The Best Of Both Worlds

Van Halen

Warner Brothers, 2004

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


Ah summer! That wonderful time when one can go to the beach, spend all their time outside, or even get a job. Those things are nice, but to me nothing is better in summer than driving down the interstate with the windows down, blasting my music. That last part is where Van Halen comes in.

The Best of Both Worlds (hereafter referred to as The Best Of) is Van Halen's attempt to place the best of the David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar eras of the band on one compilation. Their last attempt, The Best Of Van Halen Volume 1, was a poor attempt at doing just that. Many hits and classic album tracks were missing. Fortunately, with The Best Of, Van Halen has learned from their mistakes.

The dysfunctional nature of Van Halen is most likely well known to anyone reading this review. The band has had three lead singers over the course of some twenty odd years, Roth and Hagar being the most famous of. (The less said about the Gary Cherone debacle the better.) For this particular reunion, Eddie Van Halen decided to give Sammy Hagar one more go. The result: three brand spanking new Van Halen songs. But are they really "new"?my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Hate to break it you Van Halen fans, but these new tracks aren't anything special. "It's About Time" has a nice heavy riff to open things up, but fails to excite. "Up For Breakfast" borrows liberally from "Why Can't This Be Love." "Learning to See" is the best of the three tracks. From the feedback-drenched opening solo, to the shifts in tempo from power ballad to balls out rock, this is the track Van Halen should follow up on. But Jeff, you say, didn't you say the tracks aren't special? Yes I did, but let's be honest; when was the last time Van Halen wowed you with their creativity? These are tracks I would expect from Van Halen circa 2004. Professional, enjoyable, but totally dispensable.

So what about the hits themselves? Well, to the average Van Halen fan, you can't do better than The Best Of. All the big hits, such as "Jump,""Panama,""Why Can't This Be Love" and "Dance The Night Away" are here. Album tracks like "Jamie's Cryin", "Finish What You Started," "Best Of Both Worlds" and the outstanding "Eruption" are here as well. I can't speak for the hardcore VH fans on what should or shouldn't be here, as I only own three Van Halen albums. There are 16 Roth tracks, and 14 Hagar tracks, not including the three new songs and the three live songs that close out the album This is all I wanted out of a Van Halen greatest hits. Both sides are represented relatively equally.

The running order will most likely be the sticking point for the hardcore fans. Unlike the previous GH, this album is not arranged chronologically. That means you can go from the rocking cover of "You Really Got Me" to the synthesizer drenched "Dreams." Some may have major issues with this, but I found it to be in keeping with the title of the album. This is Van Halen's attempt to chronicle their best moments, with both lead singers. Listening to this album has made me actually sit down and listen to Hagar tracks I dismissed previously. As a result, my opinion of the Van Hagar era has increased, albeit slightly. The only slipup is the inclusion of three live tracks at the end of Disc 2. Not only did we already get these tracks in their superior forms, but the sound quality is poor. This is just an attempt to get more of Hagar on the album, and is inexcusable.

A greatest hits album either works or it doesn't. The Best Of Both Worlds is definitely one of the former. This is a chance to hear some of the greatest rock songs of the past 25 some years. Whether you are a Roth fanatic or a Hagar faithful, this compilation should please you.

Rating: A

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© 2004 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers, and is used for informational purposes only.