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on July 20, 2004
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!!!
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on August 5, 2004
Any casual fan probably bought Best of: Vol. 1 a few years ago only to find that it was missing several of the great tracks played on the radio. The die hards bought that album for the 2 new rushed Roth tracks that were decent but did nothing to add to the original Van Halen legacy.

Move ahead 8 years and here we have another greatest hits album...odd seeing as the band has only released one album in that 8 years and NONE of the tracks from that album are represented here. Seems odd, too, since Gary Cherone was supposedly EVH's "musical soulmate" without which he vowed to spend the rest of his days playing trombone. It's a slap in the face to Gary not to at least include "Without You" here.

So anyway, basically what you have here is a band who claims to have written volumes of music in the past 6 years only to release a new hits package with only 3 new tracks. So answer me this, if you're doing this for the casual fans why not release a single disc "Best of Volume 2" with the new Hagar tracks and the rest of the radio tracks you included here? If you're doing this for the die hard fans why insult them by making them buy 2 CDs full of songs they already have for 3 new Hagar tracks that (just like the Roth tracks on BOV1) are decent but do nothing to add to the Van Hagar legacy? If you've written so much music in the past 6 years, why not give us a new album?

And finally, why the live tracks? They're from a live album that true Hagar fans bought years ago. They feature Hagar on vocals, but they're Roth songs. Wouldn't Hagar fans want to hear Hagar singing Hagar songs? Wouldn't Roth fans want to hear Roth singing Roth songs? So why these tracks? Makes no sense. If you had room for 3 more songs why not give us one of the many radio songs you left off the CD, ie. Mean Street, Atomic Punk, Ice Cream Man, Somebody Get Me a Doctor, Top Jimmy, Drop Dead Legs, Summer Nights, 5150, Cabo Wabo, (Don't Tell Me) What Love Can Do, Amsterdam, etc?

To make a long story short, lately Van Halen seems to be a band that cares nothing about their fans. Indeed, this CD is packed full of great music, but it is also packed with a lot of bad blood.
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on July 20, 2004
Boy, all you folks who bought 'The Best of Van Halen' must be steamed! 'Cause this renders that disc superflous.
Now my (minor) gripes....
1). No chronological order! I thought it was gonna be like ZZ Top's recent 2 disc best of, start at the beginning and go forward. A disc of Dave and then of Sammy woulda been great, but what the hey. I guess this is how VH wanted it...
BUT... it works against them. The sequencing really plays up how much better a songwriter, singer, and performer Dave was. Nothing against Sammy, but his songs fall into 3 categories 1)I'm horny 2)She's gonna give me everything tonite 3)Prom themes ("Dreams", "Right Now"). Whereas Dave wrote stuff like "Jamie's Crying", "And the Cradle Will Rock", "Jump". The man was versatile. Plus he provides us with one of the greatest moments in rock at the end of "Beautiful Girls". Mr. Stud gets shot down: "Hey what's your name?... Hey! Where ya going?!?" BUT, he laughs at himself and shrugs it off ("I love 'em! I need 'em!"). And how many hard rockin' front men are confident enough to pull off something like that?
Plus I think Dave really challenged the band with his songs; just listen to the diversity of the arrangements (especailly with something like "Ice Cream Man" or "Could This Be Magic". Yeah, neither one's on this set, but do you think Sammy could thunk them up?).
2). Three live tracks?!? Yuck. I'da put in "Ice Cream Man", "Could This Be Magic" and "Humans Being". But I guess this is Warner's way of making us still have to buy the individual albums... or download or something... Sammy's diatribe during "Panama" is just embarrassing.
But, all in all, I am very happy with this set. Has (almost) all the VH I want in one convenient package..
Oh, I sent an e-mail to Ice Magazine about the "Finish What Ya Started" glitch. The are investigating (the got a lotta e-mails about this!).
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on October 4, 2007
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS, while showcasing some undeniably powerful music, becomes, in the end, a mean spirited, classless greatest hits collection, meant at elevating Hagar over Roth every chance it gets. This anthology leaves the fans little doubt that the 1996 debacle of the Hagar firing/resignation (depending on who tells the story) and rehiring of Roth (and then immediate firing) rests solely on the head of Eddie Van Halen.

