Tidal Catalog #34: Six Degrees of Van Halen

Introduction: For those of you that have stumbled across this website and are interested in reading about my trek through the universe of the Tidal streaming service, let me tell you a bit about what I did. Back in 2016 I thought it would be kind of cool to listen to an artist’s catalog from start to finish and rank them from best to worst. After all, who doesn’t like a good list? I thought I might do a few of them and see what happened, hoping it would introduce me to records that were foreign to me in the arsenal of an artist I was familiar with. I also thought that it would be pretty cool to get out of the “one off” mode of listening to a new record, years after the previous one, in order to get a true sense of how the artist matured over time. Fast forward to June of 2019 and 250 catalogs later, I ended the trek. I posted these all on Facebook over the years as they were completed but I’m going to move them all over here, starting with #1, in order to expand them out a bit more. Facebook doesn’t exactly allow for too many details.

As with all my catalogs, to be considered in the ranking, an album has to meet certain criteria:

  • The artist must actually perform on 80% of the tracks (soundtrack and rap provision)
  • No compilations of previous released material will be included.
  • However, compilations of previously recorded material will be included if they are remixes, bonus tracks, outtakes… mostly music that hasn’t been part of a main release before.
  • The album must have been released officially and within the realm of the label that the artist would have been on at the time or official releases posthumously (normally applies to a slew of live records)
  • Any EPs must contain new new music and be relevant to the catalog, not be more like a single with a b-side or two.
Alex Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen, David Lee Roth and Michael Anthony (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

Editors note: The original Van Halen post a few years ago on Facebook was just Van Halen’s catalog but I’ve decided to do something different for this one since I keep reading articles about David Lee Roth’s solo tour. I’ve decided to re-do this one completely and expand it into a six degrees of Van Halen catalog. Since I’m expanding it so much, I’m going to scrap the original rankings and start from scratch listening the Van Halen records, followed by the albums from other members of the group. We’ll call this a Super Deluxe Re-issue. Haha.

Entrance Point: Well, I had listened to all of Van Halen’s records, DLR’s and Sammy’s 80s albums at least and then had followed Sammy forward slightly, listening to the Chickenfoot records. And I knew Extreme’s first three albums, so I knew enough going into this.

Included:

  • All Van Halen records
  • All David Lee Roth solo records
  • The DLR band
  • All of Sammy Hagar’s solo records
  • Sammy’s two records with Montrose
  • Sammy’s album as Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve
  • Sammy’s records with the Waboritas
  • Sammy and Michael Anthony’s records with Chickenfoot
  • Sammy and Michael’s records with The Circle
  • Gary Cherone’s records with Extreme
  • Gary’s record with Tribe of Judah
  • Gary’s solo EP
  • Gary’s records with Hurtsmile
  • Wolfgang Van Halen’s albums with Tremonti

Not Included: Wolfgang is credited on an album by a dude named Clint Lowrey as playing “additional drums.” I really don’t know what that means or how many tracks he’s on so I’m leaving it off. If I find out he played drums on the whole damn thing, then I’ll listen to it and add it in later.

All albums ranked on a 10 point scale:

  • Montrose – Montrose (9.5)

What an absolute beast of a record. The debut Montrose record was the first thing Sammy had really done and what a start. It’s called heavy metal in some realms and it’s pretty close to it even in 1973. There’s a ton of really heavy tunes on this record from “Rock the Nation” to “Bad Motor Scooter” and “Make It Last.” But “Rock Candy” is a stone cold classic heavy rock song. What makes me kind of sad in the end is that in this catalog of bands and artists that are all still making music today, that an album released 46 years ago is the best one in this list.

  • Van Halen – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (9.5)

In my original post, I had this on the top and upon re-doing this one I thought that maybe I was crazy at the time. No way could I really like this more than the classic DLR records. But it’s held up well. This was the first album where I feel the band wrote to the strengths of Sammy, rather than the strengths of Van Halen and who gives a damn who’s singing the tunes. This 1991 album is consistently good from start to finish and unlike the 80s albums with Sammy, the melodic tunes are less keyboard driven and more rock oriented. That make this album less cheesy, for sure. And of course, I say that with “Right Now” being the big hit. But that’s a piano based tune, with rock mixed in, not processed keyboard sounds. That was certainly a risk that paid off well for the band in the end. And it’s near the end of the record as well, showing that they weren’t quite sure about it at the start but “Right Now” followed by the cool “316” instrumental bringing it back to the big rock anthem “Top of the World” to end the record, leaves you on a high note and wanting more – what every great record should do.

  • Sammy Hagar and the Waboritas – Red Voodoo (9.5)

I have to admit that I didn’t even know this album existed (or frankly, what Sammy Hagar and the Waboritas even were) coming into this. I don’t know how Sammy completely dropped off my radar at any point but he did. And I suspect he did with many others as well and because of that, Sammy went a different route here. This was released in 1999 when Sammy Hagar surely didn’t make music for the radio and I wonder if at some point he told himself to stop forcing singles onto records and just have fun. This record contains songs about Tequila, girls and hot sauce aka the Sammy Hagar trifecta! This was also the first of four records to have a consistent band and maybe that made a difference as well. This record is just simply a fucking blast to listen to – loud, fun and rock n’ roll through and through. Though “Mas Tequila” really sounds like a commercial for his Cabo Wabo brand, the rest doesn’t appear to be made for radio and thus, Sammy’s vocals sound at free and fun as they ever did. I am fully shocked this record is so damn good.

