VAN HALEN – The Best Of Both Worlds

VAN HALEN - The Best Of Both Worlds


Warner Records
Release date: July 20, 2004

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When Warner Records in 1996 released Van Halen Best Of – Volume I, I have to admit I was expecting that one day would come a Volume II. Instead, the market now gets a double CD with all fourteen favourites from Volume I and 19 others from the 1978 – 1995 era. Additionally, fans get three new tracks with Sammy Hagar on vocals (more about those later).

The Both Worlds means, of course, the two different periods with the two different front men: David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar. Their 3 album from 1998, with Gary Cherone on vocals, is still ignored, even though several tracks on this album (e.g., “One I Want” and “Dirty Water Dog”) were just as interesting as most of the other tracks Van Halen recorded after 1986. Yeah, you heard me … Sammy Hagar sure was (in many ways) a successful replacement for David Lee Roth back in the mid-80’s, but today there simply aren’t a lot of Hagar tracks that have withstood the test of time.

Listen to whatever Van Halen record you want to in the post-Lee Roth era. While the Lee Roth-songs still sparkle and sound in many ways “timeless,” the Hagar tracks sound out-dated and dull. Forget about what “Why Can’t This Be Love” meant to you back in the mid-80’s … admit it … there just aren’t a lot of Van Halen “Best Of” tracks that feature Hagar! Their 5150 album back in 1986, the first with Hagar, was extremely successful, no doubt about it. But seriously, neither this album, nor any of the ones that followed, can justify the release of a “Best Of Van Halen” (with more than 30 of the band’s songs) where Hagar is singing on as many as the half of them!

And now, after years absent, Eddie & Co have reformed the line-up with Sammy. The Best Of Both Worlds gives a foretaste on what’s to come … three new tracks are added, “It’s About Time,” ”Up For Breakfast,” and ”Learning To See” … and they all suck!

When David Lee Roth, the voice of Van Halen’s first six albums, talked to Metal Express exclusively back in February (Click here for streaming audio interview with DLR ) it was obvious that he was ready for a reunion. But we know, due to vast personal differences between Lee Roth and the Van Halens, this will probably never happen … so we can forget about getting the fun back into the band. Instead, we can expect to suffer through more boring Van Halen songs in the times to come.

“It’s About Time” is the first new song on The Best Of Both Worlds. Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing is remarkably characteristic. The riff is heavy and Hagar sure sings great, but the melody line is nothing short of a catastrophe. The song sounds like it has been dug out of the trash can from the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge sessions. It’s over produced and adds nothing to whatever Hagar & Co have done dozens of times earlier.

“Up For Breakfast” is another effort made in the same over-produced way. This is hard plastic, not hard rock. The lyrics are about sex, and it’s all just embarrassing. (/ She put cream in my coffee / early in the morning / She put butter on my biscuit / early in the morning /) Sammy Hagar is trying to be something he is not (David Lee Roth …), and it just sounds wrong. The fun the song tries to convey fails to convince, the whole thing is too constructed.

“Learning To See” is the ballad. This shit song sure has a punchy chorus production, but it’s all so cliche! No substance in sight! It falls like a stone to the floor just like the other 2 tracks. The Hard Rock world is longer just about Eddie Van Halen’s guitar skills. His solos count for nothing as long as he can’t wrap them in good songs. These guys seriously have to get a grip on their direction before they release a new album.

The next track on this collection is “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” from 1978, and now we’re talkin’ about a great song! This one, and masterpieces like “Hot For Teacher,” “Jump,” “I’ll Wait,” and “Dance The Night Away,” — all with Diamond Dave — made Van Halen a band to be remembered as one of the world’s greatest. But “Dreams,” “When It’s Love,” and “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” … give me a break, Sammy!


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