Tag Archives: Alex Van Halen

A Different Kind Of Truth

The test had arrived for Van Halen to commence on a path once again with David Lee Roth. Indeed, the band had for the most part, gotten their act together. Being a reunited front with the new line up of David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen and Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie’s son the band had to deliver a new record for the Van Halen fans.

The test came when the record was released in February 2012. However, although on paper the songs were old, leftover rewrites, the record itself is an enjoyable listen, although not exactly a perfect record itself.

Van Halen have got back to work with a renewed and fresh approach to their music.

Picture courtesy http://loudwire.com/van-halen-launch-2012-north-american-tour/

The record begins with the trashy and enjoyable, “Tattoo”. Although the song is enjoyable, it wears out after successive listens. Still, it is way better than anything on Van Halen III, pure proof of the band’s new and more focused direction.

The glorious “She’s The Woman” is a much better song. It starts off with a brilliant guitar part, leading into a loud and catchy tune, with an interesting solo in the midsection. Not bad overall.

The chugging “You and Your Blues” follows, indicating a different side to the band’s repertoire of music. Entertaining and very listenable.

For the new Van Halen record, Eddie Van Halen used the latest in EVH Wolfgang guitars, an EVH USA Wolfgang Stealth which sounds loud and powerful as it does here.

Picture courtesy http://www.evhgear.com/gear/guitars/wolfgang-usa/wolfgang-stealth-ebony-fingerboard-stealth-black-w-case/

The next song, “China Town” is rather awful. In a way it is sort of laughable, but sounds very ordinary indeed. For those who like skipping tracks, you may be best off doing so here.

“Blood and Fire” follows, which is another rather ordinary song with a forgettable chorus. Still it is miles better than anything that Van Halen have recorded since Balance.

The pseudo-thrash of “Bullethead” follows, rather strangely catchy. It is a loud, full on roar of a song. Good listening.

Eddie Van Halen himself is back on track and happier than ever to create new music.

Picture courtesy https://www.celebritydiagnosis.com/people_tag/eddie-van-halen/

“As Is” continues the rather nonsensical lyrics that seem to dominate this album. Indeed, some of the older Van Halen fans may be disappointed by this approach to lyric writing, yet is very musically viable indeed.

The rather boring and forgettable “Honeybabysweetiedoll” makes as much sense as it sounds by the song title, and the song itself. It seems as though Van Halen had put the worst tracks on the first half of this record…

It is fantastic to see Eddie’s son Wolfgang Van Halen part of the Van Halen crew, a remarkably musically talented young man.

Picture courtesy http://www.guitarworld.com/interview-wolfgang-van-halen-talks-bass-different-kind-truth-and-more

Next up, “The Trouble with Never” is a rather good and catchy piece which demonstrates how wonderful and well respected Eddie Van Halen should be considered and deserves every bit of respect for his great guitar skills on it. Not bad at all.

“Outta Space” is obviously a rework, but not a bad one at that. Deeming indeed that the earth is full, it continues the nonsensical slur of lyrics that predominates the album.

The “Ice Cream Man” of this record, “Stay Frosty” is an anti-religious and reveals that in life, one must Stay Frosty in terms of laidback attitude. Starting off acoustically, it becomes a loud and rocking song that is well served.

David Lee Roth and the three Van Halens have successfully buried the majority of issues between each other and work cohesively together as a unit with great success.

Picture courtesy http://www.vhnd.com/2012/02/16/van-halen-allowing-fans-to-shoot-photos-video-at-shows/

“Big River” follows, which is a good rework of one of the songs on the Van Halen Zero demo. With all these wonderful songs here, one must think that the wait for a new Van Halen record was sure worth it.

The last, loudest and heaviest, and most likely, the best song of the album “Beats Workin’” shows Eddie Van Halen at his best. Indeed, those many years of tone chasing per se have proved that EVH himself can create a monstrous and undeniably brilliant sound. Legendary.

As long as their efforts continue with this new approach, Van Halen will continue to survive well into the 21st century.

Picture courtesy https://wallpapersafari.com/free-van-halen-logo-wallpapers/

Overall, the critics all agreed that this was a good, though not great, effort from Van Halen. Indeed, it has been many years between the previous Van Halen III and the A Different Kind of Truth record. Despite all this, it is a solidly good record that shows the future direction of a reworked and re-energised band. Well done.

Cleaning Out The Closet – Van Halen Gets Their Problems Sorted

After the disastrous reunion tour of 2004, Van Halen again went into hiding. Nothing really seemed to change for the once mighty and cohesive group. There seemed to be such a long time where nothing but silence was observed from the group. Barely anything seemed to come out of this.

In 2006, some changes occurred, however. Firstly, Michael Anthony, long time bass player of Van Halen was dumped from the band in favour of Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang. For many older fans in particular, this seemed a criminal move. Why on earth would Van Halen do such a thing?

The renewed Van Halen seemed to once again really understand why they were there for rock and roll in the first place.

Picture courtesy http://www.vhnd.com/2014/09/27/7-years-ago-van-halen-launches-first-tour-with-david-lee-roth-since-1984/

Turns out that from a logical marketing point, it was very clever. Although Wolfgang was only in his teen years at the time, he grew into the role very quickly. To this day, Wolfgang Van Halen has proven an excellent singer and bass player, and has ventured outside of Van Halen musically to do his own thing with other groups quite well. Although neither can be compared to one another, Wolfgang Van Halen perhaps seems more musically active than Michael Anthony ever really was in his own right in Van Halen.