  • Van Halen – Another Kind of Truth (9)

2012. Fourteen Years after their last record, 28 years after their last with David Lee Roth and yet somehow, someway, Van Halen, now back with DLR, released one of the best albums of their career. Even if you were a die hard fan, you had to be shocked at the quality of this record. Now at the time of release, I didn’t know these were all older tracks that simply needed to be finished off but that makes a lot of sense now, since most of these songs sound like modern takes on early 80s Van Halen. And it’s really awesome to hear the electric voice of Diamond Dave having a blast on these songs. If they would have cut off the last three tracks and made this a ten song record rather than 13, it might have gotten a perfect 10 from me but even so, songs like “Tattoo” and “Honeybabysweetiedoll” show off not only the really rockin’ side of the band but the fun aspect of their sound as well. It ends up making you really wonder what else is out there that the band could finish up and release.

  • Van Halen – Balance (9)

Another Van Hagar record near the top? Yep, that’s me, the asshole that thinks the last two Hagar records and the final David Lee Roth record with Van Halen are the three best releases from the group. But it’s true. Balance is another great record with little to no filler. Critics like to look back and say it’s dull, the sound of a band that doesn’t care because they are about to break up and blah blah blah. But fuck all the noise. Like F.U.C.K., Balance has an abundance of rock songs that truly do rock and aren’t pop songs that you have to struggle to find the rock in. Sure, granted that “Wham bam, oh Amsterdam” (“Amsterdam”) is probably the lyric that broke the band up as you can read all about how Eddie hates that fucking song and has some clear animosity towards Sammy for putting that to tape but the song itself is still pretty good. And though I give “Right Now” credit for being a single that really stands out in the catalog, I still think “Can’t Stop Loving You” is the best hit single of the Hagar era even if Eddie looks like he wants to be anywhere but there during the video. Overall, whatever problems the band had at the time, I don’t hear it in the record and I truly believe that if you do, you’re trying too hard.

  • Van Halen – Van Halen (8.5)

The Van Halen catalog was a tough one for me and unfortunately began right with the first record. This is a classic, right? A full blown masterpiece of rock music according to virtually all critics. But wait. See, this is the thing – I’m reviewing these records as whole bodies of work, not based off a few tracks or impact, influence or whatever else. Just a full record for what it is. And that’s where I have a problem. If I was just listening to the first half of this record, “Runnin’ with the Devil” “Erupton” “You Really Got Me” “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” “I’m the One” and then even the first song on the flip side, “Jamie’s Cryin'” then yes, brilliant record. But those B-sides that were most of the flip side of the record, simply aren’t that good. “Feel Your Love Tonight” is cheesy and “Little Dreamer” and “On Fire” just don’t get anywhere close to the standards of all the singles from the record.

As far as the singles go though, I mean damn, Van Halen knew how to write a tune right from the start. But it’s interesting now in 2020 to listen to “Runnin’ with the Devil” – as if you’ve heard the now famous DLR isolated vocal track, you can’t get his vocal gymnastics out of your head as you listen to it. Every time I’m with anyone and the song comes on, the immediate focus is put on his crazy ad-libs, which is pretty awesome but I also wish I could go back to a time where I didn’t isolate them in my mind.

  • Extreme – II Pornograffitti (8.5)

I’ve always been torn about this record, the second from Extreme and the one that put them on the map. It’s the rare record that in my mine is fantastic but still has big flaws. The funk metal is in full force on Pornograffitti with songs like “Decadence Dance” “Lil Jack Horny” and especially one of the best songs of the funk metal push of the late 80s and early 90s, “Get the Funk Out.” Clearly the band and the label wanted to push this side of the band as the former and latter songs were the first two singles. But it really wasn’t until “More Than Words” was released as the third single that the band blew up and let’s face it, that’s what they are known for today. It changed the trajectory of the band for damn sure but it’s so incredibly out of place on this album. It’s not like a hair/funk metal band never did a ballad before but this was kind of an extreme case (see what I did there?) and sequenced as track 5, right after “Get the Funk Out” is a terrible place for it on the record. It should have closed the disc. There’s also the lounge song, “When I First Kissed You” and the fourth single “Hole Hearted” that don’t fit with the sound of this disc as all. “Hole Hearted” is at least close as it’s an acoustic tune which still is a bit funky but even so, with how long the disc is, it wasn’t even included on the LP. I’m ranking it this high because even though the two hit ballads sound terrible in context of the record, they are both great songs and the rest of the album is amazing. I just can’t go any higher due to the jolting sequencing issue of “More Than Words.” Yes, I’m really picky on run order.

