“The Best Of Both Worlds” by Van Halen

Artist: Van Halen
Title: “The Best Of Both Worlds”
Label: Warner Brothers
Release Date: 7/20/2004
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 4/5

“Best Of Both Worlds” is more of a proper retrospective for the mighty Van Halen than their initial offering of “Greatest Hits Volume 1” which we found being released in 1996 was and that is based on more than twice the amount of tracks being offered to the fans. The interesting thing is how while the band did have three singers over the course of their history with David Lee Roth, Sammy Hagar and Gary Cherone, that nothing from the Extreme singer is here to enjoy or be exposed to for the first time. Clearly the “Best Of Both Worlds” means Dave and Sammy while the world that featured Cherone must have been in some alternate reality. Oh well, it’s a shame in some sense but his work with the band is something that most of the Van Halen fans would rather forget. Spread across the span of two ceedees the collection is delivered in a very interesting manner as we get a Roth track and then a Hagar one, and then the process repeats for most of the album until they begin to present some of the live stuff which Roth was not a part of. If you own the original collection I will tell you that you will not be making space in your shelf by tossing it because the new songs that were presented on that collection do NOT appear on this new one. I was glad to see this being the case because it would have been cheap and cheating the fans by adding them. With “BOBW” we finally get tunes from “Diver Down”, an album that was overlooked on the earlier issue.

I had to say that I enjoyed almost all of the selections that fell to this release. As a Roth fan first and foremost I had little issue with anything from his tenure but when it came to Sammy I always had felt that the band was changing too dramatically for my tastes. Listening to this recording now some seven years after it came out I found a lot more of them to my appeal. I admit that I loved “Dreams” and “Right Now” when they were new tunes but now it seemed as though some of the more schmaltzy tunes like “Love Walks In” and “I Can’t Stop Lovin’ U” were even kind of good. I guess I am mellowing just a little bit with age. The listening ride is a bit of a rollercoaster though based on how we get some fast past rocker and then a little slower number and that happens a few times across the release. There is a little something for everyone here that is for sure. Much like the original best of there are a few newly recorded tracks that are made available here for the listener for the very first time. I’ll examine them next.

The three new recordings “It’s About Time”, “Up For Breakfast” and “Learning To See” are not all that bad and stick to the format that fans of the Hagar lineup of the band would deliver. “It’s About Time” seems to be the most upbeat of the batch while “Learning To See” has some heavier moments that make this the most crunching of the offerings. It was nice to have them, but I think that the fans would have preferred the time be used for more hits and two of the most glaring of omissions came via the mega-popular “Little Guitars” and “Mean Streets”. It would have evened up the distribution of tracks that is for sure. At the end of the day since there are some new tunes here the hardest core of the fans might want to pick up a copy or at least download the ones that they need via the legal download mediums of Amazon.com or ITunes.

Track Listing:
1. Eruption
2. It’s About Time
3. Up for Breakfast
4. Learning to See
5. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love
6. Finish What Ya Started
7. You Really Got Me
8. Dreams
9. Hot for Teacher
10. Poundcake
11. And the Cradle Will Rock
12. Black and Blue
13. Jump
14. Top of the World
15. (Oh) Pretty Woman
16. Love Walks In
17. Beautiful Girls
18. Can’t Stop Lovin’ You
19. Unchained
20. Panama
21. Best of Both Worlds
22. Jamie’s Cryin’
23. Runaround
24. I’ll Wait
25. Why Can’t This Be Love
26. Runnin’ with the Devil
27. When It’s Love
28. Dancing in the Street
29. Not Enough
30. Feels So Good
31. Right Now
32. Everybody Wants Some!
33. Dance the Night Away
34. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love (Live)
35. Panama (Live)
36. Jump (Live)

Official Website: www.van-halen.com

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