There's always fierce debate over two incarnations of Van Halen. Personally, I do not align myself exclusively with either camp, as I am a fan of the band's music made with both frontmen, though I do see the advantages and disadvantages of each.

When Roth fronted them from their commercial breakout in 1978 to the Van Roth's demise in 1985, Van Halen was known for wildly inventive guitar from Eddie, over-the-top vocals and theatrics from Roth, and killer live shows. Roth was the prototypical rock frontman: a larger than life caricature who embodied all the fratboy tendencies of the party-hearty rock and roll lifestyle. The genius of David Lee Roth as the prototypical rock and roll front man is his larger-than-life personae, his gonzo rock antics, and his wild, crazy partycentric lifestyle. Much of the appeal of Van Halen was this larger-than-life frontman.

Roth decided to pursue his own (aptly insubstantial) solo career, and Van Halen brought in Sammy Hagar, frontman to the heavy metal outfit Montrose. When Hagar replaced Roth, there was, naturally, no way for him to replace Roth as the front man without an image modification for the band. While Roth was almost a caricature of himself, a party-hearty animal, Sammy Hagar brought a much more down to earth approach to the whole rock front-man scene.

While Van Hagar churned out the slick guitar work the band was known for, they became a much more smooth adult pop sounding band. The Van Hagar years certainly had as many hits as Roth, Hagar always found himself living in the shadow of his predecessor. Sammy Hagar was much more of an everyday kind of guy than Roth, and he simply didn't have the larger than life persona that made Roth so appealing to the band's fanbase. He was the meat and potatoes front man while Roth was the caviar on a yacht out in the Carribean front man. Each has their strengths.

After the brief marriage and sudden divorce with Gary Cherone as Van Halen's frontman (a move that would cost the band their record contract, alienating the large majority of their fanbase; tellingly enough, nothing from Van Halen III is present here - the best of both worlds indeed), Van Halen lapsed into a musical silence that as of this writing still goes unbroken (save for the obligatory three new tracks presented here). Everyone wanted a reunion, but they wanted Roth. Eddie would have none of that. Instead, he brought Sammy back into the fold for three new songs and a reunion tour.

This compilation is a result of that tour. After the band never released the "Vol II" continuation of the 1996 retrospective "Greatest Hits," many fans wondered if we'd ever get a good official sampler of Van Halen. So far, with this addition to the canon, the fans still don't have one.

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS, while it certainly has a well-chosen track selection, plays as just a dirty way for Eddie and the boys to downplay Roth at everystep of the way. Roth gained the band much of their initial popularity, so there's no way even Eddie can ignore Roth's contributions. But BOTH WORLDS is a disaster, because it has this stuttering, start-start rhythm as Sammy and Roth continually juxtapose each other, and the album never really gains a flow. Had it been arranged chronologically, with Dave and Sammy having their own disc, this would be the definitive sampler of Van Halen. This is the perfect example of how track sequencing can ruin albums and compilations, as this comp has all the biggest VH songs from both frontmen.

As it stands now, however, BEST OF BOTH WORLDS just becomes a petty swipe at David Lee Roth, all at the expense of the fans. There are no pictures of him in the liner notes (save the album covers), barely a mention of him, and continual, over the top praising and adulation of Sammy Hagar. Then, to make matters even more insulting, they close out the album with Hagar singing three Roth tunes live.

