Tag Archives: Sammy Hagar

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: 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.

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/

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/

For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge

The time had come for a new album by Van Halen. Given that their output had diminished somewhat during the Sammy Hagar era, this is one of their better albums of this era and marked a sort of turnaround comeback for the group after three years of fans waiting for the next Van Halen album. The album went to #1 in the United States alone and sold well.

Van Halen were back and ready to rock.

Picture courtesy http://popblerd.com/2012/02/07/discography-fever-van-halen-part-two/

The name came from Sammy Hagar and the original idea was to call it FUCK alone as a protest against American censorship. The idea to call it For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge came after a discussion that Sammy Hagar had with a professional boxer about the history of the profanity and used the proper term as the name of the record.

The prolonged period in which the record was worked on, for about a year, delivered some of the best songs and songwriting from the Sammy Hagar era Van Halen. The band enlisted two producers for the record: Andy Johns and Ted Templeman. It was a strange mixture that delivered a more cohesive sound than the previous Van Halen recording.

The Ernie Ball guitar that Eddie Van Halen designed sings on this album.

Picture courtesy https://www.flickr.com/photos/43908441@N00/4004945510

The record starts oddly, with near silence for the first ten seconds. Then Eddie makes his new Ernie Ball guitar start with “Poundcake” by a power drill placed onto it. This curiously, was done using a Makita drill that was left in the studio to fix Eddie’s Soldano SLO 100 amplifier. The song itself is a great piece of work that talks about an ideal woman for the listener to take in.

“Judgement Day” is next up, which sounds very upbeat, yet has Sammy Hagar talking about inner feelings concerning faith and religion. “Tell me why…should I care or even try?” he asks in relation to this matter. Some of Eddie’s best whammy work is here, and the solo is really good as well.

Surprisingly, although humorous, “Spanked”, or at least this version of it, seems a letdown. It does have some killer vocal work by Sammy Hagar, but falls flat sonically. Despite that, the rhythm work of Michael Anthony and Alex Van Halen sounds very cohesive on this song.

Andy Johns was the main producer of this album and ensured a good effort overall.

Picture courtesy http://www.vhnd.com/2013/04/07/andy-johns-passes-away/

“Runaround” is just awesome. In retrospect, it sounds like a party tune, yet there is a great vocal delivery on the bridge, proving that Sammy Hagar himself is quite an expert vocalist. It certainly was a hit single, and still is a fan favourite.

The biggest let down on this recording is “Pleasure Dome”. Despite this being another showcase for Alex Van Halen, it simply falls flat and does not seem listenable apart from that. It goes well over five minutes and is really only worth hearing once.

Eddie Van Halen was now focusing on his sound down to every individual aspect of its creation.

Picture courtesy https://www.pinterest.com/uberschall/van-halen-whitesnake/

“In ‘N’ Out” follows, which is much better. It talks about wage slavery, and seems pseudo-political. But Sammy and Eddie both keep this song well alive, and it has some really fantastic vocal work from Sammy Hagar, proving that age does not need to destroy a fantastic voice.

“Man On A Mission” is good, but seems nothing too special. But still, the background vocals of Michael Anthony and Eddie Van Halen keep this song going well. Another song about finding the ultimate girl, perhaps the theme of this record.

The next track, “The Dream Is Over” is very underrated. This is what makes the song come more alive upon listening to it today. When the midsection hits, with Sammy Hagar screaming, “It’s a rip off…” you will appreciate the song more. A good effort.

Sammy Hagar really excels all expectations on this recording.

Picture courtesy http://nogonadudyp.hostzi.com/sammy-hagar-eddie-van-halen-pictures.php

One of Van Halen’s most memorable tracks, “Right Now” was a big hit for Van Halen and does still sound moving. Some of the best lyrics from this album are here and it is memorable, and very good indeed.

“316” the instrumental pastiche by Eddie Van Halen is a simple, lovely sounding acoustic piece that Eddie wrote years earlier. Due to the arrival of his then newly born son Wolfgang Van Halen, he devoted it to him on this recording. It does sound very romantic, and is a welcome change from the vocals/guitar/bass/drums of the other songs on the record.

Eddie was still coming up with fresh ways of approaching music.

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

The last track ”Top Of The World” is a definite encore number, using the outro riff from “Jump” as the main riff on the song, although not noticeably so. It sounds positive and makes you feel like the most confident person in the world after listening to it. A very good effort.

So, in retrospect, the album went three times platinum and put Van Halen back into the game. However, from this period onwards, undercurrent issues began to emerge from within the band which would later eat themselves up. But at this point, Van Halen were indeed doing well and had made a great record for their fans to appreciate.

This recording was one of the better recordings of the “Van Hagar” era.

Picture courtesy https://frasesdavida.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/sammy-hagar-ataca-o-van-halen/

References:

  1. Van Halen News Desk. 2015. Sammy Hagar Marks ‘For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge’ Anniversary With Retrospective Video. http://www.vhnd.com/2015/06/18/sammy-hagar-marks-for-unlawful-carnal-knowledge-anniversary-retrospective-video/
  2. Van Halen News Desk. 2013. This Day In 1991: Van Halen Performed “Poundcake” on the VMAs. http://www.vhnd.com/2013/09/05/this-day-in-1991-van-halen-performed-poundcake-on-the-vmas/