Van Halen: ‘Best of Volume I’

van-halen-album-coverVAN HALEN
Released on October 22, 1996 (Warner Bros)

Review: Van Halen‘s first foray into the world of greatest hits albums with Van Halen Best of Volume I turned out to be a prime example of what not to do with such an album.

The first and most obvious error was do not call your greatest hits album as “Volume I” if you won’t be following that up with a “Volume II.” The funny part is that Van Halen did end up releasing a subsequent greatest hits album to Van Halen Best of Volume I with 2004’s The Best Of Both Worlds but the group apparently decided at that point to make like the Van Halen Best Of Volume I embarrassment never existed. Case in point, The Best Of Both Worlds contained 14 out of the 17 songs that were included on Van Halen Best Of Volume I. The only three tracks from Volume One that were not included on The Best of Both Worlds were the lacklustre “Humans Being” and the two new (at the time in 1996) and additional David Lee Roth sung Van Halen tracks. As soon as The Best Of Both Worlds came out, I realized that Van Halen had scrapped the idea of doing a Volume II greatest hits relegating Van Halen Best Of Volume I as a black mark for the rest of their musical legacy.

The second faux pas with Van Halen Best Of Volume I was the song selection on the album. Van Halen released six albums with David Lee Roth from 1978 to 1984 with 20 singles including five top 20 US hits yet the group could only come up with eight songs from that era to include on Van Halen Best Of Volume I. And why would Van Halen leave their second biggest hit off the album? Van Halen‘s cover of Roy Orbison‘s classic “(Oh) Pretty Woman” — which landed the #12 spot on the US charts back in 1982 — could not make the cut? Really? No songs were even included from Diver Down… Blasphemy! After Roth‘s departure, Van Halen released four more studio albums with Sammy Hagar handling the lead vocals and surprisingly, Hagar ended up getting six songs from those four albums on Van Halen Best Of Volume I.

To make matters worse, Van Halen included the Twister movie soundtrack song “Humans Being” on Van Halen Best Of Volume I. The only notable thing about the song was that it was the last recorded and released track with Hagar at the time.  What was readily apparent was that “Humans Being” was the worst track on the greatest hits album by far. “Human Beings” simply has no business being on any Van Halen greatest hits album. Its inclusion simply watered down what should have been a great collection of songs.

To continue with the song selection issues on Van Halen Best Of Volume I, some of the omissions were glaring and almost bewildering. How could Van Halen‘s cover of The Kinks‘ “You Really Got Me” not be included on the former’s first ever greatest hits album? I have already mentioned the omission of “(Oh) Pretty Woman” which was Van Halen‘s highest charting US hit after “Jump” during the Roth era. And although Balance did very well for Van Halen at the time, the inclusion of “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” as the lone representative song from that record showed that Balance simply did not have the quality songs that its predecessor albums had.

The only saving graces on Van Halen Best Of Volume I were the two new Van Halen songs with Roth. Simply put, “Can’t Get This Stuff No More” and “Me Wise Magic” arguably stand out as the two best Van Halen songs released in the last 20 years. The inclusion of those two songs on Van Halen Best Of Volume I justifies the purchase of this otherwise dismal greatest hits album. Considering the lack of activity in the Van Halen camp (only two studio albums in the last 20 years), the failure that was Van Halen III with Gary Cherone on lead vocals and how good the two additional tracks on Van Halen Best Of Volume I featuring Roth turned out to be, one is left to wonder what could have been had Van Halen reunited with Roth for longer than a few months in 1996…

Track List:
01. Eruption
02. Ain’t Talkin’ About Love
03. Runnin’ With The Devil
04. Dance The Night Away
05. And The Cradle Will Rock…
06. Unchained
07. Jump
08. Panama
09. Why Can’t This Be Love?
10. Dreams
11. When It’s Love
12. Poundcake
13. Right Now
14. Can’t Stop Lovin’ You
15. Humans Being
16. Can’t Get This Stuff No More
17. Me Wise Magic

Band Members:
Edward Van Halen – guitar, backing vocals
Alex Van Halen – drums
Michael Anthony – bass, backing  vocals
David Lee Roth – lead vocals (1 to 8, 16, 17)
Sammy Hagar – lead vocals (9 to 15)

Produced by Ted Templeman (1 to 8)
Engineered by Donn Landee (1 to 8)
Produced by Van Halen, Mick Jones and Donn Landee (9, 10)
Recorded by Donn Landee (11)
Produced by Andy Johns, Ted Templeman and Van Halen (12, 13)
Produced by Bruce Fairbairn (14)
Produced by Bruce Fairbairn and Van Halen (15)
Engineered by Erwin Musper (15 to 17)
Produced by Glen Ballard and Van Halen (16, 17)

Band Websites:
Official Website

Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, October 2016

Van Halen‘s “Can’t Get This Stuff No More” song:

Van Halen – Can’t Get This Stuff No More

From their 1996 album, Best Of Volume 1All Copyright claims belong to WMG.

Van Halen‘s “Me Wise Magic” song:

Van Halen – Me Wise Magic (HD)

From their 1996 album, “Best Of Volume 1”. This is the first song that the band recorded with original singer David Lee Roth in 12 years!