In 1993, at the height of grunge and alternative rock, Van Halen released yet another multi-platinum CD with their first ever live album “Live: Right Here, Right Now.” Compiled from various shows between 1988 and 1993, “Live: Right Here, Right Now,” focuses mainly on the Sammy Hagar era of the band and Van Hagar’s first three albums “5150,” (1986) “OU812,” (1988) and most notably “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” (1991). Hagar’s renditions of a couple Roth-era songs, a WHO cover, a few Sammy Hagar songs, and a few instrumentals round-out the album.
“Live: Right Here, Right Now” has a lot going for it. Many of these live renditions sound fuller than the studio versions, especially songs from “5150″ and “OU812.” Hagar’s monologues, although at times long-winded, are generally interesting, especially his speech about living in the moment in the middle of “Panama.” The instrumentals are more hit-or-miss. And there are A LOT of instrumentals; a drum solo, a guitar solo, and a bass solo. If you’re into that sort of thing you will be well pleased with this release. But if you don’t care for long instrumentals and solos, you may find them tedious. A cover of the WHO’s “Won’t get fooled again,” sounds good, an obvious choice it may be.
The biggest drawback of this release is that it focuses exclusively on the Sammy Hagar-era of the band. It would have been far more desirable to have two CDs, the first covering ‘78-84 shows, (with Roth) and the second covering the Hagar era. But because the Van Halen brothers have always tried to downplay the Roth years and make Van Hagar out to be the definitive Van Halen (see “The Best of Both Worlds”) we get a double-album of the Red Rocker without any Diamond Dave. When the band plays Roth-era material, it sounds good, until the vocals come in. As much as I like Sammy, he never could pull-off singing the Dave songs. While Hagar doesn’t butcher the Roth songs, they just sound goofy, i.e. “got my ass against the record machine”(Hagar’s replacement, Gary Cherone, did a terrific job singing all three eras on Van Halen’s 1998 World Tour). Another problem with “Live: Right Here, Right Now” is that there are too many songs from “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.” Even if this had to be a Hagar-only live album, more songs from “5150″ and “OU812″ should have been included.
While “Live: Right Here, Right Now” isn’t exactly KISS “ALIVE,” (1975) it’s still a pretty good album. While casual fans are advised to stay away, VH fans, especially fans of Van Hagar will enjoy this release. Hopefully someday an official Roth-era live VH album will see the light of day.