Van Halen - 1986 5150

edited August 2 in year-1986


ARTIST: Van Halen
ALBUM: 5150
LABEL: Warner Bros
SERIAL: 9 25394-1 (vinyl), 9 25394-2 (CD)
YEAR: 1986


LINEUP: Sammy Hagar - vocals * Eddie Van Halen - guitars, keyboards * Michael Anthony - bass * Alex Van Halen - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Best Of Both Worlds * 02 Dreams * 03 Why Can't This Be Love * 04 Love Walks In * 05 5150 * 06 Inside * 07 Good Enough * 08 Summer Nights * 09 Get Up


When Van Halen picked up Sammy Hagar to replace David Lee Roth in 1985, some felt the decision was a poor one.

Many felt Hagar was a journeyman rocker without Roth's flash or charisma and things would fall flat.

Hagar was in fact an inspired choice, his past with Montrose and as a solo artist was beyond reproach, with material on a par to that of classic Van Halen.

When '5150' appeared in April of 1986 it rushed straight to no 1, something Roth had failed to achieve with the band.

With the single 'Why Can't This Be Love' going top five also, Van Halen were bigger than ever.

Whether they were better was another matter, the sound radically altered to AOR and standard hard rock proportions, with little hints of their once distinctive sound.

The Songs

The opening bars of 'Good Enough' suggest Eddie's guitar tone had changed considerably, it sounded flatter, as if to change with Hagar's vocal style. His legendary dexterity was intact however, and it's a forceful rocker, if lacking Roth's unique lyrical style.

'Why Can't This Be Love' is standard US AOR rock radio fare for 1986, not quite a ballad, but softer in tone than usual.

'Get Up' reaffirmed that Van Halen could still cut it metal wise, non-stop riffs with some fierce pounding of the drum kit and Hagar's classic rock vocals.

The synths of 'Dreams' are top grade, as is the chorus and melodic guitar work of Eddie, who to be fair is stuck in the background mostly, the keyboards assuming the dominant role.

'Summer Nights' is as bland as hard rock can get, both in subject matter and melody, but still fun, although 'Best Of Both Worlds' never catches fire in any capacity.

'Love Walks In' continues the AOR notion, exemplary synth work from Eddie and a far cry from the days of 'One Foot Out The Door'.

The inspired title track features a host of stunning chord changes and an unforgettable hook.

But the offbeat 'Inside' merely mystifies with some demented ramblings from the boys in the background as Sammy explains why he got the gig to the dour harmonies of the chorus.

In Summary

When David Lee Roth's 'Eat 'Em And Smile' showed up a few months later it was obvious who was responsible for Van Halen's original sound, as the album possessed the energy that typified Roth's years in VH.

VH on the other hand became another faceless US rock band, with 1988's 'OU812' a poor affair which barely contained any guitar.

Inevitably Van Hagar was a let-down, with a born rocker like Hagar the music should have been more raucous and harder, instead the exact opposite with the slick approach was adopted.

'5150' remains VH's best post-Roth album by a long-shot, the only time any real enthusiasm was evident, not to mention the abundance of AOR and hard rock on offer, the impact of which would lessen with following releases.

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    edited September 2019
    Over the years I’ve warmed slightly to the Hagar years, but they still can’t match up to Roth. This still remains their best effort with Hagar, a classic melodic hard rock album.
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    geoviangeovian Earth Orbit
    I'm gonna drag this out on the weekend. B)
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