  • Tremonti – Cauterize (8.5)

Cauterize is the second album from Tremonti – the band led by Creed and Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti. They have four records total and the second and third feature include Wolfgang Van Halen on bass, having joined the band to tour after their first record. Wolfie sounds very strong here – as the bass stands out a bit more in this group than it does in Van Halen. I had never bothered with Tremonti as any extension of Creed really wasn’t on my radar but I’m truly surprised how heavy this is. It’s billed as a metal record and well, it might be some kind of metal – maybe Alt. Metal at best. It’s definitely a really heavy rock record with elements of thrash metal in it. But it’s got more of a Slipknot radio ready metal sound than true metal bands. That said, it’s well written and both filled with hooks and riff forward. Certainly heavier than anything Creed or Alter Bridge has done.

  • Sammy Hagar – Standing Hampton (8.5)

I have to think this is the record that convinced Van Halen that Sammy Hagar was right for the job. This is still 1982, so a few years before he would join the band but with a sound that you could easily see coming from the group with a few tweaks here and there. Sammy’s 80s output gets shit on by critics and it’s far from perfect but Standing Hampton is the best one of the bunch and the one record where pretty much everything came together for him. There’s the melodic hit “I’ll Fall In Love Again” and the rock hit “There’s Only One Way To Rock” which start the record off as well as any record he’s done. There’s another song about Heavy Metal (um, “Heavy Metal”) that isn’t actually metal (he has a few of these) and even a great cover of “Piece of My Heart” to close the record. It’s not perfect but it’s very listenable.

  • Van Halen – 1984 (8)

“I got my pencil!” Hell man, after Diver Down, I’m amazed that Van Halen had this in them. But “Jump” “Hot For Teacher” and especially the vicious rocker “Panama” were some of my first memories of rock music growing up and man, have they been playing 12 million times since that point. 1984 was really the first record from Van Halen that actually sounded like it was made in the 80s, even though the previous three were. Now of course, apart from the very end of Fair Warning, this is really where the synthesizer was introduced into their music and set them on the controversial path moving forward. That also pushed Dave out the door as he didn’t like the direction, despite this album selling 10 million records and being the biggest of their career. So why an 8/10? Just like Van Halen I, when you have songs as fucking masterful as the singles from this were, the non-singles tend to pale in comparison and they do here, back to feeling like a bunch of filler. “Class dismissed!”

  • Van Halen – Women and Children First (8)

At only nine tracks, with one being a short instrumental, you have a concise, really hard rockin’ album, the first without what I would consider a filler track and no cover songs. While the debut album gets higher marks than this because those singles are just so fuckin’ good, Women and Children First was the most consistent of the first three in my mind. “And the Cradle Will Rock” and “Everybody Wants Some!!” are just beasts and my lord, the riffing in “Loss of Control” is fucking insane. This record sounded different than the first two discs and that went a long way for me in ranking this one.

  • Extreme – Extreme (8)

So yes, you might question why I’m including Extreme here and going backwards for Gary Cherone when he was in Van Halen for a hot minute but why not? What’s a few more albums, right? And I always thought Extreme was a decent band anyway, so I kind of wanted to go back and listen to them again. And this, the debut record in 1989, wasn’t the album that put the band on the map but certainly shows promise. Based on the long hair and Gary’s yellow shirt on the cover art, this was billed as glam metal and there might be elements of that but I wouldn’t call these guys glam metal here. There’s a little hair metal, there’s some funk metal and some bluesy rock ‘n’ roll – so let’s just call them a rock band. And the record does actually rock. It seems a bit immature looking back with songs like “Rock a Bye Bye” “Teacher’s Pet” and “Mutha (Don’t Wanna Go To School Today)” but I guess that’s what Gary wanted to write about at the time. Cherone stands out here as a pretty great vocalists and the world’s first taste of Nuno Bettancourt’s greats riffs are worth the price of admission along but it was also kind of funny going back and listening again to “Mutha” which I didn’t remember started off sounding like a Van Halen clone. It was only the opening intro and riff (surely ripped off from “Unchained”) but man, there’s no way Eddie didn’t think of that when trying to find their third singer.

  • Tremonti – Dust (8)

The third album from Tremonti and second and final one with Wolfgang on bass, is very much like the first. It kind of feels like it was just a double disc released a year apart though the metal songs might be a little thrashier and the non-metal songs might be a little more melodic. It’s those more melodic songs that aren’t necessarily as good here as they were on Cauterize and really, while that record was really good and this has great moments as well, it’s nothing that moved the band forward at all.

  • Montrose – Paper Money (8)

While the second Montrose record, Paper Money, was a very good record, it’s also very different from the debut. The debut was a rock / metal beast that hit you over the head from the first note to the last. There’s no way this record could be called metal in any fashion. It’s a rock record but there’s quite a few mellow tracks on here, in fact more mid-tempo tracks to straight ballads than rock tunes. The songwriting itself is top notch but the energy from the debut isn’t here. Hagar and Ronnie Montrose’s relationship went downhill during the tour for this record and that’s when Sammy left to do his solo stuff.

