Van Halen – 5150 (1986)

It was a strange turn of events for Van Halen. David Lee Roth and the rest of Van Halen parted ways for some time in early 1985. After a short time, the successful solo artist Sammy Hagar joined Van Halen as their singer and occasional guitarist. By 1986, the group were ready to dominate the charts with this release, beginning the “Van Hagar” era.

This is the best offering by Van Halen with Sammy Hagar, so let’s check it out.

Good Enough begins with “Hello baby!” before launching into a very solid riff driven piece equating food to sex. It’s an awesome sounding tune, which changes tempo midway through the piece. The group sound relentless here in their approach, a great start to the album. The outro is fantastic too.

Why Can’t This Be Love is a great piece by the group. Rocketed along with keyboard riffs and Sammy Hagar’s great singing, it is not at all like David Lee Roth era Van Halen. It is a much more deep and meaningful statement than David Lee Roth could ever do. Plus, it was a radio hit at the time as well.

Easily the worst piece on this album is Get Up. It sounds horrible and also has dated really badly. Seriously, this could have been done better. Although Alex Van Halen drives this song very well with his drumming, it is rubbish. Could have been rethought here. Worth avoiding.

The next piece is much better. Dreams has some awesome keyboard sounds and great varied instrumentation here. Sammy Hagar apparently was hyperventilating during recording vocals here, as you can probably guess from his delivery. A great guitar solo is here as well. Mint tune. Beautiful.

Summer Nights is a great chilled sort of tune. Eddie Van Halen plays guitar very well here, and on the other songs on the album. Although this recording sounds somewhat dated overall, it has great tunes here. “Summer nights and my radio, that’s all we need baby, don’t you know?” Brilliant.

Best Of Both Worlds is a great pop song. It’s about said topic in a relationship, which is about bringing the best out of both ends of the relationship. It is very well done and the chorus is totally uplifting. Good pop/rock music here.

The first real synth ballad that Van Halen ever did arrives. Love Walks In is typically 1980’s and written about aliens. More importantly, it is a song about love as well. It still sounds fantastic today, mind you. Definitely touching and worth listening to. The guitar solo here is stunning and awesome.

The title track 5150 is a somewhat melancholy piece. It’s solid though, mind you. It fits the album nicely, even if it seems nonsensical lyrically. A great little number here. Eddie’s guitar playing here is wonderful.

Inside is seemingly nonsensical rubbish, but it is likely a musical stab at David Lee Roth. Obviously, the band had not forgotten what had happened beforehand. It ends the album on an okay note, although it could have been shorter in length. It’s somewhat humourous listening though.

The 5150 album went to #1 on the Billboard charts and sold many millions of copies. It’s often considered the best “Van Hagar” album, and is worth listening. The divide of Van Halen fans begins here, but that is seriously is unnecessary as the material here is good.

Enjoyable listening.

8/10

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