"A Different Kind of Truth" (Interscope; 2014)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

This is the first disc with bassist Wolfgang Van Halen and the first with David Lee Roth since "1984," not to mention the first disc in fourteen years since "Van Halen III." Well, was is worth the wait? I liked their previous album titled "VHIII." Gary Cherone sounded like Sammy Hagar. The disc rocked but most people just shelved it and dusted it off each Spring hoping for some new material from the VH camp. Well, your wish has been granted. This album, although missing Michael Anthony's high pitched back-up vocals, is still a force to be reckoned with and I feel that Van Halen doesn't have anything to prove any more. They just play because it's who they are as a band.

The guitar of Eddie Van Halen is classic in the riff department but the solos often remind me of how advanced he was before the rest of us caught up to a puff of smoke. He's got tricks a plenty and often I felt like this was a jam session that got polished and produced for the masses who were tired of Van Halen just sitting on their asses. It's a good thing Eddie was playing the guitar the whole time and not just twiddling his thumbs.

The guitar work is why we listen and it's worth the auditory delight. David Lee Roth is still having the time of his life when it comes to being a front man. He's done the gig that got him noticed, now he's just playing with the time he's got via Van Halen. Alex sounds fresh on this offering. He's the steady beat but he's got fire when it comes to picking up the pace and he and brother Eddie use their sibling connection to lay down some solid music. Wolfgang didn't replace Michael Anthony ... that can't be done ... but he does have the DNA of an incredible guitar player so his musical prowess is on full display.

Overall, worth the wait and this should help appease fans for a while. I just hope we don't have to wait too long for the next Van Halen record.

The band: David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, Wolfgang Van Halen.

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"Best of Both Worlds" (Rhino; 2004)

Reviewed by Snidermann

This new "Best of" Van Halen CD is a 29 song, double CD set that showcases all the band's biggest hits over the years, including both David Lee Roth and Sammy Hager on vocals (hence the name of the CD). 

Most of the band's best songs are here but, because they can only put so many songs on two CDs, some of the best songs are not. Most notably for me, "Ice Cream Man" did not make the cut, but oh, well. There are also three new songs that really rock and live cuts including "Ain't Talking About Love," "Panama" and "Jump." 

The Van Halen mystique is really apparent throughout this CD. Since Van Halen's music is heard everywhere on the classic radio scene, sometimes you really forget how many excellent songs they have put out over the years. This collection just reminds you to get out your old records and check them out all over again. 

This is such a great compilation. The scope of the music and influence that Van Halen has had on rock'n'roll and the music industry in general is undeniable. Even if the band never records again, they're still a force in the musical industry. 

An utterly awesome collection of great Van Halen music. 

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"Van Halen 3" (Warner Bros.; 1998)

Reviewed by Snidermann

This Van Halen release, simply entitled "Van Halen 3," is a statement that says rock doesn't have to be complicated to be good. "3" was produced by Eddie Van Halen and since he is a (perhaps "the"?) guitar god, this is a guitar album. Eddie's riffs are abundant throughout the recording, even more so than usual. Alex Van Halen on drums and Michael Anthony on bass provide a strong supporting cast for the band and rounding out the quartet is Ex-EXTREME vocalist Gary Cherone.

If I didn't know better, I would think that Sammy Hagar was still the frontman for Van Halen. His voice and Gary's are so much alike, you begin to wonder if they can clone voices. Regardless, Cherone does a good job of putting vocals to Van Halen's music.

Of course, any Van Halen lineup must forever be compared with the supergroup of the late '70s and early '80s, who consistently put out top ten releases and packed arenas worldwide. They defined a musical generation and changed rock'n'roll music forever. During Van Halen's heyday, it was David Lee Roth that almost spoiled Van Halen for me. He was everything I hated about the spoiled bad boy rocker image. But when that band got together to record an album, there was magic afoot. The music on those first few records will just set you afire.

I have to give credit to Cherone: the guy has to contend with the "ghosts" of both Diamond Dave and Sammy Hagar but he lives up to expectations admirably. I'll admit, It took me a few spins to really get into the groove of "3," but I'm glad I stuck to it, because man, it's really catching on. Cherone only recorded this one album and it's too bad. It would have been interesting to see where Van Halen would have gone with Cherone at the microphone.

