Originally Posted by franksargent
Weren't there three Van Halen's? Dave, Sammy, and that other guy (Van Halen III). I liked the Sammy era the best because he actually could play the guitar.
Also what bothered me about their studio albums, was the mixing, it was all about Eddie's guitar, and very little booming bass (drums and bass guitar). Got to have that thumping bass!
You are talking about Gary Cherone
I'm not saying he was a bad guy and the album itself hinted at some interesting directions. However what Van Halen needs is a strong producer. It would really be amazing to have someone like Rick Ruben go kick the hell out of Eddie and produce a Van Halen album. Sort of like the Phil Jackson who can demand necessary and proper changes out of a Jordan, Shaq or Kobe.
The album itself didn't have a single song that was under five or so minutes from what I recall and sounded as if it were mixed in a closet by a meth addict. I owned it back when, but had all my CD's/tapes stolen in the mid-90's.
I liked both Van Halens. The band felt looser under Roth but that was mostly because he didn't care much about the music but liked the show. He also hated anything that wasn't straight up arena rock with guitars. Hager as you noted disciplined the music writing quite a bit and probably extended the band in terms of marketability and sales and was pretty much anything goes within a framework of a well written song.
Both points are good and bad. The early Van Halen albums were very loose, sounded like they were recorded (hell and likely written) in a week. You had some amazingly weird and cool things that popped out. I can imagine a song like House of Pain going like this.
Alex: Mike, we need to record this song but so far we only have one verse, no bridge and about half a chorus.
Mike: Dude, I would write a bit more, but Dave's drunk, and well I'm not to far off myself.
Alex: Fuck it, roll tape, let Eddie fill in the blanks with some of his psycho crap.
Most early Van Halen albums were like what... 8-9 songs with one usually being something like Eruption or 1984 aka Eddie dicking around for 90-120 seconds. Two or so covers and that meant maybe five or so solid attempts at songs.
Hager era was much better in terms of actually getting written songs done and on an album. You got 10-12 solid 4 minute songs, new textures, some occasional yearning for religious stuff, hope for humanity, life beyond a bottle or whatever it was Hager was pondering that week, and some of it was pretty great and enjoyable stuff.