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Van Halen/5150     MMMMMCL=5150     ("Fifty-One, Fifty")

 

VAN HALEN ALBUM REVIEW RECOUNTS HOW VAN HALEN BECAME VAN HAGAR  

Edward Van Halen Finds Out It Can Be Done Without David Lee Roth

"5150" is my personal, favorite Van Hagar album and easiest Van Halen album to review from the Hagar years. (1986-1996 & 2004)  The music on "5150" flat out gives you the chills.  More on that later.

Everything about the album cover, from the green emanating out the crack of the globe on Lou Ferrigno straining his ass off catches your eye and keeps you looking at it. 

Good Enough
Why Can't This Be Love
Get Up
Dreams
Summer Nights
Best Of Both Worlds
Love Walks In
"5150"
Inside

The flip side is even more impressive when you see the band coming out of the globe.  The font of Copperplate Gothic Bold, in green, is exactly how this page is presented, in honor of it's awesome-ness, and the album art and font used on all the artwork and subsequent marketing material for 45 records, 33s, cassettes and CDs.

The music, however, stays fresh with me, years later.  In a way, it's a magical album that remains like new, never losing its novelty.  Music you love should give you the chills and you should keep looking until you find it.  You may know what gives you chills, and choose to keep it special by listening to it sparingly.  In the words of MTV "Too Much Is Never Enough."  Van Halen is the first band in my life, except maybe Boston, who gave me the chills.  'And Van Halen has done it the most, by far.  "5150" and its follow up, "OU812" will give you the chills the most of any Van Halen albums. 

"Good Enough,"  is still the freshest sounding song of all of "5150" to me, followed closely by "Dreams" and " '5150' ".  "Good Enough" was just so neat, from the first moment I heard it.  Bryan McDaniel, I think it was, kept playing it over and over; "HEE  Lllooo BaaaAAAA BY! (guitar wah scream)" in the school parking lot from his car, blasting it.  I knew it was Sammy with Van Halen immediately.  Everyone was waiting to hear the band sans David Lee Roth.  I was practicing Discus and kept hearing that and once in a while the whole song.  I knew it was really awesome stuff and that I had to have the "5150" album asap!  I had already decided that though.  "Why Can't This Be Love" was already out, as a pre-album release, on the radio and I had taped it on my boom box and liked it more than any other song at the time.  Of course, I played it over and over.  Then my friends and I went to the mall one day after the "5150" album came out and I'm like "I'm getting this!" and of course I took it home, recorded it to cassette tape the first time it played on the turn table, for listening to everywhere and another copy for in the car.  I kept playing that record copy though, and eventually had to get a replacement for it.  I put the first one on the wall.  Recently I got my old LPs out from storage - in mint condition, most of them were.  I plan on again displaying that album cover in my guitar area.

"Why Can't This Be Love" was always on the radio.  The album immediately went to number one.  Every song that was released was always on the radio.  "Dreams" was next, then "Best Of Both Worlds" and then "Love Walks In".  On MTV the song "5150"  was then released, for video, played like a release on MTV with the version from "Live Without A Net" and it was labeled as "51-50" so people would know how to pronounce it, if they didn't already know.  I don't know how that could have been scientifically possible.

"Get Up" was the one song I could rely upon driving my mother absolutely nuts.  If I wanted to get under her skin I would just crank that puppy up.  My Panasonic receiver could send a pumping signal through those American Acoustics speakers and I blew a few sets of those speakers.  Thank God they had a Craftsman - like replacement warranty.  "Get Up" has some serious bass to say the least.  Michael Anthony's lyrics on the song are what stands out most to me.

"Dreams" I am describing alongside "Love Walks In" (though now I'm going out of order of the tracks) as keyboard-laden, pop-metal anthems of 1986 and 1987.  They are both songs that give you the chills, through and through.  "Dreams" and "Love Walks In" are just tremendous songs that give me the chills to this day.  I put these  songs up there with my all time favorite music, period.  They are really beautiful songs; special, sentimental, wonderful works of art.  "Dreams" just floors me.  It's like Eric Johnson's "Cliffs of Dover" - you know where you were when you heard it the first time.  The song gives you the chills from start to finish and not like other songs which give you "moments".  This song is so different from previous Van Halen but it's a MATURED Van Halen and it really does something no Roth fronted song did; it raises your furr from start to finish!  These two songs, "Dreams" and "Love Walks In" are right up there with classics like Boston's "More Than A Feeling" and "Don't Stop Believin' " by Journey and "These Dreams" by Heart and "Dream On" by Aerosmith.  (there's that word "dreams" again and again.)  They are that caliber; timeless, classic, beautiful, riveting; just simply awesome as in some of man kind's most beautiful work in music.  If they don't give you chills you aren't human.  In Sammy Hagar's new book, it was said that Eddie knew no vocals of the album, Valerie sat him down to listen to the words, and the first verse of "Love Walks In" put him in tears.   And the verse is beauty.  It's not just a PART of the song that gives you chills.  Some songs hit that sweet spot and it's repeated but not all-encompassing.   It's the whole song, every verse, every lyric, every chorus, the music, the guitar, the drums, the bass...  Nothing lacks.  It's musical perfection.  It's the "sweet spot" of a ballad and only some Beatles, Journey and Boston songs compare but none do it through and through like "Love Walks In".

