Tag Archives: Gary Cherone

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.

Chaos in Van Halen – The Beginning of the Singer Revolving Door

It was not a good or easy time for Van Halen in 1996. The pressure within was definitely consuming the once powerful and cohesive group. Although Eddie himself was busy promoting his brand new line up of Peavey Wolfgang guitars to show that he still had the genius and ability to craft wonderful instruments, the truth was that Eddie Van Halen was in an alcohol (and some say drug) induced decline.

All parties involved with Van Halen were running to the media to explain the problems within Van Halen. Unfortunately, Eddie Van Halen was no exception to this.

Picture courtesy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqUJ9Vdjs88

The fact was that Ed and Sammy Hagar did not see eye-to-eye on what Van Halen represented. Different stories have emerged from both parties on what really happened around this time, yet one thing that was certain was that in 1996 Sammy Hagar and Eddie Van Halen had a large fallout after Van Halen indicated that they were seeking to get David Lee Roth back into Van Halen to record some new songs for their first greatest hits album Van Halen: The Best of Volume One. Although this website is about Eddie Van Halen, it is important to cover these issues as well.

Once Sammy Hagar was no longer a part of Van Halen, in an odd stroke of fate, Eddie Van Halen attempted to recruit Mitch Malloy into the band. This was kept top secret at the time and no real leak of what happened did not occur until many years later when Mitch Malloy confirmed that until the MTV Music Awards in that year happened, he was given the green light to be their third singer. He revoked the offer after seeing David Lee Roth with Van Halen on that night.

Mitch Malloy was keen on joining Van Halen around this time until bad things got their way.

Picture courtesy http://wileykoepp.com/2013/12/mitch-malloy-van-halen-replacement-for-sammy-hagar-almost/

Perhaps Eddie Van Halen himself was foreseeing a return to David Lee Roth era Van Halen? Who knows, but what was clear is that they did indeed record two songs for their first compilation with David Lee Roth, ‘Can’t Get This Stuff No More’ and ‘Me Wise Magic’, and both are the most underrated Van Halen songs you will listen to. Still, it was not enough to keep the band going together after the infamous MTV Music Award 1996 Ceremony.

Although stories do differ, what is clear is that David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen did not see eye-to-eye on the fact that Roth wished to be returned as lead singer of Van Halen, but Eddie wanted a more methodical approach. Of course, regardless of any bad blood on either side, the pair fell out and prompted a rethink of a new singer for Van Halen. After the MTV Music Award night, Van Halen were never the same again.

The fact that the entire band were now relying upon the media to express their disgust at what had happened with Van Halen revealed a lack of confidence in any musical project whatsoever involved with them.

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

The band eventually returned to their rehearsals for a new singer. They selected Extreme frontman Gary Cherone, who had not really worked along with Van Halen before and was a new addition to the Van Halen group. By all accounts, Gary was very easy going with the group and although the following record proved he may not have been David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar, he did fit the bill at the time indeed.

Gary Cherone only lasted in Van Halen for three years and sung on the disastrous Van Halen III album, but he seems much more respectful towards Van Halen and what they represent than what Sammy Hagar shows nowadays, strangely. Although he is not suited to Van Halen’s style of music per se, it was what the band needed at the time.

Gary Cherone really did do his best to hold things together in Van Halen.

Picture courtesy http://www.vhnd.com/2015/06/09/gary-cherone-van-halens-tokyo-dome-live-concert/

 

References:

 

  1. Greene, Andy. 2013. Flashback: Van Halen tours with former Extreme singer Gary Cherone. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/videos/flashback-van-halen-tours-with-former-extreme-singer-gary-cherone-20130115
  2. Van Halen News Desk. 2013. How Mitch Malloy Almost Became Van Halen’s Third Singer (Video). http://www.vhnd.com/2013/11/06/how-mitch-malloy-almost-became-van-halens-third-singer-video/
  3. 2013. Van Halen News Story on The David Lee Roth & Sammy Hagar Break-ups – 1998. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etsan65vOqc
  4. Van Halen News Desk. 2013. Gary Cherone Reflects on his Three-Year Stint in Van Halen. http://www.vhnd.com/2013/01/17/gary-cherone-reflects/