  • Sammy Hagar & the Circle – At Your Service (8)

The Circle was formed in 2014 by Sammy, originally as a super touring group. Consisting of longtime pal, Vic Johnson, Michael Anthony and then Jason Bonham on drums, this live album consists of songs throughout Sammy’s career in Montrose, Van Halen and solo songs as well as four Zeppelin songs. Sammy pulls off the Zeppelin songs nicely, surely better than he did with the studio mashup with the Waboritas years ago. Overall, it’s a pretty solid live record that nicely captures the energy of a great group of musicians.

  • David Lee Roth – A Little Ain’t Enough (8)

The best DLR solo record is a bit of a funny one in the end because A Little Ain’t Enough really was the album that people stopped paying much attention to him. The album tanked, the videos got banned by MTV for having sexy ladies in them and the ensuing tour was cancelled due to lack of ticket sales which was even worse because they paid for Bob Rock to produce the record, so this probably lost money in the end. It sounds like a David Lee Roth record, rock tunes, super sexy lounge tunes and the vocals of a man clearly having fun. But that was the problem in the end. This was 1991 and grunge was hitting, meanwhile DLR is putting out the same music he did six years ago. It just didn’t fit any longer. But I’m not listening for fit here. I’m listening for quality and while not perfect, songs like “Lady Luck” and “40 Below” are damn fine. I see very little reason to ever pull this album back out to listen to on a whim but for this, it’s his best.

  • Sammy Hagar and the Waboritas – Livin’ It Up (8)

The fourth and final album he did with the Waboritas band is completely different from the first three and couldn’t be more of a polar opposite of the first one. Livin’ It Up is a laid-back, drinking-tequila-on-the-beach type record – I equate this sound to someone like Kenny Chesney – barefoot in the sand music. Your enjoyment of this is likely based off of what kind of music you want to hear from Sammy. Do you want to hear rock? Well, it’s not here. Do you want to lounge back on the beach and have some chillin’ music? Then in this catalog, you’ve got your record here. I was skeptical simply based on the covers of Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 & #35” and a weird choice of “I Love This Bar” by Toby Keith but they work in this context and the album is very consistent. In other, far superior catalogs this might not be so high but in Sammy’s, it’s one of the better ones.

  • Van Halen – Van Halen II (7.5)

Well, if the debut had flaws and this is a very similar record, then this one has flaws as well. Once of those flaws it has no singles quite like any of the ones on the first record. “Dance the Night Away” is a good but not great track as the main single but certainly had a lighter feel than the focus tracks on the debut. But it also was kind of a precursor for what would come in the future. In retrospect, the later 80s tracks with Sammy Hagar don’t sound terribly different than this track (with the addition of the keys of course). “Somebody Get Me a Doctor” is a monster of a rock song but one that wasn’t catchy enough to stand the test of time amongst so many great true hits songs. That said, I wish “Bottom’s Up!” would have been a single as to me, that’s the gem of this album. This album was recorded less than a year after the debut was released and the band barely had enough songs for the first record – so while this has many fine points, overall I think it’s a rushed album and had the band taken a little longer some of the filler again on the flip side of the album, could have been replaced with some better songs.

  • Van Halen – Fair Warning (7.5)

Fair Warning gets a bit of a bad rep due to the fact that it only had one memorable single in “Unchained.” While it’s not nearly as fun a record as the previous three, it’s very well written and showcases Eddie’s guitar chops more than anything else. “Mean Street” and “Dirty Movies” are a nice 1-2 punch to open the disc, even if the start ended up not being as memorable as other records. But a dull “Push Comes to Shove” and oddball end track, “One Foot Out the Door” as well as the lack of memorable tunes made this the worst album they had made through their first four.

  • David Lee Roth – Eat ’em and Smile (7.5)

I really wish I liked this record more than I do. Roth’s vocals are out of this world and at this point his band consisted of Billy Sheehan on bass and Steve Vai on guitar – and this may be the best thing Vai has done. Check out his guitar work on “Shyboy” to hear a great example. The rock songs sound very Van Halen-ish, there’s just no way around that. And then Roth tosses in some lounge tunes, which he of course had hits with the style right before this on the EP I’ll talk about below. But those lounge tunes are what don’t work for me on this record. 30% of this album is covers and while “Tobacco Road” was a rock song, both “I’m Easy” and the minor hit, “That’s Life” just weren’t needed. The band was so strong that I wish they would have just focused more on getting 12-13 real rock songs out of Vai instead of seven.

  • David Lee Roth – Crazy from the Heat EP (7.5)

Crazy from the Heat was a four song covers EP released while he was still in Van Halen but alas he would quick a few months later. Tough to rank a 4-song covers album with the rest of these works but it does contain two of his best known solo songs, “California Girls” and “Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody” which are great tunes and the latter started DLR on his lounge rock kick. Frankly, I’d buy a full length album where he does nothing but lounge tunes. It’s a style he’s suited for and it worked nicely. But this small moment in time can’t be ranked above any really decent full length record.

