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Van Halen III

2.6 out of 5 stars 483 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 17, 1998
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VAN HALEN VAN HALEN 3

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Having jettisoned yet another lead singer, casting off meat-and-potatoes rocker Sammy Hagar for leaner, cleaner former Extreme vocalist Gary Cherone, Van Halen ushers in its third incarnation with the appropriately titled 3. Trouble is, as a lyricist, Cherone too often speaks from the head, not the heart, filling the album with political cant that is dry and ill-suited to the band's party-hearty image. Worse, Cherone sounds disconcertingly like Hagar, giving 3 the uncomfortable feel of a tribute album. And while Eddie Van Halen's guitar still mows down anything in sight on tracks like "Neworld" and "From Afar," it's difficult to excuse his new-agey keyboard epic "How Many Say I," or his tentative lead vocal on the track. In a rare instance for a great band, it's one step forward, two steps back. --Daniel Durchholz
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 17, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Bros / Wea
  • ASIN: B000002NGS
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (483 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,472 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
VAN HALEN III is easily Van Halen's most critically reviled, hated album. The fans were shocked and dismayed, and ultimately this album lost Van Halen's record contract with Warner. And why?

First off, the album is not as bad as everything says. It's certainly not a great Van Halen record, but if Gary Cherone's band had released it, people would be wondering who the hell that guitarist was. In many ways, VAN HALEN III has a lot of similarities to Pink Floyd's FINAL CUT.

The biggest problem with III is tone. With BALANCE, and a handful of tracks from BALANCE's predecessor, FOR UNLAWFUL CARNAL KNOWLEDGE, Eddie was trying to move Van Halen away from the party-hearty image that so long defined them, and was trying to reinvent the band as a socially conscious, more mature band. BALANCE found Van Halen balancing two major defitinions of their band, the partying, feel-good rock and rollers ("Amsterdam", "Big Fat Money,") with the more politically aware, socially concerned world citizens. (a la U2's Bono) The problem with that is Sammy Hagar was in the band. While I've always liked Sammy, he's always been about partying and getting into girls' pants (but then, so was David Lee Roth and the rest of the band).

Exit Hagar, enter Cherone. While Hagar wrote and sang from the heart and gut, and just wanted to hang out on a beach somewhere with a hot chick, Cherone instead wrote much more from a head perspective, preoccupied with intellectual concerns. Cherone has some songs about women, but the songs on III are primarily concerned with political and social matters.

Some of these political, social songs fall flat.
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Format: Audio CD
Former Extreme frontman Gary Cherone only lasted one record with Van Halen, but he acquitted himself admirably on vocals and lyrics. The Sammy bit was growing old, and VH was in danger of becoming a Pop band with Sammy-led hits like "I Can't Stop Lovin' You". Cherone writes interesting lyrics that don't always involve thoughts originating below the waist. And the songs "Dirty Water Dog", "Fire In The Hole", and "Without You" from "VH3" are as good as any rock songs VH ever recorded. But I hate to tell you, Eddie Van Halen, but "How Many Say I" was a misstep. "VH3" is uneven, but the stuff that works works really well. Perhaps starting with a new lead singer was a bad time to get a little experimental with the tunes, eh? Cherone proved with Extreme that he is a superbly talented vocalist, lyricist, and songwriter. Too bad he didn't get the chance to grow with Van Halen. Eddie said in early interviews with Cherone that this incarnation of Van Halen would be the LAST incarnation. So now what are you guys gonna do? ** I've seen Van Halen in concert 9 times and with all the lead singers. The shows with Cherone were the best! The band played from their entire catalog, and proved that the Dave-era tunes were the best ones to play live. Cherone did a great job with them. Van Halen, had they cut a more "traditional" Van Halen album with Cherone, might have had many years of continued success ahead of them. But this is turning into a soap opera. It's getting a little embarrassing to watch. Just how long do they think they can play musical chairs with lead singers and still be respected by their fan base? Even if the music is good, it will always be overshadowed by the soap opera. Always. Is VH3 good? Parts of it are GREAT. The rest should have been "re-thought" before releasing.
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Format: Audio CD
On St. Patrick's Day 1998, Van Halen released their eleventh studio album, their first (and only) album to feature lead singer Gary Cherone. The aptly titled "Van Halen 3" received some positive reviews (Entertainment Weekly, Guitar World) and debuted at number 4 on the charts. At first it looked like Van Halen's third incarnation might fly. An enthusiastic audience at the world premiere, and a huge turnout to meet the band at Times square were positive signs. But alas, Van Halen's third incarnation was not meant to be. The album was a huge bomb, selling only 500,000 copies in the US, one quarter the sales of its predecessor "Balance" (1995). The tour too was a relative failure. Van Halen's third incarnation turned out to be very short-lived. The following year, while well at work on their follow-up, Gary Cherone and the rest of Van Halen parted ways. The whole Gary Cherone-era of Van Halen was seen as a failure. "3" is regarded by many as not only Van Halen's worst album, but as the worst album of all-time.

So why didn't fans take to the third lineup of Van Halen, especially when you consider that they had adjusted to a change in singers before? Why did the rock-community so reject "Van Halen 3"? The answer lies in anger/protest, and expectations.

Many fans didn't buy or open their minds to "Van Halen 3" out of protest and anger towards the band. In 1996, after eleven years of fronting the band, Sammy Hagar, Van Halen's second lead singer, left the band, and not amicably. Eddie Van Halen maintains that Hagar quit and that his "work ethic sucked." Hagar maintains that he was informed, by phone, that original lead singer David Lee Roth was returning and that his services were no longer required.

The return of Roth to Van Halen created a media sensation.
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