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Best of Both Worlds

3.8 out of 5 stars 420 customer reviews

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The Best Of Both Worlds
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Audio CD, July 20, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Van Halen rocketed to stardom with their raucous, 10X-platinum-plus 1978 self-titled album, one of the greatest debuts ever. Anchored by Eddie Van Halen s guitar wizardry & David Lee Roth's vocal showmanship, the band's dynamic sound reinvented hard rock. A run of multi-platinum Top 10 discs followed, peaking with 1984, another 10X-platinum blockbuster & Roth's swan song. Sammy Hagar replaced the vocalist, a transition that cost the band no momentum. The Red Rocker's VH debut, 1986's 5150 , hit #1 on The Billboard 200, as did 1988's OU812. The Grammy-winning 1991 release, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, reached #5. This new compilation spotlights Van Halen's always-stellar musicianship over the course of 25 years & two world-class frontmen, & continues the story with three brand new Hagar-fronted tracks!

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One shouldn't have too much difficulty imagining a two-disc Van Halen compilation entitled The Best of Both Worlds. The first disc will showcase the David Lee Roth-fronted version of the band that reenergized hard rock with its titanic 1978 debut and peaked commercially with 1984's, uh, 1984. Disc two will take up where David Lee was left off--from 1986 on, when Sammy Hagar (and, briefly, Hagar-sound-alike Gary Cherone) took over the mike. Well, unfortunately, that's not the anthology assembled this time out. Rather than sequence the selections chronologically and, in the process, display the band's evolution (or devolution, depending on where one stands in the great Roth/Hagar debate), the band has opted for a more eccentric sequencing strategy. After the opener "Eruption" confirms the sass and chops of the young VH, three fairly uninspired new tracks featuring a back-in-the-fold (for now?) Hagar interrupt the flow. Unfortunately, the flow never really recovers, as Roth and Hagar tracks leapfrog one another through the next 29 selections. Three live Hagar takes on songs from the Roth era finish things off in confusing fashion. Obviously, there's plenty of powerful music here, but do fans really need a lesson in what happens when worlds collide? And didn't David Lee earn at least one photo in the package? --Steven Stolder
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 20, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • ASIN: B000286S8S
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (420 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,953 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
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".
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Format: Audio CD
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.
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Format: Audio CD
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.
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