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Articles Home » 1988 Articles » Van Halen - 1988 OU812
Van Halen - 1988 OU812

ARTIST: Van Halen
LABEL: Warner Bros
SERIAL: 9 25732-1 (vinyl), 9 25732-2 (CD)
YEAR: 1988


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

TRACK LISTING: 01 A.F.U (Naturally Wired) * 02 Black And Blue * 03 Cabo Wabo * 04 Feels So Good * 05 Finish What Ya Started * 06 Mine All Mine * 07 Source Of Infection * 08 Sucker In A 3 Piece * 09 When It's Gone

WEBLINKS: www.van-halen.com

When Van Halen fans sit down and dissect the discography of their favourite band, you can guarantee that their 1988 album 'OU812' will come in for some ribbing. Universally scorned, 'OU812' in my mind is similar to Dare's 'Blood From Stone', or Boston's 'Corporate America'. Personally, after giving it a good listen, it would be fair to say that it's not as good as its predecessor '5150' or even '1984' which is an outright 80's hard rock classic - but it's also not the complete waste of space that many say it is. VH continued to move away from their Dave Lee Roth era and style, becoming more commercial and appearing to mix it with other MTV contemporaries. With Sammy Hagar in the band, 'OU812' appeared to be more of a cohesion between VH's party anthems immersed in Hagar's own party tricks previously displayed on his own solo albums, whereas '5150' was more or less a completed product before Sammy joined. Given that the band had been out on the road since 1986, 'OU812' is probably Van Hagar's best and truest representation.

The Songs
If there is one immediate observation with 'OU812', it's that the guitars of Eddie Van Halen are not as prominent - pushed slightly back in the mix. It's also not as OTT synth heavy as it was on '5150', just preferring to keep the colour in the background rather than garishly upfront. There are number of stylistically different songs on here, ranging from blues, cowpoke acoustic, to the usual selection of party rockers the band is famous for. The opening duo of 'Mine All Mine' and the single 'When It's Love' are comparable to anything commercial previously achieved by the band. 'Cabo Wabo' is obviously an ode written by Hagar, who has a pre-occupation with Mexico and Tequila! Not quite sure about 'Source Of Infection' which sounds a bit loose, and harks back to the Roth era with its improvised and 'jam' like arrangement. The acoustic 'Finish What Ya Started' provides the first point of difference while 'A Apolitical Blues', a Lowell George (Little Feat) composition also makes its way onto the album - the hard wired blues sound proving that VH can improvise with the best of them! Elsewhere, 'A.F.U. (Naturally Wired)' and 'Sucker In A 3 Piece' give the masses what they want - a couple of true-blue VH rockers in that familiar bullocking style.

In Summary
Some have remarked that the album's production is not the best, and upon hearing it, I would agree. Somehow the backend is sucked down into the lower reaches, as mentioned the guitar is pushed back while the synth mix is also a tad under-produced, though that might have been done deliberately. Despite that, the album has its redeeming features, and a few of the songs ended up being concert favourites. When history is reviewed, 'OU812' should be remembered fairly, rather than unjustly. Perhaps this is an album which requires a remastered re-release to realise its true potential? Hmmm..

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Tags: Van Halen 
#1 | jeffrey343 on March 03 2014 20:59:40
This came out the summer before my last semester of college, and it got a lot of spins over the next several months. I liked the Hagar era, and this was a pretty good album to me. They took a few more chances on here than they did on "5150". Mostly it worked. "Finish What Ya Started" is definitely a different style, but it is catchy as hell. They may not sound quite as distinctive on this album, but it didn't stop me from enjoying it immensely. I could do without "A Apolitical Blues", though - thanks to the joy of technology, I can easily avoid that one.
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