Hey, Van Halen Sold A Lot of Records After Dave Left

Mar 28th, 2008 // 14 Comments

AP8210190123.jpgOne of the hardest things to do as a human being is to parse the emotional from the rational part of your brain, especially when it comes to music. No matter how good a band is, if they break up and reform with a different lineup, it is almost quantitatively impossible to prefer the latter incarnation. Van Halen could be the archetypal case, but somehow, Andrew Unterberger breaks down the differences between Van Halen and Van Hagar with a sober clarity often tough to find when dealing with the perverse world of Sammy Hagar, a land in which no one will ever be allowed to drive a mere 55 miles per hour. [Intensities in Ten Suburbs]

  1. Anonymous

    kenny g sold a lot of records too.
    the problem is that dave left just as they were really breaking out of just heavy metal into the big mainstream. there was enough momentum to carry them a few records.
    that’s my opinion at least.

  2. dippinkind

    the fact often overlooked when this topic comes up for discussion is that Van Halen had already started to go downhill before Dave’s departure (Diver Down and 1984, i love you, but compared to the first four albums…)

    and as a side note, something i’ve been saying since 1985 that i think i have the opportunity to say again: DLR should’ve hooked up with Ronnie Montrose when Sammy joined VH.

  3. Dead Air ummm Dead Air

    Trick question! Lemmy is God!

  4. MickFNS

    Iron Maiden might be a better example. Paul D’Anno was the first voice of Maiden; but I doubt any fans (except D’Anno relatives) could successfully argue in favor of Paul over Bruce Dickinson. Maiden made a huge splash during the NWOBHM, but they never would have achived the iconic success they have without Dickinson.

    Dippinkind, you must be even more of die-hard VH fan than I am (or thought I was);
    I never thought they were flagging on Diver Down or 1984 and saw those – even then – as the natural progression of their music keeping up with/ahead of the times. DD was recorded, mostly, while they were out on a huge world tour pretty much to keep the record company happy. And 1984 was as fresh and exciting as anything when that came out, as I recall. “Drop Dead Legs’ and “Top Jimmy” were guitar blasts that still outshine almost anything going today… but I always thought DLR’s “Eat ‘Em & Smile” was more of a VH record than anything they did after 1984. He did the right thing- he just should have kept doing it. If this VH thing really does implode, Roth should get that solo lineup together, because it was terrific (at least for one record).

    I don’t know what to make of anyone who defends Sammy-era VH, though. Nice guy, like some of his work… and it IS apples and oranges, but still… Jesus.

  5. FionaScrapple

    I disagree that 1984 marked a “downhill” trend for Van Halen. In many respects, it’s not just the pinnacle of what VH achieved, it’s the pinnacle of what rock music in the 80′s achieved.

    The album is that good.

  6. dippinkind

    @MickFNS: well i don’t know about as fresh as exciting as anything, Ride The Lightning did come out in 1984 too. i just think compared to the first album or Fair Warning they’d gotten a little lighter and slicker. But again, i do love Diver Down and 1984 very much.

  7. PeterBjorn&Yawn

    The Diamond Dave era sucks slightly less than the Hagar era, which sucks way less than the Cherone era. They all suck. Get over it.

  8. Anonymous

    @dippinkind: In spite of my general dislike for just about any Sammy Hagar project, the first Montrose album rocks fucking house.

  9. dippinkind

    @StuntKockSteeev: TRUE. Rock the nation… though Sammy still sounds a little too constipated for it to reach its ideal rocking potential

  10. revmatty

    The problem with 1984 is that it’s so heavily associated with “Jump” that a lot of the good stuff on it gets forgotten. I will note that Skyscraper was DLR’s 5150.

  11. Clevertrousers

    Feh. Van Halen was always just date-rape rock for coked-out meatheads. Total crap.

  12. natepatrin

    @Clevertrousers: Dude with a Hitler cat icon talking shit about the greatest Jew-fronted rock band of all time*? I don’t like where that’s headed.

    *well OK fine, maybe T. Rex

  13. westartedthis

    yer god damn right, maybe T. Rex.

    you know, it embarrasses me to admit it, but as a kid Van Hagar was my first experience with the band (For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge era) so it was a few years before i knew the singer from Van Halen hadn’t always been the same guy.

  14. AcidReign

        I think all Van Halen albums since the first have been lesser things.

        You have to remember, back when it came out, the big 4 were Led Zep, Aerosmith, Nuge, and ZZ Top. Zep was becoming a keyboard band as Pagey stuck needles in his arm. Aerosmith likewise was burning out. Nuge was huge, but it was cartoon rock. ZZ Top was getting into the plinky Roland Jazz-chorus guitar sound. The Bee Gees and Donna Summer were ruling the charts.

        Along came VH-I. LOUD. Mean. Raw. “Runnin’ with the Devil!” These guys can play! Then, “Eruption.” There are not enough OMFG’s in internet parlance to describe how much we were blown away! The whole rest of side one was a rollercoaster trip of amazing histrionics!

        The next two albums were lesser things. There were teases of greatness, but then they’d spoil the moment with oddities like “Spanish Fly,” the accoustic version of “Eruption.” Then there was the ridiculous “Cradle will Rock” thing where Eddie plugs an electric piano into one of his brown-sound, wanked out amps. And the early VH albums were SHORT, maybe a little over 30 minutes, total.

        “Fair Warning” got back close to the original, with less cute and more rock, but “Diver Down” had maybe two real “Van Halen songs,” and lots of wacky cover stuff like “Big Bad Bill” and “Pretty Woman.” Roth BUTCHERED the Orbison classic…

        I went out and bought “1984″ the first day it was out at the record store. I put it on, and out of my speakers… I thought they had messed up and put a Ric Ocasic/Cars disk in there by mistake. What the HELL was this crap?!? Yes, there turned out to be some redeeming moments in that record (“Hot for Teacher,”"Panama”), but all the blatty synth stuff was NOT cool, to me!

        When “5150″ came out, you heard the single on the radio. Just like Loverboy, just like Night Ranger, like Journey. Yes, EVH would still stick a few noodlie guitar bits in, but we now had radio-ready vocals, banks of keyboards, and the guitar sound was muted and sanitized. I kept checking VH out, but the “loud guitar-driven rock” aspect was missing till the “Balance” LP, in the early 1990s. The growl was back, the indulgent playing, the flange… Then van Hagar was over. Biggest problem with Sammy Hagar as a vocalist? No male over 13 can sing along. Not that high. We’re all still mad at him over that, even as we approach the AARP age!

        I enjoyed the VH-III disk. It was nice to hear Eddie playing a lot of different styles and sounds, with an actual lyricist worked in there. Finally, Van Halen had grown past stuff like “Ever-buddy wants SUMMMM!” And the CD-buying public didn’t care…

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