Review Summary: Not a perfect compilation album by any means, but it's probably enough to spark some interest among new listeners.
Released in a time when Van Hagar was completely falling apart, Best Of Vol. I
signified a celebration of Van Halen's 22 years as a band. However, back in 1996 they had almost no reason to celebrate. Tensions between Eddie Van Halen and Sammy Hagar had increased hugely, and it became so bad Sammy stopped coming in for recording or writing sessions. As he drifted more and more from Van Halen's spectrum, Eddie decided to contact David Lee Roth, and discuss a possible reunion. Two new songs were composed (eventually finding a way onto Best Of Vol. I
), but Dave and Eddie just couldn't get along anymore. As Van Halen faced a seemingly inevitable risk of breaking up, Best Of Vol. I
was released to try to maintain fans interested and sort everything out.
For a compilation album, Best Of Vol. I
is actually not a bad album, but being what it is, it's bound to be plagued by some mistakes. First of all, its two new songs (Can't Get This Stuff No More
and Me Wise Magic
) fail to make fans interested in a possible return of Dave to Van Halen. Me Wise Magic
is just bad from start to finish, and Can't Get This Stuff No More
shows some promise, but it fails to have an appealing hook and can't compare in terms of energy or fun to Van Halen's glory days. It was certainly nice, however, to add Humans Being
to Vol. I
's tracklist. Recorded for a soundtrack of Jan de Bont's 1996 movie "Twister", it contains a very positive vibe and evidences some inspiration from mostly Eddie and Sammy, beating out most stuff from Balance
However, Best Of Vol. I
is flawed in other ways. Its tracklist, for instance, is certainly a main problem. For one, having 17 songs (3 of which were previously unreleased), it's a bit short for a compilation album. Also, some song selections are doubtful. Why would you want to have When It's Love
on a compilation album? If you want to have a song to represent OU812
, you could have Finish What Ya Started
or even Cabo Wabo
. Besides, why don't you have Van Halen classics such as Mean Street
or I'll Wait
on it? Where's You Really Got Me
? Why haven't you included any song from Diver Down
, where's Little Guitars
? What about Beautiful Girls
, Spanish Fly
, Everybody Wants Some!!
? From a general picture, it's safe to say Best Of Vol. I
's tracklist is a bit underwhelming.
But even despite all of its mistakes, Best Of Vol. I
still manages to do what a compilation album is supposed to do. It can spark some interest in new listeners to become Van Halen fans. After all, it contains some of Van Halen's arguably biggest hit singles, and it somehow manages to evidence its natural party style, even if it's missing out on a whole bunch of Van Halen staples. An obligatory Eruption
serves as a perfect starting point to get to know Ed's guitar genius. Plus, classics such as Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love
, Dance The Night Away
display perfectly why Van Halen became massively famous, showing VH's party style and a great sense of humor, which seemed to be drifting away from Van Halen more and more by 1996.
Even if plagued by mistakes, Best Of Vol. I
serves as a nice compilation album, in a way that it can generate interest in Van Halen among new listeners. For longtime fans, however, it's not very recommended. If you're a longtime fan, and you truly want a Van Halen best of album on your CD collection, get Best Of Both Worlds
. It's longer, it has a slightly more satisfying tracklist and it should keep you entertained for a long time. As for Best Of Vol. I
, despite its already mentioned flaws, it came in a crucial time for Van Halen, considering its internal situation. Sammy would eventually move out, and he'd be replaced by former Extreme vocalist Gary Cherone. Van Halen Mark III would only make one album, a much maligned Van Halen III