"Summer Nights" was the first song that VH actually worked on together with Sammy Hagar.  It was not a one and done take but pretty close apparently.  This is covered in length on the "Van Halen Unleashed" MTV Special found also on the main Van Halen page.  If you listen to "Dawn of 5150" and hear the bootlegs of the song you can be pretty certain that's some of the first complete recording of a song Van Hagar did together.  Totally awesome.  Totally 80s.  Totally put the mood of the summer in a Van Hagar light.  Time was different.  News was different.  Times were simple.  People were enjoying the ending of the cold war....  There was an air of positive energy permeating all over the USA.  Van Halen is going in a new direction.  Debate is fun.  Let's get it on.  Sammy and the brothers and Mikey knew they had a band instantaneously upon jamming.  Read about it in Sammy Hagar's new "RED" book.  It's not all negative about VH.  There's a lot of positive energy that was there.  You can still feel it by playing this whole album.  "Summer Nights" said it all about young love; "Summer Nights and my radio.  That's all we need Baby.  Don't ya know?"  Okay it's a little corny - the "don't ya know?"  It's sounding like simple love at that time.  You think you have it all when you have nothing but life is a new oyster loaded with that great pearl.  You HAVE to do nothing together.  It's nice.  The night, the radio, nothing to do...

"Best Of Both Worlds" had a lot of religious people up in arms with the reference that, admittedly, I don't like either: "You don't have to die and go to Heaven, or hang around to be born again.  Just tune in to what this place has got to offer 'cuz we may never be here again.  Ow!  I want the Best Of Both Worlds..."  I think you DO have to die and go to Heaven, and to do that you must hang around and BE born again.  BUT It's a song.  It's not a direct or subliminal message.  It's not indicative of something bad in Sammy.  He's saying you should live life to the fullest and, to reference KISS, "Lick It Up" - life that is - lick LIFE up!  It's a great studio song, and it's really, really great, live.  I enjoy it acoustically as Sammy has done it on his own a lot....  It's just a great song that almost became the title for the album instead of "5150."  Eventually, in 2004, the second Van Halen Greatest Hits would receive that title with the word "the" added to the beginning; "The Best Of Both Worlds."

"5150" the song was one that was not released to the radio but it became a huge MTV video hit and in particular, a "Head Banger's Ball" staple.  It was labeled as "51-50" so people who didn't know already, were aware of how to pronounce it.  It's the longest song with the most impressive guitar work.  The main riff is one that was played faster live.  It sounds a little slow in comparison on the album after watching and hearing it live so much.  Either way, the vocals of Michael Anthony really show up on this song, the drumming of Alex Van Halen stands out almost as much as on "Get Up," the vocals are very strong, comparable to "Dreams;" simply awesome!  The guitar work and solo are shredders that can give you the chills.  The "Live Without A Net" version is something many people call the best Van Hagar.  I think it's possible that the solo is the most enduring.  The solo on vinyl is slick, very emotional and long...and cool as can be.  The live solo is different.  It's longer still.  It's got the delay and volume shifting of the "Cathedral" instrumental, it's so well defined by the blue and red lighting.  It's just a great moment that was thankfully captured for the public, immortalized.

Finally, "Inside" was a song that cracked me up and I love the beat, the guitar work, the lines that I won't even print, that I won't repeat on here but I know well, that were put beneath the volume.  Listen to that song in the proper frame of mind and it's really, really funny.  "Inside" is to music what one of those great paintings you can always find something new in every time you look hard.  You can always hear something new and different on that song that maybe you never heard or haven't heard in a long time. 

It was exciting having Sammy Hagar as the new vocalist.  He was different but just as interesting to watch and listen to as DLR.  He was even more enthusiastic, and simply "likeable" in my eyes, than Dave.  I got "Live Without A Net" and still have my copy of it, off of MTV, to this day.  I have the DVDs of the tapes I bought, like "Net" and "LIVE: Right here, right now." The "Van Halen Unleashed" MTV special which is on the main Van Halen page of this site was the video bonus version of the whole experience.  It was so fun to watch, I probably saw it 100 times in the first year I had it on tape, and literally, listened to "5150" every single day from the day I bought it until well after OU812 came out.  I listened to it every single day, at least once, the whole way through.  It was basically the soundtrack to my life. 

Then Sammy Hagar's solo single for "Winner Takes It All" came out, with Eddie playing bass.  I was blown away by that and added it to my collection of songs to listen to daily. 

Then Sammy Hagar's solo album called "Sammy Hagar" came out.  It was the second album of his that was simply self-titled.  Then MTV had its contest to name the album and it became "I Never Said Goodbye".  I loved it too.  I had now a little over 20 songs of my "Van Hagar Circle" that was my main part of my whole collection of music. 

Adding Sammy Hagar as the lead vocalist for Van Halen was something that I thought was the neatest thing because it opened up my circle of music that I already listened to way too much!  (according to those around me)  Now there was this cool guy who was new to the scene, with the coolest style and he had a career that spanned longer than Van Halen's.  It was fun saving my allowance and pay from my first jobs to build my collection.  It just took too long but every time I bought a new album I listened to it practically every day for months.  Now you just download them if you're a kid and never had to scrape up money to buy albums so you don't relate.  Back then you either had a friend to "tape" their LP, or you bought it.  I just bought everything!  Then when CDs came out it was neat to re-build my collection.  The only thing I taped from a friend of Van Halen was "Rules Are For Fools" the bootleg.

Through it all and to this day "5150" is still my favorite album from the VAN HAGAR YEARS and gets a 9 out of 10 for review.  I love the guitar work and Sammy's style of singing / screaming was and still is my favorite singer's style.  James Brown influenced, Sammy Hagar had my vote of approval because I already liked James Brown.  I knew the association before I ever heard Sammy verify it.

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