|Van Halen The Best Of Both Worlds||Warner Music|
This is how not to make a good compilation. Almost every rule in the book has been ignored which despite intentions, makes this look like a rushed cash-in, rather than a tribute to the greatest hard rock band ever.|
Let's get something straight first and foremost. I am a huge Van Halen fan. They are my favourite band and this is not a critique of the majority of music featured within this package. There is no question that the music has stood the test of time and remains some of the best classic party rock (the Dave years) and some of the best more seriously themed rock and ballads (the Sammy Years).
This is a critique of the package itself, the way it has been assembled, the price tag attached and the very reason for its release.
As I stated, I am a huge fan. And I purchased this CD with my hard earned money. And I don't feel satisfied, despite getting an album of 36 "classic tracks".
Some of this review has to do with personal preferences, so I expect reader reviews to vary considerably.
Here goes. I don't think a double disc was necessary. I would have much preferred a companion release to Best Of Volume 1. What's the point of releasing Volume 1, where Volume 2 will never follow? Many tracks have been duplicated here and the price of a 2CD set for something most of us already own elsewhere is a little rich.
I also don't like the track running order. I would have preferred a Dave disc and a Sammy disc - which is what the label originally had intended. The listener can then pick the disc for the mood. And like him or loathe him, Gary Cherone did record an album as singer for Van Halen and it should be represented here – even if it was for just one track. That of course would kill the Best Of Both Worlds theme, but for a 2CD package to be complete, it should be complete!
I also think the liner notes are a kiss-ass waste of space. They are minimalist at best and are written by a representative of a magazine that rated Eddie Van Halen an astonishing #70 in their best 100 guitarist of all time. Holy shit, if not the #1 guitarist ever, he should have at least been top 3. But now here is the same magazine kissing ass, providing liner notes and also praising current concerts with positive reviews when they have all but ignored the band for the last decade. Seems a little odd to me. Anyone else?
The packaging is also very minimalist. No colour pics, a simple foldout booklet and no Dave shots. How about a 24 page colour booklet with archive and previously unseen pics?
Last points before moving to the new studio tracks featured. The sudden cut-off with Finish What You Started and the inclusion of Strung Out in the same track as Not Enough strike me as being mistakes, not intentional tinkering. And the inclusion of three live tracks from Right Here, Right Now is just plain cheap. How many hundred unreleased live recordings exist of the band from any of their amazing eras? Something a little special for the die hard fans picking this package up would have been a nice gesture.
Ok, to the new tracks. I have been enjoying all three and am a big Sammy Hagar fan. I love his work in Van Halen and I absolutely adore Human's Being and felt the band were really heading in an interesting direction with that track.
Sadly everything went awol about that time and we have had to wait 8 years for more new Hagar led Van Halen music. Was it worth the wait? I think so, but I'm not blown away like I was upon hearing Human's Being.
I think these tracks take up where that track left off, but don't take things any further forward. They are good songs, enjoyable songs - but maybe not great songs.
What I do like best is Eddie's guitar playing. There are some really interesting parts within the songs that show that given the chance and the focus, these guys are still very much capable of recording some classic hard rock. I just don't think enough time was put into these particular tracks.
It's About Time is a feel good uptempo rocker with some lyrics that seem a little touchy-feely, without getting to the darker heart of what happened over the last 8 years. Cool riffing though and production wise, all three tracks sound sonically fantastic.
Up For Breakfast features a welcomed 5150 style keyboard intro and a down and dirty Eddie guitar riff that turns into a classic DLR styled boogie. This reminds me of the same vibe Can't Get This Stuff No More was going for on Best Of Vol. 1. But I still have problems getting past Sammy's lyrics. This is not the same caliber of lyric from the man that delivered Right Now, Mine all Mine, Dreams and Don't Tell Me.
Learning To See is probably the best new track. A little more experimental, nice and dark and angst ridden and featuring a killer riff, this track sees the band in a more challenging and emotional state of mind and that really works for me.
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