Once this had occurred, the three Van Halens worked on the next idea: David Lee Roth coming back to Van Halen. The question was though, how would it be done?

Strategically driven, Wolfgang Van Halen gave a call to David Lee Roth in 2006 and asked if he would be interested in rejoining Van Halen. After consideration, David Lee Roth said yes and rejoined the group.

Although relations between David Lee Roth and the Van Halens are never perfect, the group of four are happier and more productive than ever.

Picture courtesy http://aarontallent.com/?p=4061

Also, Eddie Van Halen cleaned up his state of mind around this time. Inspired by his young son Wolfgang, he began a fight to overcome his addictions. Although taking one step back in 2007 by visiting a rehabilitation clinic for addiction to a substitute drug for alcohol, Eddie took two steps forward and is now alcohol free and much more focused. He also switched from smoking cigarettes to smoking an electronic cigarette in an effort to clean up.

Eventually by 2007 Van Halen were ready to tour again and did just that. The tour of that year was a critical and commercial success, and gave Eddie Van Halen the chance to test his new Fender prototype gear along the way. This happened with a lot of effort, patience and understanding from the Van Halen fans in particular. But now Van Halen were on a definite up, and never looking back.

Now that Van Halen were working properly once again, they fared very well with their contemporaries in music.

Picture courtesy http://aintitbalenews.com/node/2622/van-halen

 

References:

  1. Eddie Van Halen’s Struggle With Alcohol And Drugs: What’s The Root Cause? 2013. Clarity Way. https://www.clarityway.com/blog/van-halens-struggle/

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

A Reunion?

Nobody knew what really began the Van Halen downward spiral. A series of bad events unnerved the once great band that was Van Halen. It started as early as when David Lee Roth left the band in 1985. Sammy Hagar never really got along with the boys terribly well, although early on they shared some good moments together. Gary Cherone left as it really was becoming far worse than anybody could imagine.

Eventually a call by Alex Van Halen after five years of no lead singer was made to Sammy Hagar. There was no real explanation why so, perhaps money was involved. But eventually Sammy Hagar met the boys at a rather notorious meeting at Eddie’s 5150 studios to sign a contract to release another compilation and to go on tour.

A happy reunion for Van Halen? It was a disaster waiting to happen.

 photo SamandEd2004_zps191369ea.jpg

Picture courtesy http://smg.photobucket.com/user/pt5150/media/SamandEd2004_zps191369ea.jpg.html

Eddie was certainly not in a good frame of mind at this point. Really, for many Van Halen fans, their days had gone. A reunion tour out of the blue did not seem very wise, and turned out to be a disaster.

Although the tour was a financial success, from a musical standing point it was really very bad. The band performed well…except for Eddie Van Halen. Eddie constantly made mistakes and sung off key.

But the worst part was how Eddie looked. He was totally drunk at the time, possibly taking drugs (many people who dislike Eddie personally called him “Meth Eddie” around this time), disheveled with black teeth and truly looked like a Frankenstein like creature. Sadly, for one of the greatest guitarists in living history he had lost it around this time. It was such a transformation that had happened gradually over time: from rock legend to living joke.

Sammy Hagar and Eddie Van Halen are definitely no longer friendly due to the events that occurred on the 2004 Reunion tour.

Picture courtesy http://www.musicradar.com/news/guitars/sammy-hagar-i-dont-see-a-new-van-halen-record-happening-393416

It is no surprise that Sammy Hagar wrote a detailed autobiography after this tour due to the horrific events that occurred during this time entitled Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock aimed squarely at Eddie Van Halen, with some attacks also at Alex Van Halen.

Regardless of the truth or non-truth from either camp, Van Halen were at a terrible stage in their musical career. But once Sammy Hagar left after the last show in Tucson, he and Eddie were never on good terms again. Eddie smashed his favourite Peavey Wolfgang guitar at the end of the show, threw the pieces into the crowd and told the crowd: “You don’t understand. You people pay my rent. I love you people.”

Eddie Van Halen was really messed up at this point.

Picture courtesy http://concertshots.com/vanhalensilvertide604_.htm

Also equally bad was Eddie ending his contract with Peavey in 2004. This was due to breaking contract negotiations with Peavey to sell and market instruments to other corporations, in Eddie’s case, the Charvel Art Series guitars. Also Van Halen had lost their contract with Warner Bros. in 2002 who signed them way back in the late 1970s. Eddie lost his long term wife Valerie Bertinelli in 2001 as well. In general, not a great time for Van Halen.

Still, a compilation with three new songs was released, reminding people of past glories. But Van Halen were still not ready to be a band yet. This part of the Van Halen story will go down in rock history as one of the worst overall. The only way from here was up, however.

The Best Of Both Worlds compilation was the only really good thing to result from the brief reunion.

Picture courtesy http://lyrics.wikia.com/wiki/File:Van_Halen_-_The_Best_of_Both_Worlds.jpg

 

References:

  1. Ultimate Classic Rock. 2015. 11 Years Ago: Van Halen Mount Disastrous Tour With Sammy Hagar. http://ultimateclassicrock.com/sammy-hagar-van-halen-reunion-2004/
  2. Rock News Desk. 2011. Hagar Tried To Quit Van Halen During Disaster Tour. http://rocknewsdesk.com/world-news/hagar-tried-to-quit-van-halen-during-disaster-tour/712/
  3. Van Halen – The Unofficial Very Cool Fan Site. 2015. http://www.vanhalen.8k.com/bio.htm

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.

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/