In the end, BEST OF BOTH WORLDS have all the right things going for it to be a great Van Halen retrospective, featuring the strengths of both incarnations of the band. But just like the band's career itself, this compilation becomes just another casualty in the midst of ongoing ego wars. And who really loses? The fans, that's who.
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on August 6, 2012
Although this compilation includes almost every essential Van Halen tune you would likely hear on the radio, there are some flaws. For whatever reason, the songs are not presented in chronological order, which really throws off the flow of the songs. The 3 songs recorded for this album are pretty good, but nothing too special to rave about. The inclusion of the live tracks is pretty redundant and would have served better to add 3 more different songs. The remastering however is great, especially for the Van Hagar tracks that were not remastered before(here's hoping that Warner Bros. remasters those 4 albums soon like they did for the Roth catalogue). If you are purchasing the MP3 album, please beware that Eruption and Panama intros are cut for some reason, not sure if the files are corrupted but since no previous review has mententioned it, it must be only on Amazon's MP3s. If you're new to Van Halen and want the best starting point for the right price or just a casual fan who wants all the hits you hear on the radio, this is the best bet, just beware of the download.
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on August 12, 2004
VH's almost-legendary status is poorly served by this de facto ad for the group's upcoming Sammy Hagar-led tour. The first page of David Wild's uncharacteristically shallow liner notes alone twice refers to the band's new tour and/or the idea of buying concert tix. The two new photos of the band feature Sammy, with David Lee Roth visible only in microscopic repros of original LP covers "Van Halen" and "Women and Children First." (THAT must have pissed Diamond Dave off but good.) The music is not the problem: every chart hit plus key album-rock radio staples Ain't Talkin' Bout Love, Jamie's Cryin', Poundcake, and Unchained (the one that goes, "one break, comin' up...") are here. They sound great with two exceptions noted below.

The pretext behind the packaging reveals the shuffling of the Roth and Hagar hits as no accident, just an attempt to minimize the biggest lineup change in rock history in favor of the current touring roster (Wild's "analysis": "Exit Roth. Enter Sammy Hagar. What happened? In any case..."). Fortunately the era-melding theme was not carried so far as to include stuff from the nightmarish VH3 era with that guy from Extreme. The last step in the campaign to move concert tix worth several times the price of this CD set? Include three Hagar-sung live versions of Dave-era classics to show that Sam can put over the whole VH songbook: goodness, honey, he even sings "real" with two syllables just like David! Now where DID I put that credit card?!

More than most groups, Van Halen has a story deserving major discussion in the booklet to its supposedly definitive collection. Unfortunately this feels like a rush job that needs to replaced by something better in a year or two. A shame.

P.S.: Check your copy for the ending of "Finish What Ya Started;" on 3 copies I've listened to so far, it ends abruptly in mid-note. Since it fades out on 45 and on "OU812," it's probably a defect rather than a play on the title. And--just like on "Best of Vol. 1"--"Eruption" sounds unnatural leading into anything that's not "You Really Got Me," as it did/does on "Van Halen" and on the radio.
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on August 14, 2005
The Best of Both Worlds is a very good compilation of the career of an awesome rock band: Van Halen. I am 17 years old, so I was not around when VH was at its best, but I've found them and for me, their music made me a rock and roll fan 100%. Here are my thoughts on the album:

Pros:

All the best VH music is represented here, much more than the "Best Of" released in 1996. The three new tracks by Sammy and the band are good (not big hits, but nice songs to satisfy the hunger for new work). I do want to say that the artwork for this 2-CD set was the perfect choice. Awesome!

Cons:

Now, there are a few things that would make this near perfect. First, I'd rather the songs be in chronological order. But, it's not the worst thing; the songs are still there. Second, I personally would not include the three live tracks on this compilation. Instead, songs such as "Mean Sreet" (Fair Warning) and "Little Guitars" (Diver Down) would fit nicely into this collection. I also feel that another song from "Women And Children First" would complete this 2-disk set.

Now, to touch on the stupid "David Lee Roth/Sammy Hagar" debate. Again, I wasn't around back when it happened, but here's my view. Yes, DLR and Van Halen were the perfect match. But, I also happen to like the band with Sammy. For those of you who are DLR loyalists, I have this to say: Did the band have hits with Sammy? Yes. Did the albums with Sammy as the lead man sell millions? Yes. Did "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" receive a Grammy? Yes. There's some food for thought.

The bottom line is this: You can't change what has happened. The band was awesome with both Dave and Sammy, and that's why this is "The Best Of Both Worlds."

It is the story of a band that made it's own unique mark on rock history. It's one that I surely love, while rock today isn't that bad, this is great rock from a time when rock was bigger than it is today.

