song. The song itself is a drag, and Gary Cherone does fall into the abyss of unsuitable singing for the song. ‘From Afar’ sounds nothing like it should. Disappointing.

Another throwaway track, ‘Dirty Water Dog’ is next. It does not make sense to add this to an already ordinary recording, and just seems like filler. The lyrics don’t make sense either.

Gary Cherone, although a nice guy in relation to Van Halen, struggles on this recording to sound like a Van Halen singer.

Picture courtesy http://www.hollywood.com/celebrities/these-bands-shouldnt-have-kept-going-60232889/

‘Once’ is depressingly bad. There is no joy in this Van Halen song like there was in Van Halen songs of the past. Worth skipping if you listen to this recording.

The next song, ‘Fire In The Hole’, is marginally better. It seems semi-catchy but the mix does not hold the song up well. A good riff and interesting solo for this record but otherwise not really impressive.

‘Josephina’ is a fairly ordinary attempt at a ballad by Van Halen. It does not seem normal for a group like Van Halen to do this sort of thing, and Gary Cherone’s attempt at emotional singing falls flat. Still, a better effort than otherwise expected.

The tour to support this album failed in America, although was successful internationally.

Picture courtesy http://olho.nu/van-halen/history/bio_gary.htm

The overly long, ‘Year To The Day’ is too long and too depressing for any Van Halen fan to really enjoy. Some editing and rewriting would have helped this song, along with the rest of the album itself.

‘Primary’ follows, a coral sitar instrumental. Although unnecessary, it does sound different to the record, a poor attempt at injecting freshness into Van Halen. Okay, but nothing more.

‘Ballot Or The Bullet’ would be listenable, but it sounds terrible. Politics and Van Halen do not mix, and this song is proof of it.

Van Halen were aware that they were running out of breath musically, and disbanded for a long time after this album was released.

Picture courtesy http://www.vhnd.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Van_Halen_1998_Gary_Cherone.jpg

The last song on the recording is by far the worst Van Halen song ever recorded. ‘How Many Say I’ is Eddie Van Halen’s plea to the world to understand his alcoholic mess of a mind. In particular, it seems like a plea to his wife Valerie Bertinelli, who he divorced with three years later. Eddie taking lead vocals is not a good idea, considering he is not a gifted singer. And it has no guitars and is very depressing. A truly bad finish to this record.

The worst part about this record, technically speaking, is that it lacks the power, consistency and innovation of the Brown Sound that resounded so well in previous times. The Peavey Wolfgang could have been better represented on this recording.

Eddie Van Halen was on the decline for a long period of time from the release of this album onwards. It was their last proper album for 14 years.

Picture courtesy https://www.flickr.com/photos/43908441@N00/5296953525

But the whole album itself needed a desperate rethink. Van Halen were about to experience a series of losses and personal troubles for nearly a decade. This album, unless you really wish to complete the Brown Sound in your head, must be avoided at all costs. A disaster. None of the songs were placed on the Best Of Both Worlds compilation, proving the need to forget this album.

Van Halen: Best Of Volume One

As previously discussed, the first Van Halen compilation came along with the rotation of singers. Yet, despite this, how does it sound?

It was a shame that for this particular compilation only one disc was released. Van Halen had more than enough material to fill up two discs of songs, but regrettably only chose one instead. There are many tracks that could have made it onto another disc which would have been amazing.

The two new songs with David Lee Roth were amazing.

Picture courtesy http://www.vhnd.com/2014/09/04/van-halens-original-lineup-presents-mtv-award/

Still, there is a fairly good selection here of music by Van Halen. It begins with ‘Eruption’, leading all the way to ‘Panama’ (or ‘Hot For Teacher’ if you had the Japanese copy of this album) for the first David Lee Roth era. Once that is over, very much the hit singles from the Sammy Hagar era are here. And yes, many fans were aware of these songs yet for a one disc compilation it strikingly sounds well chosen.

Then we have the new tracks. ‘Humans Being’ is very much of one the worst “Van Hagar” tracks you will hear. It is a dirge like song, only redeemed by the loud, prolonged scream at the end of the song. A poor effort indeed.

It is really hard to know what Van Halen and Eddie Van Halen himself were really thinking around this time.

Picture courtesy http://www.guitarplayer.com/news/1024/eddie-van-halen-performs-jimi-hendrixs-fire-and-little-wing–video/52965

Then we get two brand new David Lee Roth songs, ‘Can’t Get This Stuff No More’ is very cool indeed. “Got a date with a supermodel, I know I can make it…” begins Dave on the first new song. It sounds wonderful and fresh, something that Balance seems to lack. Not bad.

