When I first heard Sammy Hagar was joining Van Halen, I wasn’t happy. I revolted. I said no way in hell will I ever support such a thing. I felt that way for a couple of reasons. First, I love Sammy Hagar. I didn’t want him to be part of a band. I wanted solo Sammy. Second, I couldn’t imagine Van Halen without Diamond Dave up front. I went to see David Lee Roth on his solo tour for the Eat ‘Em and Smile album (which I also bought), but it took me a bit longer to get on board with Sammy and Van Halen. When I finally did, I realized how good they were together. It doesn’t detract one bit from how awesome Eat ‘Em and Smile is, though. I still listen to it today. With Steve Vai on guitar, Billy Sheehan on bass, Gregg Bissonette on drums, and David’s sparkling personality, it couldn’t really lose. I’ve always said it could have been the next Van Halen album if Dave had stayed in the band, and it would have been a fine effort.
But let’s talk about the albums Dave actually did with Van Halen. Which one is your favorite? I know Dave had a reunion with Van Halen, so for the record, I’m only talking about the first six Van Halen albums. Those are Van Halen, Van Halen II, Woman and Children First, Fair Warning, Diver Down, and 1984.
The order of my favorites:
Van Halen II
Women and Children First
The first album, Van Halen, is a classic and just exploded on the scene with fresh intensity. It has to come first. With the foundation tunes Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love, Runnin’ with the Devil, and the cover of You Really Got Me, not to mention Jamie’s Cryin’ and the groundbreaking Eruption, this album is first by default. There’s times I believe I like the second and third albums just as good as the first, but in the end, the first is the best.
Van Halen II has Dance the Night Away, Somebody Get Me a Doctor, and D.O.A. Need I say more? Those are great tunes. The rest of the album holds its own, so this is a catchy kick ass entry in the Van Halen repertoire.
1984 just barely nudges out Women and Children First for the number three slot on my list of favorites, but songs like Jump, Hot for Teacher, I’ll Wait, and Panama are hard to beat. I know the keyboards threw some fans off, but I like them, and the songs are top notch, so yeah, this one takes the number three slot for me.
Women and Children First features the driving force of And the Cradle Will Rock as well as Everybody Wants Some, Take Your Whiskey Home, and Could This Be Magic? Just a bunch of catchy tunes that sound really good to my ear. The perfect foil for Dave’s crazy chatter and Eddie’s blistering licks and riffs. It’s also my favorite of the Van Halen album covers.
Fair Warning is my sister’s favorite Van Halen album. In all fairness, there are times I really get the urge to listen to it. There weren’t any real hits on the album, but songs like Mean Street, So This Is Love?, and Sinner’s Swing do have a certain charm. Not one of their most commercially successful, though, and kudos to my sister for not following the crowd.
Diver Down just feels like a lazy record to me. Yeah, the covers of Oh, Pretty Woman and Dancing in the Street are cool, and Where Have All the Good Times Gone? wasn’t bad, but none of these are enough to support an otherwise lackluster album. I mean, it’s mostly covers, and only six albums into their career, Van Halen should’ve been putting out more killer originals, not playing the stuff they played in the clubs.
That’s it for me.Comment and let me know the order of your favorites for these six classic Roth-era albums.