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Articles Home » 1986 Articles » Van Halen - 1986 5150
Van Halen - 1986 5150

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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#1 | jeffduran on May 18 2008 10:07:26
Huge Halen Fan and this is one of my favorites from the boys!
#2 | gdazegod on May 18 2008 11:23:57
We need to complete the VH discography up to this album. VH s/t and 'Diver Down' are in the queue.
#3 | sabace on July 29 2008 14:28:18
the best of the VAN HAGAR era!
#4 | george_the_jack on March 13 2009 09:57:27
Despite the above. I love both VH periods the same. This album contains a couple of songs that have made me 'grow' musically... whistler
#5 | super80boy on July 13 2013 15:57:56
This first Hagar album was definitely intended to be a more serious affair than earlier VH releases. I believe they wanted to also show the growth in the guitarist department, which is displayed on a variety of songs. 5150 remains a solid more mature offering.
#6 | jeffrey343 on March 03 2014 20:44:06
I was a big Hagar fan in the early 80s, and I was also a big VH fan. So this combination seemed like it would be a real winner to me. And I must say it generally worked pretty well overall. We'll never know how VH would have evolved if DLR had stayed at the mic. Saying that, though, the three Roth solo albums do contain some stunning material (along with some forgettable stuff too). Likewise, there are some great VH songs from the Hagar era. I certainly did enjoy this one when it came out, and did play it straight through more than any of the previous ones save the debut. I might be in the minority in thinking that the albums improved from this to "OU812" to "F.U.C.K.".
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