CJ's 2 Cents on: Van Halen's Discography!

Christian Schulze

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On my journey of nurturing my ear I decided to do something I did back in my days of university (I’m dating myself….):

I wrote down a bunch of bands of which I liked a couple of songs of and wanted to explore their entire studio catalog or discography. I wanted to hear the artists evolution of over time and thus I did with a bunch of bands.

After doing that during University I stopped for years and occasionally heard an album here and there, but I mostly stuck to songs.

For a year now I have been compiling artists that I want to listen to, amongst them suggestions of fellow Synners, PG (The blues masterclass “homework”) and of course Syn’s Album’s of the month Artists.

After hearing about the passing of THE Guitar God that was Edward Lodewijk Van Halen I knew that I needed to pay my respects.

I tried learning a song…but I was quickly reminded that I was trying to learn an EVH song…..so mission failed.

Then I thought of other ways to pay tribute and I noticed that I only heard the hits of Van Halen, but never their discography like I used to do. And thus, here we are!

Over the last couple of weeks, I listened to Van Halen’s Discography during work and would like to give my 2 Cents on it.

***Disclaimer***

Mind you that I was listening to the albums during work, which is the worst way to listen to an album since you cannot appreciate the music the entire way and as a musicophile I need to say that. Music should never be background noise and if you use it as that…you are not fully listening. But as modern life is…there never seems to be time to fully devote yourself to the listening of an entire album or our attention span never allows us (talking about myself as well here) to fully listen to it as our main activity. Yet, while listening to the discography in the background, certain songs stand out to me and it’s those songs that I would like to highlight.

**Disclaimer over***


So, the mighty Van Halen’s discography…..where to begin? First Album of course….duh!

1978 Van Halen

You press play and immediately get hit by one of the most Iconic songs ever….Running with the Devil…followed by arguably the most famous guitar song, a song that blew the mind of the masses and guitarist to come. I’m talking about the mighty Eruption, trademark of Eddies guitar acrobatic skills.

To sum it up, this album is a Masterpiece, rarely have I heard a first album by a band that has as many iconic songs as this one. I would like to highlight:

Ain’t talking about love; Jamie’s Cryin’ and my special favorite of this album Little dreamer.

1979 Van Halen II

How do you follow up such a heavy hitter?

I must say, Van Halen II has several songs that stood out to me, and considering that they made their second album only a year after the first one that is a huge plus.

Songs that really stood out to me where:

Dance the Night away (I mean just listen to the “solo” part those harmonics….god); Spanish fly an instrumental spiritual successor to Eruption I would say; D.O.A a heavy hitter!

And finally, my favorite track of the album and I believe my favorite Van Halen song Beautiful Girls, it is just such a fun song that picks up my spirit, and the Chorus I guess:

Here I am, ain't no man of the world, no
All I need is a beautiful girl
Ah, yeah beautiful girls!

I love the riff (Like I literally headbang to it; my god what a mighty Riff) and the lyrics…what a Spirit booster!!!!


1980 Women and Children First

1981 Fair Warning

1982 Diver Down


These 3 albums were release in a span of 3 consecutive years, and considering that Van Halen made their debut album in 1979 I sounded to me that the band was running out of steam. Not to knock these albums, I am just being honest with my opinion.

Very few songs stood out to me, it sounded very much uninspired to me and remember this is me passively listening I most certainly can be wrong, I probably would like more songs if I took the time to attentively listen to them. Of the three albums I got few highlights:

Mean Street and Unchained from Fair Warning

Cathedral of Diver down, again a spiritual successor of Eruption and very lovely, Eddie made the guitar sound like a Violin and in a beautiful way too.
 
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Christian Schulze

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1984 1984

After a two year break, the band came back with a vengeance, 1984 has arguably next to Van Halen the most popular songs I feel.

After a weird intro we hit JUMP! Which to me is the most 80’s riff there ever was. I heard it so many times over the years…that its even annoying to me, literally use it as my alarm clock ever since finishing 1984.

The next song….what a masterpiece Panama! The chorus riff again just makes you feel joy and all kinds of badassness.

Drop Dead legs and Hot for Teacher…my lord you could tell it was the 80’s amazing songs none the less.