More catchy though is ‘Me Wise Magic’. A full on, rhythmic tune with style, it is an underrated gem out of the Van Halen cannon. Eddie Van Halen uses some cool licks on his new Peavey Wolfgang here, and it does justice indeed.

Eddie Van Halen really does show his Brown Sound progression on this particular album.

Picture courtesy http://atlasicons.photoshelter.com/gallery/EDDIE-VAN-HALEN-1996/G0000wb.BUOeMwgk/C0000YdNgrVtpTBs

The good thing about this compilation, regardless of it needing to be more inclusive, is that we can clearly hear for the first time Eddie Van Halen’s Brown Sound transition throughout the years. From the first Frankenstrat on ‘Eruption’ to his Peavey gear on ‘Me Wise Magic’, somehow upon listening one gets the feeling that this is exactly what Eddie desired to show listeners. He seemed very content with showing the difference in sound and tone over the years.

The bad thing about this compilation though is that it does fall short of a truly amazing listen by being too selective of some songs and also needs more of them. After the fade out of the last track, you may sit there and feel left out of what could have been much more.

There could have and should have been another disc of Van Halen material. Yet, despite this, this album is absolutely essential to understanding the Brown Sound progression over the years.

Picture courtesy http://www.covershut.com/cover-tags/Van-Halen-Best-Of-Volume-1-1996.html

It is the better of the two compilations though, and is a must for those who wish to understand the Brown Sound in a logical progression. A photo of Eddie’s Peavey Wolfgang is in the booklet. Unfortunately, nobody saw the future at the time, which is exactly what this compilation was for.

Peavey Wolfgang

Due to some of the limitations of Eddie Van Halen’s Ernie Ball Music Man EVH Model and the contract ending with Ernie Ball, Eddie decided to pursue Peavey further in his ultimate quest for the perfect sound and tone.

In 1995 Eddie Van Halen and Hartley Peavey worked together placing the finishing touches on a brand new line of guitars for Edward and the result was both unique and amazing simultaneously. The guitar itself was made commercially available in 1996, along with a licenced production of Peavey EVH Wolfgang guitar strings as well. The name was the same name as Eddie’s son Wolfgang Van Halen.

Eddie Van Halen was eager to move on with guitar design and refinement.

Picture courtesy http://olho.nu/van-halen/gear/evh_peavey-guitars.htm

This new guitar was similar in some respects to the previous guitar that Eddie Van Halen had used, yet there were some subtle differences that had made this guitar more unique than the previous one that Eddie had used.

The basic idea of the design was almost identical to the Ernie Ball guitars that Ed had used for some time. Basswood was used for the body, with maple used for the neck and for the body design, a licensed Floyd Rose tremolo and two custom designed and wound EVH/Peavey humbucking pickups, as well as Schaller M6 mini tuners.

Some of the design differences in comparison to the previous Ernie Ball guitars were the addition of maple top and a unique three-way switch placed at the top of the body which was reversed in comparison to regular three way switches typically placed at the same position. Additionally the new Peavey line-up also included, for the first time, a D-Tuner added to the Floyd Rose tremolo system which was not included on the previous line of guitars. A tone adjuster with knob was also added, along with a new uniquely shaped headstock.

In a sadly ironic way Eddie Van Halen endorsed and played the Peavey Wolfgang throughout the worst period of his musical career.

Picture courtesy http://olho.nu/van-halen/news/2005-01-10_evh-parts-with-peavey.htm

The first commercially produced Peavey guitars that were created in 1996 were limited only to the Peavey Wolfgang Standard, which came in six different finishes. The quality of these guitars varied widely due to the difference in quality of the flame maple tops, which later was changed to curly maple tops in a way of remedying the problem of quality of sound output.

A variety of different models were offered over the years. From 1997 to 2004, there were models such as: Wolfgang Standard; Wolfgang Standard Deluxe; Wolfgang Special; Wolfgang Special Deluxe; Wolfgang Special EXP and also Peavey provided a custom shop for those who preferred that sort of service.

The Peavey Wolfgang guitar is an underrated lost piece of history.

Picture courtesy http://johnnyolsa.com/Guitars/

Eddie himself primarily played during this time a Wolfgang Standard with a Tobacco Sunburst style finish. He did play this through both Van Halen tours respectively after production commenced, yet apparently destroyed this guitar on the last show of the 2004 tour.