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"Balance" (Warner Bros.; 1995)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Watch out! You might hear a matured Van Halen on this release. Music has to mature and change -- not only because the audience matures, but because musicians grow up and reflect on their artistry as well. Still, because I grew up with Van Halen (and I think those of you who did the same will agree with me), one can't help but secretly wish Eddie would just go back to the way it was. Still, we have to give credit where credit is due: The dead-on vocals of Sammy Hagar, the Jack Daniels bass of Michael Anthony and the drum curtain background by Alex Van Halen enveloped the unmatched sound of Eddie Van Halen on guitar.

"Balance" was one of the better guitar albums from the Hagar era because the kinks were all worked out on the previous three CDs. As tight as they were on record, there were stunning guitar tricks that kept you listening. Some of it was experimental, (i. e. the two instrumentals on this disc), but the Van Halen guitar sound was still alive and kicking.

The best tracks here are “The Seventh Sign,” “Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Amsterdam,” and “Baluchitherium.”

Van Halen: Eddie, Alex, Sammy and Mike.

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"Van Halen Live: Right Here, Right Now" (Warner Bros.; 1993)

Reviewed by Snidermann

There are a few regrets I have in my life: Not seeing Led Zeppelin live (too young), not seeing Lynyrd Skynyrd live (again, too young), not see Wayne Gretzky play hockey in Los Angeles (too stupid) and not seeing Van Halen live (again, way too stupid).

When it comes to the musical aspect of my regrets, I have, of course, the recorded material to get me by. This is the age old question of people my age: Diamond David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar on vocals for Van Halen? My vote changes with my mood. Right now, Sammy gets my vote. This live recording shows the power of the Van Halen group after Diamond Dave's departure. Sammy Hager's voice mixed perfectly with Alex and Eddie Van Halen, and Michael Anthony, to make one of the supergroups of the 80's and 90's. Just go back and listen to this combination and you will see just what this band did from 1985 to 1996. Simply brilliant. But, alas, brilliant talents can rarely stay together as history shows us again and again and that was what happened to this version of Van Halen. We have the studio recordings and we have this live recording to remind us how totally awesome they actually were.

Van Halen: Eddie, Alex, Sammy and Mike.

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"OU812" (Warner Bros.; 1988)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Rockers of a certain age ask the same question: Who was the better singer of Van Halen - David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar? I would say, at the time, Diamond Dave was the right singer. However, when Sammy joined, I would say he was the correct singer at the time. I personally like Sammy at vocals better (my review, my choice!)

At the time (1988), the band's line up for this recording had too many alpha dogs in the group. However, when they were together, they put out some of the best music rock'n'roll has ever witnessed. This release has it all: great music (what would you expect with Eddie on guitar), killer songwriting, and enough charisma to light up a small city.

Van Halen has always had a incredible rhythm section with Alex Van Halen on drums and Michael Anthony on bass and background vocals. With Sammy singing, this makes Van Halen one killer band. Eddie was simply one of the best guitarists to ever walk the face of the Earth. When you listen to this recording, you find yourself transported to the late 80s and everything that was involved with that.

Simply speaking, "OU812" is a perfect rock'n'roll release and it just keeps getting better with age.

Van Halen: Eddie, Alex, Sammy and Mike.

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"5150" (Warner Bros.; 1986)

Reviewed by Snidermann

To say that Van Halen with David Lee Roth on vocals were a smash hit in the late 70s and early 80s would be a total understatement. But all good things, as they say, must come to an end, and in August of 1985, Diamond Dave left Van Halen and Sammy Hagar came on as the new front man for the band.

Their first recording, "5150" (that term has all sorts of meanings … look it up) was released in 1986. Sammy Hagar is no rookie to the rock scene, by any means. He had great success with Montrose from 1973 to 1975 with hits like "Rock Candy" and "Bad Motor Scooter," among others.

When I first heard that Sammy was going to join the band, I was both surprised and more than a bit intrigued. Sammy Hagar and Eddie Van Halen are both alpha males—and great guitarists—what would happen when the two go into the studio and went on tour together? I thought it would be magic or mayhem … and maybe and probably both.

Then Van Halen released "5150" with Sammy Hagar on vocals. The rest, as they say, is history. The recording went on to sell five million plus copies and is considered by many to be one of the best rock recordings of all time.

As to that, I must disagree to a point. I really liked the recording with hits like "Why Can’t This Be Love," "Dreams," and "Best of Both Worlds." However, I found the recording missing some style points of continuity and I don’t think all the bandmembers were on the same page. It is hard for me to put my finger on it and I put it down to brilliant musicians not connecting together as well as they should have and that, my friend, comes with familiarity, with each other, the fans, the production and the tour.