  • Extreme – Waiting for the Punchline (7.5)

The fourth and final record of the original era of Extreme, Nuno Bettencourt left for a solo career that went nowhere and then Gary Cherone joined Van Halen. But before they left, they cranked out a hard rockin’ record, somewhere between rock and grunge. It’s a record that I do dig quite a bit for how heavy it tends to be and while they incorporated a lot of grunge, they didn’t lose all of the funkiness either. The record went nowhere though and had no hits as it simply didn’t fit with anything on the radio, so can’t fault the band for splitting up.

  • Sammy Hagar – Danger Zone (7.5)

“20th Century Man” and “Love or Money” are good enough songs but really, this is an album of average material and had no real potential for hit songs. Again, an album that’s good enough to warrant a listen but that’s it.

  • Sammy Hagar and the Waboritas – Ten 13 (7.5)

Boy, after Red Voodoo, I was expecting another great record with the same Waboritas band on that record but it’s not here. Thus the plight of Sammy’s career, one record really good, one record really average, one record really bad, rinse, repeat. The album starts off nicely with the rockers “Shaka Doobie” and “Let Sally Drive” and the kind of psychedelic “Serious Juju.” But everything else on the record is middle of the road rock music, nothing to make any other track stand out.

  • Extreme – III Sides to Every Story (7)

I read that this was a fan favorite of the band but it doesn’t do a lot for me. First, at 81 minutes, it’s really way too long but it also removed a lot of the funk that made the band great for me in particular. The album is separated into three sections, “Yours” which contains the heavier rock tunes, “Mine” which contains softer songs and “The Truth” which contains 22-minute three song progressive rock suite. It’s like three different bands but at least I can see how the first two parts go together. Adding on the progressive elements at the end were interesting at least but pretty dull from a technical perspective. Overall, it’s got decent elements to it for sure but it’s scattered and way too long. Not exactly the best way to follow up your breakthrough album.

  • Sammy Hagar – Musical Chairs (7)

Musical Chairs was released in 1977 as Sammy’s third album and second that year. After listening to the first two albums, I was starting to wonder what Van Halen saw in Hagar that make them think he was a fit for the band. But Musical Chairs is where it all started coming together for him. His voice matured on this album, to the point where it sounds like the Sammy Hagar that you know now and it’s likely because this is the first truly rockin’ album in his catalog. The blistering “Turn up the Music” really sets the tone for the entire record, it’s then followed by a “It’s Gonna Be Alright” which leads off with a keyboard intro before turning into his most melodic rock tune at that point. Just these two tunes alone show you where 5150 and OU812 came from. It’s not strong all the way through but it showed enough promise in the end.

  • DLR Band – DLR Band (7)

After Van Halen went with Gary Cherone for their singer, David Lee Roth decided to form a band on his own, which featured Ray Luzier on drums and John 5 on guitar. Now when I hear John 5 is in a band, I think Marilyn Manson like industrial riffage but that’s not the case here. The album is made up of Van Halen like riffs and tracks, which was a conscious fuck you to his former band. This is a sleazy DLR record about chicks, man. At 14 songs it’s too long to sustain full interest over the course of the record but it’s got some real fun tracks on it.

  • Sammy Hagar & Friends – S/T (7)

So this is an album that I also had no idea existed even though it only came out seven years ago (2013). And it came out on Frontiers, one of my favorite labels where old rockers go to die (er, revive hair metal, er… their careers). The “friends” portion of this is a bit all over the map from his band The Waboritas (which, I mean, is kind of cheating here) to Kid Rock, Chad Smith, Neil Schon (again, cheating a bit), Ronnie Dunn, Toby Keith and Nancy Wilson among others. With that, it’s a bit like what you might expect, a little scattered with different styles – mostly mid-tempo rock numbers, a weird cover of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” and a bad cover of “Margaritaville.” This is another one of these records in Sammy’s catalog that is listenable for sure but it kind of is what it is.

  • David Lee Roth – Skyscraper (7)

I hate the fact that the second full length from DLR isn’t even as good as the first. Especially after such promised with Steve Vai rippin’ it up on the first record. The album is solid enough with Roth’s best rock single in “Just Like Paradise.” But just like Van Halen, this record added a bunch of keyboards into the mix and I think at this point what you would have hoped is that DLR would have went the heavier route instead. And I wish the record wasn’t produced by Roth himself. Vai’s guitars aren’t nearly as prominent as they should have been and the difference in sound quality from one song to the next varies too much. I’m listening digitally to everything but pulled out the vinyl on this one to make sure and those imperfections are still there.

  • Sammy Hagar – Marching To Mars (7)

Marching to Mars was Sammy’s first solo record after parting with Van Halen and he took a different approach to this record. First, there were different musicians on every track from Slash to Matt Sorum to Huey Lewis and Bootsy Collins. Secondly, the album seems like a much more “mature” effort, with an emphasis on songwriting more this time around. Most of the tracks are pretty mid-tempo songs – very few rockers and very few pure ballads but more steady middle of the road pop-rock tunes. Nothing super catchy and nothing super awful either but very little about booze and chicks. It’s good enough to listen to but not good enough to have future spins.

