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Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Van Halen returns with Diamond Dave, at least for now!

Well, it's official! Eddie and Dave have put down their weapons long enough to make another go at salvaging Van Halen's reputation. Perfect timing for such an event, being that they are being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March this year. David Lee Roth was with the band from 1978 to 1985 until his replacement Sammy Hagar "jumped" in from 1985 to 1996. Both singers are being inducted with Van Halen for being heavy contributors to the band's huge piece of rock history.

Back in 1996 after internal conflicts led to Hagar's solo resurrection, Roth had a very short return only to record two new tracks for their Best of Volume 1 compliation. Following his abrupt ejection for the second time, Hagar and Roth shared a stage on the Sam/Dave tour which was initiated by Hagar. Much of the tour has been chronicled on Sammy's "Long Road To Cabo" DVD, although all you see of Dave are a few short clips from backstage footage. Being that it is Sammy's DVD, it's his concert footage that the DVD is focused on. There is a moment in the DVD in which Sammy reads a critic's review of the Sam/Dave tour. From the sounds of it, Sammy emerges victorious while Dave's performance is scorned.

Of course we can't forget "Van Halen III", led by Extreme singer Gary Cherone. Musically, the album could be honestly noted as a huge step forward. Some of the chords that Eddie threw in were reminiscent of classic Van Halen while others were very different, taking them in a new direction. Vocally, it was a complete flop. Listen to "Without You" and you cannot escape the pitiful attempt made by Cherone to clone the vocal power that Hagar displayed. Cherone was quickly dismissed following a dismal response by critcs and fans alike.

From 2000 to 2004, there was nothing. No news, no hints at what was to become of Ed, Alex, or Michael Anthony. Then in 2004, after a few talks between Alex Van Halen and Sammy, a reunion tour took place to accompany a much more complete "best of" collection called "Best of Both Worlds" featuring the most popular music from both the Roth and Hagar era, including three new tracks featuring Sammy on vocals. Appropriately titled, the first new track was called "It's About Time." From a critics' standpoint, this was a mediocre outing and it was reported that near the end of the tour the same old problems were haunting the band once again, including Ed's alcohol usage. Fans at the final show in Tuscon were treated to a barrage of shrapnel as Ed smashed his guitar, along with any hope of a new cd with Hagar.

Throughout the turmoil, Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar have long been friends and played together outside of Van Halen. Apparently, that eventually became a thorn in Eddie's side as Michael has been replaced by Ed's son Wolfgang. According to interviews, Wolfgang can play guitar, bass, and drums as well as sing. He joined Van Halen for a couple dates on the 2004 tour with Sammy.

So, the question is..........does anybody care anymore?

I'm guessing tickets are going to be upwards of 200-300 dollars. From what I've heard, Dave's voice is shot so basically the only chance they have is if Ed's son Wolfgang has the chops to back up Dave enough so that no one will notice. If that's the case we'll have to hope he didn't take after his dad for vocal ability. If you haven't heard Ed's singing, listen to him growl "Humans Being" during the song of that title. Also, he took singing duty from temporary stand-in Gary Cherone on "Van Halen III" on a track called "How Many Say I". Personally, as much as I love the handful of Roth tunes I can stand, I'm thinking that this tour is going to be more like the equivalent of a grill brush on a dinner plate amplified to 100,000 watts of ear drum terror.

Back to the topic of Hall of Fame induction time...........
Sammy has said in interviews that he has not yet spoken to Ed or Alex regarding the ceremony aside from a congratulatory phone call. In another interview he has said that he believes it would just be a spontaneous thing and hopes that all can put aside their differences and simply enjoy the moment. I'm hoping that his optimism isn't just the foolish ramblings of a dreamer. Nothing would please Van Halen fans from both era more than two see Ed, Alex, Michael Anthony, Dave and Sammy stand on one stage and collectively take a bow for their HUGE contribution to rock music. After that, one or two songs from both singers to show that they're all grown ups and they can rise to the occasion. OK, I know that last line may be a pipe dream but no one knows what will happen until it does so I'm gonna roll with that idea for now.

If you're wondering what side I'm on in the whole Hagar vs. Roth thing, here it is...........
I am absolutely unwavering in my stance that Van Halen was a wonderful band when Roth left, but they became an icon once Sammy Hagar joined. Of course you'll want to know why I feel as I do and I'll tell you. Sammy Hagar has been recording music for more than 30 years and his solo career has been highly successful in and out of Van Halen. Quickly after his fallout with the VH brothers, Hagar went to the studio and put out a terrific album "Marching To Mars." A few albums later, he created what I consider his best solo cd since Standing Hampton titled "Ten 13". Of course for all Hagar fans you know this to be a nod to his birthday (Oct.13). Sammy is approaching the 60-year mark and shows no sign of slowing down. Ask anyone who's seen Sammy since Van Halen and they'll tell you that above all, he's just out there playing for the fans who still know that "There's Only One Way To Rock", and Sammy knows just how.

Following Roth's departure he made a few cd's that did nothing more to prove that his music career apart from Van Halen was just a bad idea. So Dave is back and willing to take another beating from Ed and Alex in hopes that maybe, just maybe, this time something good may come of it.

To keep up on Van Halen updates, check out the
Van Halen News Desk or the band's main page http://www.van-halen.com.

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