Number 822 - Van Halen
"Best Of Both Worlds"
Then again, 5150 wasn't really intended to be funny; it was intended to be a serious album, spiked by a few relentless metallic rockers like "Get Up," but functioning more as a vehicle to showcase Van Halen's -- particularly the guitarist's -- increasing growth and maturity. There are plenty of power ballads, in "Why Can't This Be Love" and "Love Walks In," there's a soaring anthem of inspiration in "Dreams," and even the straight-up rocker "Best of Both Worlds" is tighter and leaner than the gonzo excursions of "Panama" and "Hot for Teacher." And that's where Hagar comes in: Diamond Dave didn't have much patience for plainspoken lyrics or crafting songs, but Sammy does and he brings a previously unheard sense of discipline to the writing on 5150. Not that Hagar is a craftsman like Randy Newman, but he's helped push Van Halen into a dedication on writing full-fledged songs, something that often seemed an afterthought in the original lineup. And so Van Hagar was a bit of an odd mix -- a party band and a party guy, slowly veering into a bourgeois concept of respectability, something that eventually sunk the band -- but on 5150 it worked because they had the songs and the desire to party, so those good intentions and slow tunes don't slow the album down; they give it variety and help make the album a pretty impressive opening act for Van Halen Mach II. ~ [Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide]
The big question is whether even a sound as titanic as Van Halen's can sustain the loss of a loudmouth voluptuary like David Lee Roth, or will the whole metal ball simply collapse under the weight of generic gee-tar pyrotechnics? Though often derided as a frontrunner in the Most Obnoxious Man in Rock sweepstakes, Diamond Dave's giddy way with Uzipaced wisecracks and an unarguably media-genic presence gave Van Halen an overpowering edge on the legions of bands competing in the power-party rock arena. If rock & roll has become a circus maximus, then David Lee Roth was both a patter-spewing ringmaster and an untamable animal in the ring.
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