  • Sammy Hagar – Three Lock Box (6.5)

Another pretty dull solo record from Hagar as it even starts off with no energy on the slog of a title track. It does contain his biggest solo hit (at least by chart position) with “Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy” but past that, there’s once again absolutely nothing that stands out. This was still back in an era where a lot of artists really cranked out material and this is his 7th record in his six years as a solo artist. I really wish he would have just taken a few years off between records and then taken the best tracks and given us one record. There’s a nearly perfect record somewhere in this slew of tunes but no actual album ever gets there.

  • Van Halen – Live Right Here, Right Now (6.5)

One of the problems with a Van Halen live record is that you’re never going to get all the hits, which kind of makes any live record they do, somewhat incomplete. That said, it’s interesting that on this one, which was on the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge tour, Sammy does sing a handful of DLR tunes like “Panama” and “Jump” as well as a couple of the covers from that area (so can you really say he’s singing Roth songs on those, when they weren’t original?) And surprisingly there are a couple of Hagar solo tracks on here as well. And with this, you quickly see why they don’t go back to DLR era much. Sammy didn’t pull these tracks off well at all. But the album really centers about F.U.C.K. as they played 10 of the 11 songs on the record and those tracks sound pretty solid here but… are they live? And that has been the big controversy with this record. It seems that it’s sort of live with the band going back into the studio afterwards and overdubbing. Frankly, it does sound pretty clean for a live record but I also never saw Van Halen live to know how they sound. The other piece of this that doesn’t quite work well for me is when they chose to play the keyboard driven singles of the 80s – or at least where they are put on the record. They don’t flow very well coming in and out of the current album’s material and frankly, I know the band has to mix it up a bit but it would have sounded better with a big chunk of those older hits back-to-back instead. As I’ve noted before, I’m not a big live album fan because they never capture the right energy and in my original VH post on Facebook, I had this record much lower due to that rumor of the overdubs but I’m softening my stance on that one a bit and just kind of listening to the album for what it is and not what it might be.

  • Chickenfoot – Chickenfoot III (6.5)

The second and so far, last Chickenfoot record, probably wasn’t needed. Same band, same sound, same subdued vibe that you expect to really rock out but never quite does. The only real exception is the great summer driving song, “Big Foot” which is a blast. It’s probably the only song on either Chickenfoot record that’s worth saving in a playlist and listening to over and over again.

  • Chickenfoot – Chickenfoot (6)

Well, this is a group that I really wanted to love but it just doesn’t work. Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony, Joe Satriani and Chad Smith – big names in rock but like trying to fit the square peg into the round hole. Sammy wants to have fun, Satriani plays a more serious, tight style, Chad Smith is caught in between and well, Michael Anthony is as usual, just sort of there. The first single is a great example of that, where “Oh Yeah” slugs along when the title seems to indicate there should be a party happening. And then there’s stupid Hagar songs like “Soap on a Rope,” which every album has to have. The talent is there, Satriani certainly lets the solos fly but it certianly doesn’t reach its potential.

  • Sammy Hagar – Sammy Hagar (6)

Eh, the second Sammy Hagar solo record is kind of dull 70’s pop rock with some progressive keyboards on it. The lead track, “Red” is what lead him to get the nickname The Red Rocker, so part of his early career has stuck with him but it’s a pretty generic album with a mess of ballads and very little worth going back to.

  • Sammy Hagar – I Never Said Goodbye (5.5)

Released a year after he joined Van Halen as a contractual obligation to his record company, the album actually features Eddie Van Halen on bass. It was his highest charting solo record, no doubt because he was the lead singer of Van Halen now and surely not because of the songs because they sound exactly like what you’d expect out of a contractual obligation. Crap that should have been relegated to b-sides.

  • Extreme – Saudades de Rock (5.5)

A lot of critics seemed to like this 2008 comeback record from Extreme but I’m not one of them. For their first album in 13 years, Nuno and Gary wrote and recorded pretty generic rock songs. Nothing that is remotely as exciting as their original material and nothing worth more than a passing listen.

  • Van Halen – OU812 (5)

So maybe I don’t like Van Hagar as much as I thought. Remove the singles from both 5150 and OU812 and you have some pretty terrible records. 5150 seemed like an outlier at first with a new single getting acclimated to the band but there’s no excuse for this. As if it isn’t bad enough that the mix and production just really isn’t very good, the songs aren’t there either. Sammy got his “Cabo Wabo” song on this, which would really be the start of a franchise for him but it’s a dull song. And “Source of Infection” sounds like a DLR era outtake but without the rockin’ edge due to the muted production. I’m also surprised “Black and Blue” was the first single as it’s probably the worst single they’ve released. “When It’s Love” and “Finish What You Started” are great singles and “Mine All Mine” begins the album nicely but this is the second record in a row that just sounds like a pretty uninspired band between the hit songs.