My personal reccomendation is to get this, and if you can, check out the complete Van Halen by taking a listen at songs from their other albums (except maybe Van Halen III, that is!)
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on June 22, 2005
I LOVE Van Halen very much. They are in my top five favorite groups of all time. I love this CD.It basically puts David Lee Roth against Sammy Hagar. There are a few glaring problems however:

1. The idiotic random order. I can put my CD player on "shuffle" if I wish. I don't have a nice "Chronological Order" button however. Even reverse chronological order from present to past would have been fine. Just make a Roth disc and a Hagar disc, maybe put a Cherone song on one of them or something

2. The album's liner notes rudely have no photos of David Lee Roth (unless you count his blurry microscopic pictures on the pictures of the albums on the discography). They say nice things about him and stuff but stil....

3. Gary Cherone is given no mention as existing as part of the band. None of the songs off of the album he cut with the band (Van Halen 3) are on the compilation. The album is not mentioned in the discography section. He is even made fun of in a subtle manner.

4. The inclusion of 3 live songs which are Sammy Hagar singing David Lee Roth Songs. They are unnecessary. They don't sound too bad but its a bit blasphemous to put it on a "Best Of" compilation. Especially since the songs are heard earlier in the album anyway. These could have been omitted in favor of a few better songs.

Some problems other people have with the album that I disagree with are:

1. Others will say the 3 brand new songs on the album suck. I don't believe so. They lack a catchy hook, but otherwise they are really fun to play LOUD!

2. Everybody complains that the song "Finish What Ya Started" is cut off at the end as sort of a clever play on its title... get a life, seriously.

Anyway, its an essential for anyone that loves Van Halen.
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on August 2, 2004
O.K. Let's be REAL honest. Yes,this is a decent compilation. Yes you get all the greats here. Yes,it's missing a few here and there (but they are not going to put everything on there right??Because then you won't go out and buy all the other albums if you haven't already)But they WILL get you to buy the same material over and over again as this double disc clearly displays.

TRUTH BE KNOWN...WE "DESERVED" A VAN HALEN: BEST OF VOLUME 2 !!!

Every fan ran out to by Volume 1 in '96 that featured the two new David Lee Roth tracks. It would have been pefect to have a Volume 2 all these years later with Sammy back at the helm to compliment that first edition. BUT NO!!!

You want a worth wild track list for a BEST OF VOLUME 2 mix (that is keeping the tradition of VOLUME 1) Here it is:

1. YOU REALLY GOT ME

2. JAMIES CRYIN'

3. FEEL YOUR LOVE TONIGHT (or even I'M THE ONE)

4. SOMEBODY GET ME A DOCTOR (if you prefer BEAUTIFUL GIRLS fine)

5. EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!

6. MEAN STREET

7. LITTLE GUITARS (or if you love the covers PRETTY WOMAN,or DANCING IN THE STREET)

8. HOT FOR TEACHER

9. I'LL WAIT

10. BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

11. LOVE WALKS IN

12. FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED (or FEELS SO GOOD or CABO WABO, but this was the hit)

13. RUNAROUND

14. TOP OF THE WORLD

15. NOT ENOUGH

16. WITHOUT YOU (should at least give Gary one track!)

17. IT'S ABOUT TIME (new track)

18. UP FOR BREAKFAST (new track)

19. LEARNING TO SEE (new track)

One final message to the real VH fans,borrow this double disc from somebody just for the 3 new tracks and make your own BEST OF VOLUME 2,which is what the real VH fams deserved. Not getting ripped off for all the same material again! You probably have all the original albums,therefor been putting money in the VH boys pockets for years. ITS' ABOUT TIME you didn't!
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on March 17, 2007
I can remember one day in late 1978, hearing Van Halen's (Eruption) and the entire first album scream out of the speakers of my buddies' borrowed record player in our 8th grade locker room during our half hour lunch break. I couldn't believe what I was actually hearing, but ever since that time I was hooked on Van Halen and I have every album they have ever put out. Yes, even the disappointing Van Halen III. Except for a couple songs, Van Halen III was very difficult to listen to, and I wonder what they were thinking when they got rid of Sammy after several great albums with the infamous "Red Rocker". Anyway, back to 1978 and the David Lee Roth era through 1984. They were the hottest rock band around. Unfortunately, I was unable to ever see them perform live with David Lee on vocals but since then, I have seen them a half-a-dozen times with Sammy and they all have been fantastic live shows. I also own both of their live concert videos and love to watch Eddie's solo guitar performances which, in my opinion, are second to none. Yes, there have been other great guitarists before Eddie: Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Stevie Ray Vaughan, just to mention a few, but in my opinion, no one before, and no one since, has been as innovative, creative and just down right the "Best of the Best" as Eddie Van Halen on guitar. He will always be #1 in my book of top Rock guitar players of all-time.