So, while I don't think it's one of the great rock recordings of all time, "5150" is still a great recording with plenty of FM radio airplay. However, the age-old question still remains and will forever be debated throughout the rock world: Was Van Halen better with or without David Lee Roth? I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that "5150" is a great rock release, warts and all.

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"1984" (Warner Bros.; 1984)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Van Halen’s iconic release 1984 is arguably one of the best rock releases of the 80s. Killer tracks like "Jump," "Panama" and (my personal favorite) "Hot For Teacher" are fantastic songs and to this day are still played on classic rock stations around the US of A.

"1984" would be the last album by the original group featuring Eddie and Alex Van Halen, Michael Anthony and David Lee Roth. I always attributed the breakup of the band to David Lee Roth, but years later, I think it was actually Eddie Van Halen. There is a thin line between brilliance and ego and, from what I've read, it sounds like Eddie Van Halen is one of the world's greatest guitarists and has the ego to go with it.

I also have to mention the artwork here. It features a very young angel with slicked back hair, smoking a cigarette. I've always loved that album cover.

Van Halen: David Lee Roth – vocals; Eddie Van Halen – guitar, backing vocals; Michael Anthony – bass, backing vocals; Alex Van Halen – drums.

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"II" (Warner Bros.; 1979)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

This follow up to Van Halen's debut was another blistering guitar offering from Eddie and the boys. Although David Lee Roth was quickly becoming the showman that all wanted to emulate, it was still Eddie on guitar that shone and his masterful approach to the gitfiddle is forever preserved on this disc.

There are some elements of history attached to this recording: First, it was supposedly done before Van Halen's first CD was ever released. Second, the guitar Eddie is photographed with on the back was buried with Dimebag Darrell because Dime said that he had always liked it. Last, on the inside, DLR is shown with a wrapped foot that he supposedly broke while making the horizontal splits photo on the back.

The first single was "Dance The Night Away" and then "Beautiful Girls" was released. Starting out the disc was the cover tune "You're No Good" which has been covered by a lot of artists, most notably Linda Ronstadt. The whole disc is full of Eddie's incredible guitar work and Michael Anthony's harmonic genius coupled with Alex Van Halen's rhythmic pounding. The re-mastered version sounds much better than the 1979 release.

Van Halen: David Lee Roth – vocals; Eddie Van Halen – guitar, backing vocals; Michael Anthony – bass, backing vocals; Alex Van Halen – drums.

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"Van Halen" (Warner Bros.; 1978)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Van Halen's 1978 debut release has got to be one of the great rock records, debut or not. The foursome of David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony on bass make up one of the most dynamic lineups in rock history. 

"Van Halen" proves it beyond a doubt; these four guys kick rock ass. 

I am listening to this CD while I write this review and I have to stop a moment because "Ice Cream Man" just came on (my all time fave Van Halen tune) and I can't write and rock at the same time. In my ears, there has never been a more perfect blend of voice and music ever written than "Ice Cream Man." Anyone with that tune, check it out. You will not be disappointed.

Back to the review: "Van Halen" established the band as a driving force in rock music. Eddie Van Halen's guitar work here entrenched his place in rock history and, when combined with the other three incredible members, makes for a truly explosive release. 

This shit is as vibrant now as it was 20-some years ago. A truly amazing release.

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"Zero" (Boo Music.; 1976)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

This bootleg CD contains the original demos produced and funded by KISS's Gene Simmons, way back at the beginning of Van Halen. It has early versions of songs that were spread out to these other VH discs: "Van Halen," "Van Halen II,", "1984," and even "A Different Kind of Truth."

Here is the track list:
"On Fire" (re-recorded for "Van Halen")
"Woman in Love"
"House Of Pain" (reworked and re-recorded for "1984")
"Runnin' With the Devil" (re-recorded for "Van Halen")
"She's the Woman" (reworked and re-recorded for "A Different Kind of Truth")
"Let's Get Rockin'" (reworked and re-recorded as "Outta Space" on "A Different Kind of Truth")
"Big Trouble" (reworked and re-recorded as "Big River" on "A Different Kind of Truth")
"Somebody Get Me a Doctor" (re-recorded for "Van Halen II")
"Babe, Don't Leave Me Alone"
"Put Out the Lights" (reworked and re-recorded as "Beats Workin'" on "A Different Kind of Truth")

The demos sound really good and, after listening to this disc, you can tell these guys had something special. Most of the songs are recognizable and these unpolished demos show how far the band has come. What is really cool is that you can hear snippets of other songs in the making.

Currently, you can stream this disc in its entirety at this link: Because it isn't an official release, it's a little difficult to find in CD format.

For more information head on over to


Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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