  • Sammy Hagar – Lite Roast (5)

Lite Roast is Sammy’s only acoustic record, done with Vic Johnson from the Waboritas. In 2014, Sammy wanted to put together a Hagar Greatest Hits album from everything he’s done but the brothers Van Halen refused to let him put the Van Halen cuts on it, so he went to this instead. And well, it is what it is. It’s an acoustic record of older tracks of his that fit nicely in an acoustic format. He didn’t really challenge himself too much here, which makes the album feel somewhat safe in the end. It’s not bad but it’s just kind of there, like the vast majority of his catalog.

  • Extreme – Take Us Alive (5)

Extreme’s only live record was released in 2010 and captures the last show of the Saudades de Rock tour the previous year. Based on the fact that it consists of a lot of material from that 2008 record and I don’t really dig that record, this doesn’t do much for me. However, it does get a few points for some cool live versions of older tracks like “Decadence Dance” and “Get the Funk Out.”

  • Hurtsmile – Hurtsmile (5)

Formed in 2011, Hurtsmile was Gary Cherone’s band with his brother Mark on guitar. It’s buttrock, plain and simple. No better or worse than any of Sammy Hagar’s buttrock of the same period.

  • Hurtsmile – Retrogrenade (5)

Formed in 2011, Hurtsmile was Gary Cherone’s band with his brother Mark on guitar. It’s buttrock, plain and simple. No better or worse than any of Sammy Hagar’s buttrock of the same period. This was the second record and it had covers. Really the only difference from the first record.

  • HSAS – Through the Fire (5)

Getting Sammy Hagar together with Neil Schon from Journey should have been a pretty decent pairing but this is by-the-numbers rock music, very typical of a hundred other rock bands around this time (1984). The only single from the record was the cover of “Whiter Shade of Pale,” a sad statement on the originals from a bunch of pretty successful dues.

  • Sammy Hagar & the Circle – Space Between (5)

Jesus Christ, Sammy Hagar is the most frustrating artist. The live record he put out with the Circle was really good, showcasing the best rock songs that he’s made over the years. Then he decides that he likes the band so much that they should do a studio record and it’s boring as fuck. Like seriously boring. And ironically, one of the singles is called “Can’t Hang” which is about leaving the game if you can no longer hang. Well shit dude, maybe you should listen to your own lyrics and finally hang it up – just go out and perform your hits. This album, from 2019 was essentially his 28th studio record in some band or another and there can’t be more than a half dozen albums worth of material that really deserves to be heard in the long run. I always want to give Sammy the benefit of the doubt as he seems like a fun man but his songwriting skills are so erratic that he’s just fucking maddening.

  • David Lee Roth – Your Filthy Little Mouth (5)

Well, it’s hard to explain this one. I love Nile Rodgers who produced this record and he made Roth’s sound pretty diverse here but is that what DLR needed? It certainly doesn’t work here with a mixture of rock, reggae, r&B, lounge music and for fuck’s sake, a country duet with Travis Tritt. The record starts off with promise as “She’s My Machine” and “Everybody’s Got the Monkey” are rockin’ tunes but it quickly downhill from there and never really recovers.

  • Sammy Hagar – Street Machine (5)

Another Hagar solo record (his 5th) to be average at best with a handful of good songs and way more filler than there should be.

  • Van Halen – Diver Down (4.5)

I was six in 1982 when this came out but I wish I had been older and in tune with music back then. Listening to it now, it seems like this should have been the record to derail their career but I would have liked to have seen the reception back in the day. People (myself included) love a good cover song normally and that’s what this record almost seems to be. There are 12 tracks, five of them are covers, three of them are short instrumentals and the other four are original tunes and the best of them (“Hang ‘Em High”) was written many years earlier. Dave originally just wanted to put out a 1-off single cover song of “Dancing in the Streets” but the record company pressured them into putting a full record out and it plays out like a cover album because the three singles were just that. The aforementioned track as well as “(Oh) Pretty Woman” and “Where Have the Good Times Gone” were the hits from the records and while all memorable, it’s simply because they were good tracks to begin with. I rank it so low because it’s a lazy cash grab.

  • Van Halen – 5150 (4)

For me, this is the worst of the Van Halen studio albums. 1984, 5150 and OU812 were spun like crazy in the 80s in my discman but when I take a critical look at this album now, it pretty much sucks. I am not a Sammy Hagar hater at all – I think both him and DLR had their place in the band but this record seems to be half written in the DLR style and half written for Sammy. The keyboard driven singles play directly into Hagar’s strengths. The loud rockers don’t at all. They seem to be in the same style that Dave would have really had fun with and made a trip and a half to listen to and while that’s not to say that Sammy can’t rock out but he plays it straight. A great vocalist in his own right but very different than the playful style that Roth brought to the group. Where he shines is with the singles, “Why Can’t This Be Love?” “Love Walks In” and “Dreams” of course. Where he doesn’t is with heavy tunes like “Good Enough” and “Summer Nights.” I do remember the jolting feeling though when “Love Walks In” came on for the first time and you got – gasp, a Van Halen ballad? And “Get Up” is easily the worst song up until this point and maybe the worst one the group has ever written. I completely understand why DLR lovers started hating them at this point. I’m glad it got better down the road but when you are doing what I’m doing and listening to all of them back-to-back, this is jolting.

