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The Best of Both Worlds

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  • Van Halen is not only back with its first concert tour in over six years but with a brand new ‘best of’ compilation entitled “The Best Of Both Worlds”. This double-disc set is nearly packed to its limits covering the band’s two classic eras (1978-1985 with singer David Lee Roth and 1986-1996 with Sammy Hagar). In addition to the remastered tracks, the set includes three brand new songs with the return of Sammy Hagar. “It’s About Time”, “Up For Breakfast” and “Learning To See” capture a revitalized Van Halen full of fresh new ideas and a style that harkens back to its classic release “5150″ (Hagar’s first album with Van Halen).
    As for the previously released material, it is a more comprehensive overview of the band’s hits than what appeared on the 1996 “Best Of Volume 1″ compilation. Sure, many of the tracks that appeared on the previous compilation are duplicated here but in addition, there is the VH classics “Hot For Teacher”, “Jamie’s Cryin’”, “Top Of The World”, “Pretty Woman”, “You Really Got Me” and “Runaround” (plus many others).
    Like every “Best of” collection that passes our way, there’s always a downside. In the case of Van Halen’s “Best Of Both Worlds”, there are a few. First, the three live tracks which close the compilation feel completely out of place with the rest of the tracks. Also, the live material (which is three Roth-era tunes sung by Hagar from the band’s 1993 live release “Live, Right Here, Right Now”) is already presented elsewhere on the compilation in their superior studio versions. Secondly, the band’s 1981 “Fair Warning” album is represented soley by the track “Unchained”. Adding the popular hits “So This Is Love” and “Mean Street” to the compilation (in place of the live material) would have made the track list even stronger. Thirdly, not only is there no material from “Van Halen III” (the band’s ill-fated and only album with singer Gary Cherone), there is no mention of it anywhere in the liner notes or the discography. Like it or not, “Van Halen III” did happen and removing it from a career-spanning anthology isn’t going to change it. If there was just one track to represent “VHIII” to include on this compilation, my personal choice would be “Without You”. Forth, there is an abrupt cut-out at the end of “Finish What Ya Started” which could have been due to a CD-mastering oversight.
    Apart from these minor drawbacks, “The Best Of Both Worlds” is a fine collection from this vetran band. It’s great to have Eddie, Alex, Michael and Sammy back together again after being apart for so long. Here’s hoping the guys will re-enter the studio to make an album of all-new material real soon. If the three new tracks on this CD are of any indication, I can hardly wait for a full album. Until then, this compilation as well as Van Halen’s back catalog will do just fine for now.
    God Bless Van Halen. Welcome Back Boys!!!

    Posted on December 30, 2009