All Peavey Wolfgang guitars came with a special handbook with a personal statement from Eddie himself about this unique brand of guitar, along with tips for care. Below are some stats of the Peavey Wolfgang:

 

Body:

  • Figured maple top/basswood back or solid basswood construction.
  • Unique offset cutaway design with carved top.
  • Cream or black top-edge-binding.

Neck:

  • Birdseye maple neck and fingerboard, oil-finished.
  • Dual graphite reinforcements and adjustable torsion rod.
  • 25 ½ inch scale length, 22 jumbo frets.
  • 15 inch fingerboard radius.
  • 10 degree tilt-back headstock with 3+3 tuning machine configuration.
  • Bolt-on construction with contoured neck heel.

Electronics:

  • Two custom-wound Peavey/EVH humbucking pickups.
  • Volume and tone controls.
  • Switchcraft® 3-way toggle switch and output jack.

Hardware:

  • Schaller® tuning machines with pearloid or cream buttons.
  • Peavey/Floyd Rose® licensed, double-locking tremolo assembly or tune-o-matic/stop tailpiece fixed bridge assembly.
  • D-Tuner™ (available on tremolo model only).
  • Chrome-plated hardware finish.

In a strangely repressed way and under huge pressure, Eddie Van Halen’s Peavey Wolfgang was one of the most forward thinking designs of guitar yet.

Picture courtesy http://www.rocknrollweekend.com/index2.html

Although Ed ended his contract with Peavey in 2004, if you are seeking this guitar, be sure to look at eBay for various models of this guitar, although it can be rather pricey to purchase a second hand one. Sadly this guitar was strictly produced by Peavey and there are no other real alternatives to finding a guitar quite like it. Once Eddie ceased relations with Peavey, he took his ideas elsewhere and left Peavey with little memory of his involvement with them and Peavey now only produce the 5150 amplifiers (now branded as the 6505 amplifier range) and the guitar strings he used to use. Regardless of this, this guitar is part of the history of the Brown Sound and if you have one today, you are very lucky indeed.

Eddie named the guitar after his son Wolfgang. This clearly meant that the Peavey Wolfgang indeed was special to Eddie Van Halen at the time.

Picture courtesy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfgang_Van_Halen

 

References:

  1. 2015. Eddie Van Halen Guitars and Gear. http://www.groundguitar.com/eddie-van-halen-guitars-and-gear/
  2. Knapp, Geoff. 2006. Wolfgang Guitars – The Unofficial Site of the Wolfgang and HP Special Guitar. http://www.wolfgangguitars.com/
  3. Peavey. 1998. EVH Wolfgang Operating Guide. http://peavey.com/media/pdf/manuals/80301829.pdf

Balance

By the time the middle of the 1990s had arrived, the once powerfully influential Van Halen had come to a messy situation.

Anything was but well in Van Halen in the Balance era.

Picture courtesy http://www.vhnd.com/2015/01/27/20-years-ago-van-halens-secret-gig-in-holland-videos-photos-interviews/

Firstly, trends were changing. As Van Halen were seen as closely stylistically bound to and influential on Hair Metal, that genre had totally vanished from the mainstream. Instead, Grunge had taken over hold of the American Rock market and although Kurt Cobain had committed suicide less than a year before the release of Balance, it was still omnipresent on the radio as such. Other trends from Britain, such as Britpop and various genres of Electronic Music were seemingly out to derail the band.

Secondly, things were not so rosy within the Van Halen camp itself. Fights were now commonplace, although behind the scenes, and Eddie Van Halen had been taken hostage by various demons, namely alcohol. His drinking, along with an increasingly poor relationship with Sammy Hagar were having negative results on the band.

Although it did not seem like it at the time, Eddie Van Halen was beginning to struggle with a full blown alcohol addiction.

Picture courtesy http://www.vhnd.com/2009/03/11/14th-anniversary-of-the-balance-tour/

So in 1994 the band returned to the studio. They had not gigged since the year before, perhaps an indication of how bad things really were for the band. They enlisted producer Bruce Fairbairn to produce the record, and the resulting album was released in January 1995. The name of the album came from the resulting effort of a band that no longer were getting along.

The result was another #1 on the U.S. Album Charts and sold 3 million copies worldwide. Although sonically heavier and more cohesive, many fans believe this album to be weaker than other Sammy Hagar era Van Halen recordings. It was really the beginning of the end of normal band activity by Van Halen.

Van Halen had been through internal issues previously with singer David Lee Roth. The question was how much longer the band could hold things together.

Picture courtesy http://www.pasadena.edu/about/history/alumni/vanhalen/vanhalen.cfm

But how does it sound?