To end the album….House of Pain. What a massive song, like real heavy guitar wizardry going on here.



------David Lee Roth leaves and Sammy Hagar is the new Lead Singer of Van Halen, this period is often Called Van Hagar

1986 5150


The Iconic 5150, the EVH amps are named after it, according to some google fu I did Eddie used this name after:

5150 refers to the California law code for the temporary, involuntary psychiatric commitment of individuals who present a danger to themselves or others due to signs of mental illness.

Holy shit…so Madness which is really nice, but also how I felt.

Why Can’t This Be Love…..definitely the cheesiest 80’s song (Just kiddin……or am I?)

Best of both World…reminded me of a long lost ACDC song (very reminiscent of Highway to hell at least the first couple of seconds)

I lied…..Love Walks In is the cheesiest 80’s song (Reminds me of the Rocky 4 song in the verse and chorus is just……sooo cheesy that I felt lactose intolerant).

All in all not a big fan of this new singer and new Van Halen……



1988 OU812

This album has a song on it called Cabo Wabo………yeah……



1991 For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge

Now we are talking!!! Kickass title and album cover, somehow reminded me of Hellraiser, make of that what you will.

The album starts of with two kickass songs…..First one being called POUNDCAKE…not even kidding…..Judgement day follows and I feel like a coked out sonic the hedgehog.

They also got a song called Pleasure Dome….what is with these titles?

But for me the star of the album…..316 Another lovely instrumental of the Grand Wizard EVH.

And the Final song….Top of the World just a nice little bow all around this decent album.

I have to say….by default my favorite Van Hagar era album





1995 Balance

I reached this album and was a bit burned out on Van Hagar…and that came full true on the song Amsterdam which I initially skipped….then I encountered Big Fat Money and went right back to Amsterdam, which is you listen carefully…..Sounds pretty much like Steve Vai (a certain riff in the verse at least).

I though my hope was lost with this album…but song 10 of 12!!!!!!!

If you put this on without me knowing who was playing, I would think this was Steve Vai! Which is very funny, because of course Edddie was the GOAT, but after David Lee Roth left the band and started his solo career……he recruited Steve Vai to be his lead player. Steve was at the time playing in Alcatrazz….being a replacement for Yngwie Malmsteen when he got now Diamond David Lee Roth’s call. Fun Fact.

1998 Van Halen III

Finally….the last Van Hagar Album…and I must say it felt good to have reached this point…not a big fan of old Sammy, if you couldn’t tell. The song that here really stood out to me was Year to the Day and only for Eddie’s playing, somehow remembered me of Fade to Black by Metallica in the clean parts. Nonetheless, a really good song.



And after this….it took the unthinkable to make another Van HALEN album….
 

Christian Schulze

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--------Diamond David Lee Roth rejoins and Wolfgang Van Halen Joins as Bassist--------------------

2012 A different Kind of Truth


Davild Lee Roth rejoined, Eddie recruited his son to fill in as the bassist for Michael Anthony and with the Drummer Alex Van Halen, the band in this form really lives up to the name Van Halen!

This album….what a refreshing album! If you take out the first song Tattoo, a single that left many fans kind of split, but I personally really enjoyed it, the Album could have been a sequel to the 1984 album with Mr. Roth. Funnily enough, the album recently had his 10 year anniversary and Wolfgang Van Halen (who’s Band Mammoth WVH is really kickass their debut is a mixture of so many things I love! Check’ em out!!!!) had an interview on it and stated that a bunch of the songs on the album were unfinished demoes from those 80’s years.

Back to the Album….wow. skipping she’s the woman, You and Your Blues is a great song, but lyrically it is a lesson in blues standards, from mentioning Red house to crossroads all the way to mentioning Stormy Monday…That really stood out to me and I find a beautiful “name dropping” song!

I defy you to find a prettier riff than Blood and Fire! Such a pretty rock anthem!

Going over a lot of songs, you can definitely hear certain call backs to older songs of theirs….like Stay Frosty, which immediately reminded me of Ice Cream Man of 1978 Van Halen debut album! What a beautiful Full circle moment to this journey that was!

