Geffen Records, 1994
REVIEW BY: Alfredo Narvaez
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/28/1998
Since the comparisons have already started between Van Halen fans, I decided to visit some of Sammy Hagar's solo work. You see, between Montrose and Van Halen, Hagar had a solo career--on two separate labels. It was his work on Geffen Records that eventually brought him to the attention of Van Halen when David Lee Roth decided to send the world into a tail spin still felt today. Unboxed collects his most popular work during his Geffen years in one CD.
First, the bad news. No matter how big a fan one might be, some of the songs will immediately put you back in the 80s. Sorry, but that's the way it is. "Heavy Metal"--which he recorded for the animated feature--though fun, will make you remember those leather days of big hair. "Two Sides Of Love" shows the poppier side of Hagar and, though catchy, doesn't show that much originality. Meanwhile, some of the material comes off as flat or uninteresting. It's not that the songs may be bad, but there's no energy in them. "Baby's On Fire," "I Don't Need Love," "Three Lock Box" and "Buying My Way Into Heaven" all may sound cool at first. Later hearings just bore you out.
However, not all is lost. Some of the material is great. "I'll Fall In Love Again," "One Way To Rock," and "High Hopes" are great, rocking, fun. "Eagles Fly" and "Give To Live" show the softer, better, side of Hagar. Sure, he may have been one of the most banally pop rock artists, but when he was on, he was on. For example, take "I Can't Drive 55." To some people, this song represents what was so wrong with the Van Halen years under Sammy--better known as Van Hagar. To others, it shows exactly what Hagar was bringing to Van Halen--a sense of fun, mischieviousness and adventure. Where do I stand? Let's be honest here. (eww) You will never admit to liking this song, but when you are alone and driving in your car, if this song comes on, you will get it.
Hagar had some success of his own, it's more than likely that people will now first put him together with Van Halen. That, on one hand, is really sad cause he does have talent. However, this set samples only some of that talent. But like I said, when he's on, he is on.