Alas, back to the album at hand. I actually give this album 5 stars for quality of songs, because some of these songs are some of the best Rock-n-Roll songs of all time. But I give whoever put this record together a NEGATIVE 5 stars as for the order in which the songs were compiled and they left out at least another 5 to 10 songs that could have, and should have been included on "Best of Both Worlds". I have listed my ultimate Van Halen song collection below. Therefore, I have to rate this album as an average compilation of Van Halen Songs. First of all, I wish they would have put the songs in chronological order starting with Van Halen I continuing down through the years, and then saved the three newest songs with Sammy for last, (of which shouldn't be on the album in the first place, because they are definitely not the "Best" that Van Halen has to offer) But if they are going to be included in this disc set, they should have been the last three songs of the disc, so that when you got to end you could push stop, or eject if you didn't want to sit through them. This album never gets into a rhythm due to this non-chronological order of songs. Also, I would like to have seen a little more homage paid to David Lee Roth. Even if he is one of the fruitiest "Nuts" you'll ever see, you have to admit he was one heck of a Front man back in his prime, and sang some of Van Halen's greatest songs.

This is the song set that I would have compiled, had I been the producer on this "Best of Both Worlds" project.

Disc 1: (David Lee Roth) Eruption, Runnin' With The Devil, You Really Got Me, Ain't Talkin' Bout Love, Jamie's Crying, Feel Your Love Tonight, Little Dreamer, Ice Cream Man, Dance The Night Away, Beautiful Girls, And The Cradle Will Rock, Everybody Wants Some, In A Simple Rhyme, Mean Street, Unchained, Where Have All The Good Times Gone, Cathedral, Secrets, Pretty Woman, Dancing In The Street, Little Guitars (intro), Little Guitars, 1984, Jump, Panama, Drop Dead Legs, Hot For Teacher, I'll Wait.

Disc 2: (Sammy Hagar) Why Can't This Be Love, Dreams, Summer Nights, Best of Both Worlds, Love Walks In, 5150, When It's Love, Cabo Wabo, Feels So Good, Finish What Ya Started, Black And Blue, Poundcake, Runaround, Right Now, 316, Top of The World, Can't Stop Lovin' You, Don't Tell Me What Love Can Do, Amsterdam, Not Enough, Take Me Back (Deja Vu), Feelin'.

Van Halen will always be one of my favorite groups, if not my favorite rock-n-roll group of all time. It's too bad the Van Halen brothers can't put their egos aside, get over themselves and get back together with one of, if not both of, two of the greatest front men of all time. And don't forget Michael Anthony, maybe not the greatest bass man of all time, but he sure puts on an excellent live show and bass solo, and you have to love his Jack Daniels bass guitar, (it's a classic, just like Eddie's red, black and white striped guitar) plus he sings great harmony in his own right. And you can't leave out Alex Van Halen on drums. When you bring up Van Halen, everyone immediately talks about Eddie's unbelievable guitar playing, but Alex is one of the top ten drummers of all time as well. Just as Michael Anthony, Alex puts on an excellent live drum solo, it's just that he has been overshadowed by his brother's guitar playing...in any other band Alex would be the star.

Now wouldn't that be an awesome tour. The Van Halen brothers with Michael Anthony together with both David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar doing all of their hits respectively in one live show. Now that would definitely be what you could call the "BEST OF BOTH WORLDS"!!!
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