The final song on the album definitely means business and the title speaks for itself:

Beats Workin’…which through my dyslexia kind of made me read it out as Beasts working but hey…the riff that opens this song…is all sort of Epic and the best way to end the Studio Catalog of this Epic and must listen Band. Just listen to the song!


All in all, I must say now I finally truly understand why Van Halen is the Mythical band that it became and why most guitarist love and admire the LEGEND Eddie Van Halen.

Rest In Piece EVH!


To Sum it up, you can tell that I am in love with David Lee Roth, and as a gift for sticking around this long, I added a video of Dave’s screams. They really crack me up!

The running with the devil scream is my favourite!

The man is a living legend and only recently retired on 21st of October 2021..something he predicted in a song of his in the 90s! GOOGLE IT!



LOOOOOONG Story short.


I wanted to try my luck at this sort of long form writing and doing something that I love: Give my 2 Cents on stuff. Hope you liked this BIG review of the Catalog of Van Halen. Let me know what you think of it and if you would be interested in reading another one of my LONG REVIEWS…I got plenty of Bands on my list….like plenty (2 Pages full of band names…..).

Thank you all for taking the time to read this!

Stay healthy Synners!

CJ out!
 

Ed Seith

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    Great write-up! I few thoughts.

    Van Halen III was NOT Sammy Hagar. That was Extreme's Gary Cherone, and it is a steaming pile of hot garbage, and I say that as a superfan of Extreme.

    Sammy has an amazing voice, and when his heart is in it, it can give you chills, but lyrically.... yeah. Still, there are standouts for me. 5150 has the 80s cheese ballads, but overall it's a pretty solid album. Good Enough, Get Up, Dreams, Summer Nights, and Best of Both Worlds are solid anthems.

    OU812 has the bluesy jam "Finish What Ya Started" and "When It's Love" hit a LOT of dance floors in prom season that year.

    FUCK has Right Now, which, when paired with the music video, is wonderful. The piano riff alone is brilliant.

    Finally, Balance has Can't Stop Loving You and Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do).

    So yeah, after the solid 5150, they were VERY hit and miss.

    Next check out Diamond Dave's "Eat 'Em and Smile" and "Skyscraper" with Steve Vai, and "A Li'l Ain't Enough" with Jason Becker's last great performance before ALS took him down. I was really iffy on Dave as a human until I saw how he treated Jason when he was diagnosed, right as the "Li'l" tour was about to take off. He was a true gentleman and a generous and gentle soul in that time, and it wholly changed my image of him in a moment.

    Great stuff, CJ, as always! A little more than 2 cents, though!
     
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    Christian Schulze

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    Great write-up! I few thoughts.

    Van Halen III was NOT Sammy Hagar. That was Extreme's Gary Cherone, and it is a steaming pile of hot garbage, and I say that as a superfan of Extreme.

    Sammy has an amazing voice, and when his heart is in it, it can give you chills, but lyrically.... yeah. Still, there are standouts for me. 5150 has the 80s cheese ballads, but overall it's a pretty solid album. Good Enough, Get Up, Dreams, Summer Nights, and Best of Both Worlds are solid anthems.

    OU812 has the bluesy jam "Finish What Ya Started" and "When It's Love" hit a LOT of dance floors in prom season that year.

    FUCK has Right Now, which, when paired with the music video, is wonderful. The piano riff alone is brilliant.

    Finally, Balance has Can't Stop Loving You and Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do).

    So yeah, after the solid 5150, they were VERY hit and miss.

    Next check out Diamond Dave's "Eat 'Em and Smile" and "Skyscraper" with Steve Vai, and "A Li'l Ain't Enough" with Jason Becker's last great performance before ALS took him down. I was really iffy on Dave as a human until I saw how he treated Jason when he was diagnosed, right as the "Li'l" tour was about to take off. He was a true gentleman and a generous and gentle soul in that time, and it wholly changed my image of him in a moment.

    Great stuff, CJ, as always! A little more than 2 cents, though!
    Thank you for your thoughts Captain. Yesss more than 2 cents for sure XD.


    I knew something was off on Van Halen 3....thank you for pointing that out for me. I will check out DDLR's albums for sure! Love the man's voice and lyrics.