  • Tribe of Judah – Exit Elvis (4)

Tribe of Judah was the first thing Gary Cherone did after parting with Van Halen and features members of Extreme not named Nuno Bettencourt and it’s pretty terrible electronic rock. Supposedly “Left for Dead” was written for a second Van Halen record. I can’t imagine Van Halen recording this.

  • Sammy Hagar – Cosmic Universal Fashion (4)

What in the shithole is this? The first four tracks on the album are somewhere between grunge and buttrock and the track that sounds the most different from anything else in his catalog – the loud grungy, “Peephole” features Deen Castronovo and Neil Schon from Journey. It doesn’t make any sense. Michael Anthony is on the first half of this disc as well. Tracks 5-9 feature the Waboritas again and they create songs that sounds like a mashup of every style that band used on the previous four records instead. It’s like two different EPs combined into one. And then there’s his cover of the Beastie Boys “Fight For Your Right To Party” which features his roadie on vocals and could very well be one of the worst fucking cover songs ever recorded. Overall it’s clear that Sammy had no fucking clue at all what album he wanted to make heading into this record.

  • Sammy Hagar – VOA (4)

VOA (Voice of America) contains one song that has become a fan favorite (or fan joke depending on who you ask) in the memorable “I Can’t Drive 55.” The rest of it is below average filler that only die hard’s should pay attention to.

  • Sammy Hagar – Nine on a Ten Scale (4)

Sammy’s debut solo record is an unfocused mess of very light material, virtually nothing that makes Sammy, Sammy. The album starts off light, teases you with rock in the middle, then ends light again. No need to bother.

  • Sammy Hagar and the Waboritas – Not 4 Sale (5.5 – 2)

Another Waboritas record here that just like the previous one, starts off pretty well with the rockin tunes, “Stand Up” and “Hallelujah” and then the song writing goes downhill. The ranking here come to a 3.5 – a 5.5 for the album then a full two point deduction for the fucking abomination called “Whole Lotta Zep” a mashup of Zep covers of “Black Dog” “Kashmir” and “Whole Lotta Love.” I often wonder what goes through Sammy’s head.

  • Sammy Hagar – All Night Long (3)

This is Sammy’s first live album from 1978, featuring songs from an era that I don’t care for, so I mean, yeah, like I can rank this higher? The only reason it gets a 3 is because he performs “I’ve Done Everything For You” the hit song for one of my favorites, Rick Springfield. Sammy wrote the song but never put a recorded version on an album until he included it on a greatest hits disc after Springfield got a hit with it. Figures. I mean, what the fuck Sammy? Even here, the song is great.

  • Van Halen – Van Halen III (3)

Are there any bands out there that have been able to get significant hits with three different lead singers? I can’t think of any off right off hand but it has to be pretty rare. I see why Van Halen thought it might be possible though. I mean, both Roth and Hagar gave them major hits and while their popularity was sliding a bit now, wanting to continue the band was inevitable and on paper, Gary Cherone seemed like a decent choice but he ended up bringing nothing new to the table, playing it pretty straight across the album. My ranking of a 3 is interesting because I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a horrible record. It’s not a good one but it has moments but as bad as 5150 and OU812 were overall, they had a few memorable tunes on each while this has absolutely nothing to remember. I’ve only listened to it when it came out and now twice for this trek and each time it’s like listening to a brand new record. That’s why it’s the lowest ranked VH record.

  • Sammy Hagar – Live 1980 (2)

See comment for All Night Long. Pretty much the same.

  • Sammy Hagar – Greatest Hits Live (2)

This is a combo of the best tracks from his previous two live records. Yes, the best of two bad live records. It’s unbelievable this exists.

  • Van Halen – Tokyo Dome in Concert (2)

This is the only live record featuring David Lee Roth and that’s just sad. Released after Another Kind of Truth to keep the momentum going a bit, this is a fucking trainwreck. And that’s all because of Roth. If you’ve seen any performance from Dave in the last decade or so, he’s more personality and style than a singer at this point. He sings every other line, misses words completely and improvises way too much. Diamond Dave the showman, has never went away but the voice behind it kind of has. If this is what a live VH show is like these days, there’s no way I’m ever paying to see them.

  • Cherone – Need I Say More EP (2)

Um, Gary Cherone solo yacht rock. Picture Hall & Oates’ “Sara Smile” but lame.

  • David Lee Roth – Diamond Dave (2)

Whatever this is, should be on the scrapheap. This is blues, soul, jazz, anything but rock and even when he does try rocking, using electronic drums kills this. And “Thug Pop” could be the worst song he’s ever released.

  • Overall Summary: Albums 60, average 6.2
  • Van Halen Summary: Albums 14, average 6.6
  • David Lee Roth Summary: Albums 15, average 6.6
  • Sammy Hagar Summary: Albums 34, average 6.0
  • Gary Charone Summary: Albums 9, average 5.6

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s