1997 saw the release of David Lee Roth’s first ever compilation, “The Best.”
Before leaving Van Halen, David Lee Roth scored a huge hit with his cover EP “Crazy from the Heat” (1985). With a few hit singles under his belt, and unable to get along with the Van Halen brothers, Roth set his sights on a solo career.
Dave’s early solo career was good to him. Teaming up with Steve Vai (guitar) and Billy Sheehan (bass), the Diamond One released the classic “Eat `Em and Smile” (1986). And although Dave’s solo career started to dewind with “Skyscraper”(1988) it was still a platinum hit.
Commercially speaking, David Lee Roth lived and died in the 80s. The quintessential 80s frontman, who served as the blueprint for all other 80s rockers, simply couldn’t find an audience in the 1990s. It’s a shame to. Dave’s first post Vai/Sheehan album “A Little Ain’t Enough,” featuring guitarist Jason Becker, is regarded by many of Dave’s fans to be his best work. “Your Filthy Little Mouth” (1994), with guitarist Terry Kilgore, is a fine piece of music-one of the most musically diverse and interesting albums I have ever heard. But the album was virtually ignored upon its release.
Because Dave’s solo career hit the skids in the early `90s, it would be easy for Rhino to exclude many of Roth’s later day solo cuts, thus botch up a Dave’s greatest hits. Fortunately, although it is skewed towards the early solo outings, “The Best” does a pretty good job at compiling Dave’s best work.
If you are just a casual fan and want only the big hits, “The Best” is all you’d ever need to own and more. “The Best” not only has all of Dave’s biggest hits (“Just a Gigolo”, “California Girls,” “Yankee Rose,” “Just Like Paradise”), it also has most essential album cuts from “Eat `Em and Smile” and “Skyscraper.” While a case could be made to exclude certain songs in favor of others (why no “Damn Good?”), “The Best” offers a good representation of Roth’s early solo material.
Roth’s later day material, however, is not as well represented. I can understand why the record label would choose to skew the collection in favoring more songs from the earlier works, which, after all, were far more commercially successful. However, most of the songs selected from “A Little Ain’t Enough” and “Your Filthy Little Mouth” are the albums weaker cuts. A lot of great songs-”40 Bellow,” “Baby’s on Fire,” “Sunburn,” “Your Breathin’ it,” from the later day albums would have been preferable to the mediocre “Sensible Shoes” and the okay but not great “Land’s Edge,” among others.
As another reviewer mentioned, if you are a Dave fan, try to pick up all of his albums. You’ll discover a lot of cool material that’s not found here. If, however, you’re just a casual fan and want only the big hits and best songs from the Vai/Sheehan era, “The Best” should be just what you’re looking for.
The songs are not sequenced chronologically. While that may be an irritant to some, I find it makes for a more interesting listen.
The new song, the bluesy “Don’t Piss Me Off” is really cool. It is somewhat reminiscent of “Ice Cream Man.”