Balance kicks off with “The Seventh Seal”, an interesting sonic pastiche written before Van Halen had a contract. It begins with the freakiest Buddhist chanting you will ever hear, before entering into an okay rock song. Although you can hear that classic riff sounding amazing by Eddie Van Halen’s Ernie Ball Music Man EVH Model and Peavey 5150 amplifiers, it is somewhat lacking as a whole. Sammy Hagar questions spiritual beliefs from the go: ‘Walk me down to the wishing well, help me find that miracle’. But still, although interesting, it sounds rather weak for a song otherwise.

The hit single, “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” is clearly a Sammy Hagar track. It talks deeply about love and sounds very poppy, but in such a way that many older Van Halen fans would certainly not appreciate. Still, not a bad song but overwhelming soppy in relation to its message.

“Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” showed a certain sort of maturity from the band that David Lee Roth era Van Halen were unable to express properly.

Picture courtesy http://tfile.me/forum/viewtopic.php?t=546133

Following up is “Don’t Tell Me (What Love Can Do)”. By this point, the listener could be forgiven for thinking this album would be like an early album by The Beatles, entirely devoted to love songs. Eddie uses his old Marshall here and the difference in tone is barely noticeable, but apart from good riffing, nothing special here.

‘Light ‘em up!’ begins “Amsterdam”, a song for the Van Halen fans, about smoking dope in said city. It is surprisingly a stronger moment on the album, and is definitely worth listening to, as it is rather humourous. A better effort overall.

Quite possibly the worst song on the entire album follows. “Big Fat Money” is all about just that, seemingly proof of the only reason that Sammy Hagar was still remaining in Van Halen at this point. Although pacey, it is rubbish and could have been removed from the album for another, better track.

Although under pressure from shifting trends in music, some of the sounds on Balance are the most forward thinking sounds that Eddie Van Halen had created yet.

Picture courtesy http://2fast2die.com/2011/04/eddie-van-halen-a-front-row-eruption/

“Strung Out”, an instrumental follows that was recorded over ten years earlier for a Valerie Bertinelli (Eddie’s ex-wife) film that Eddie Van Halen recorded some music for. It sounds just like the title, and although not exactly necessary, it makes a welcome change from the loud, heavy rock of the previous songs.

The following song, “Not Enough” refers to the idea that love is simply not enough and was another hit single for Van Halen. In one of the most touching moments of Van Halen Sammy Hagar sings in a very emotional way at the peak of the song, ‘My heart will always be, yours honestly’. It demands listening and is a very touching song, although too soppy for some David Lee Roth fans.

“Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” and “Not Enough” sound like a blueprint from Van Halen that they had planned to visit, but never did.

Picture courtesy http://hairbangersradio.ning.com/video/van-halen-not-enough

“Aftershock” is an okay sort of song. There are some nice elements of guitar work from Eddie Van Halen here, particularly in the intro and the solo as well. However, like the rest of the album, one feels rather unsatisfied while listening through this song.

The first instrumental, “Doin’ Time” finally gives Alex Van Halen an album held instrumental and is musically varied and interesting, although live shows indicated his skills were falling behind younger, more energetic contemporaries. Still, a good effort.

If things had been better for Van Halen, the sonic trajectory that was developed on Balance could have been elaborated on in the future.

Picture courtesy http://www.vhnd.com/balance-tour/

“Baluchitherium” was originally intended to be a proper song, yet the band decided to record it without vocals. It was probably a wise decision and shows off some of Eddie’s skills with reverse guitars, effects and a lot of interesting guitar techniques instead. Quite a fascinating listen.

One of the more underrated songs of “Van Hagar”, “Take Me Back (Déjà vu)” begins with psychedelic wind chimes, leading into an acoustic ballad about memories of good times. A good song and better than many of the other songs on the album, although not a single.

Sammy Hagar and Eddie Van Halen’s relationship deteriorated rapidly from around this era onwards.

Picture courtesy http://www.guitarplayer.ru/old/vanhalen/

“Feelin’” is outro filler and although Eddie Van Halen plays well, this song is really nothing special.

So Balance on balance is rather unbalanced for a Van Halen effort. The band promptly begun touring again in 1995 but before Van Halen began to seriously fall apart. Their issues became public and ugly to all involved, including fans. Still, an okay record that managed to be released before the worst occurred.

Regardless of any band issues, Eddie was still progressing in the search for the perfect sound and tone of his guitar gear.

Picture courtesy https://www.pinterest.com/Jackamino/5150/

References:

  1. Van Halen News Desk. 2015. Balance. http://www.vhnd.com/balance/

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/