Van Halen

The Best of Both Worlds (Rhino)

Ain't talkin' 'bout good: "Eruption" opens disc one of this alleged best-of two-fer, then slides into three new songs from the reunited Van Hagar, a trio of overwrought, oversung, under-thought tracks so terrible they wouldn't even make the cut on a worst-of. "You Really Got Me" finally arrives six tracks later, too little and too goddamned late; if you haven't skipped ahead already, it's because you've gone back to the CD store to return this collection for pennies on the dollar, which is more than it's worth. The chronology (nonexistent) and selections (too much Sammy, of which one song is way too much) suggest these schmucks have no idea what made 'em any damned good in the first place. Or maybe it was compiled by someone who hates the band--Eddie's my guess. "We're not a nostalgia band," the freezer unit of rock and roll told Guitar Worldin 1996. "I would never just take somebody's money for playing old songs to bring back memories." Guess that's why The Best of Both Worlds is the second VH compilation in eight years, during which time the band released and promptly forgot all about Van Halen IIIwith...with...whasshisname.

And how's this for a fan's fuck-you? Closing disc two are three David Lee, ah, er, classics dumped on by Sammy: "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love," "Panama" and "Jump," performed live and rendered dead on arrival by the clown who could never replace the clown prince of cock and roll. In total you get 36 tracks, 14 of which were among the 17 on 1996's Best of Van Halen Vol. 1 and 19 of which feature Hagar on lead vocals. Who are they trying to kid? Themselves, mostly, by ignoring the best of the first six records (no "Atomic Punk," "D.O.A.," "Mean Streets," the bulk of Women and Children First), reconfiguring the rest and including twotracks from Balance, which may be the worst album ever made by a band with Sammy H., Montrose included. How awful is this? I got it for free and still want my money back.

 
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