Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

March 18, 2010

Van Halen ~ The Best Of ... Vol 1 (hits comp)

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: heavy metal, 80's rock, hard rock
Label: Warner Brothers
Year: 1996
Home: California

Members: David Lee Roth ~ lead vocals
Sammy Hagar ~ lead vocals/rhythm guitar
Eddie Van Halen ~ guitars/keyboards/b. vocals
Michael Anthony ~ bass/b. vocals
Alex Van Halen ~ drums

I remember watching David Letterman every day after school as a young boy in the 80's. This is back before he'd switched networks. If you know what I'm talking about you're showing your age. One afternoon he interviewed Eddie Van Halen, who was then considered the greatest guitar player in the world, climaxed by being on Michael Jackson's chart-topping Thriller. Today few would probably call Eddie the greatest. Influencial, yes. Legendary, yes. A bit odd when it comes to directing the later day career of his band, maybe. I didn't get into Van Halen until later when Sammy Hagar was on board & they released For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (which, if you didn't realize it spells F.U.C.K.). I still remember the video of David in 'Poundcake' playing guitar with an electric drill. Predecessor David Lee Roth was a bit too flamboyant for me & I always liked the more commercial & polished arrangements that came with the Hagar era. Strange enough, I've always seen VH as more a singles band than being the creator of any climactic ground-breaking album. G'N'R has Appetite For Destruction, Black Sabbath has Paranoid ... but what one VH album eclipses all the other albums? The fact that they've had four musical eras based on their three singers (i.e. Hagar, Roth & Gary Cherone) & then the Roth reunion tour doesn't help examine their career for their best music. Luckily, they gave us The Best ... Vol. 1 so we don't have to argue. & VH has a plethora of hits ... & most of them are here. This could easily be the only VH album you ever need to be satisfied. Further, it's in chronological order so you hear a maturing band over two singers & then reuniting with the first to record some new tracks. & no, the new tracks are not detriments to the whole, though they aren't the best parts of the album either. Compilations are not always the best way to get to know a band, particularly for those with long & diverse careers like VH, but this compilation will save you a lot of money buying all their albums & figuring out their career for yourself. Further, a lot of bands rely on the power of the album over all with singles being like songs out of context. I guess it's in their favor that VH doesn't have a ground-breaking concept album. VH knew how to groove, they knew how to rock, they could be simple & straight-forward (i.e. the entire rhythm section) or blisteringly complicated (i.e. any of Eddie's solos), no song sounds alike, they experimented (i.e. the new tracks with Roth) ... but until they get their situation back together square enough for a new studio album this wouldn't be a bad album to have in your collection while waiting. They could easily never do another again, but with this collection you'll always remember them for the killer band the world once recognized them as.

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