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Van Halen: Three Choices

vh3.jpgThe rumors - or truths - continue to fly that a reunited Van Halen are about to embark on a fall stadium tour. The current line-up will be the original, minus Michael Anthony on bass. Instead, Eddie Van Halen's teenage son Wolfgang will fill that role.

In the summer 2007 edition (issue 108) of Classic Rock magazine, the editor's provide a tip sheet on buying Van Halen. Most every album the band has ever released is considered at least "good." The album to avoid - according to the editor's - is Van Halen III.

Here's a secret: I don't own Van Halen III, and I'm not certain I've even ever heard one track off this poorly rated album. Of course, this is the only Gary Cherone era release, and I suppose that speaks volumes right there.

Does anyone out there own Van Halen III? Would you leave me a comment and explain why it's either a good or bad release?

In the Classic Rock article, the editor's write "Gary Cherone was that wuss who sang in Extreme - wearing a leotard...Van Halen and Cherone were a disastrous mismatch, and produced just one album - that sold on 500,000 copies, when every other VH album had shifted at least two million. The reason is that Van Halen III stinks like a wet dog. Every song sucks, and Cherone sings them like a drowning man."

Wow. This is not a good review people. I did a little YouTube research, looking for some Cherone-era VH clips. Surprised, I found more than a few.

I'll be honest. I watched a few of the clips, and didn't seem that disheartened with Cherone. Yes, I like Extreme, but he doesn't sound like Extreme while standing next to Eddie Van Halen. In some respects, Cherone sounds like a poor woman's David Lee Roth.

I suppose this in itself is a little creepy.

So, let's compare. Here's Gary Cherone performing "Ain't Talkin' Bout Love" during Van Halen's 1998 world tour.

Now, here's Sammy Hagar performing the same song during a Van Halen tour stop. Judging by the clothes, this is a late 80s or early 90s tour.

Diamond David Lee Roth originally sang the lyrics to "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" for Van Halen's massively successful debut album, released way back in 1978. This clip is from the 1984 tour.

So, which is better? You decide.

Reader Comments (60)

I have never actually heard Van Halen III, but I heard it was really bad...
I am an Extreme fan, but judging by the video of him with Van Halen, I don't think he fits with that band.
I personally like the Roth era the most, but I am also a fan of Hagar. Watching the videos, I think that Roth is the best showman, so I like that one the best. The Hagar one is good to though...
July 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenteraXe mAn
Hmmm... Cherone actually sang that better than I thought he would. Still, I love Sammy singing that song.

I also do not own 3. I had heard one track and it was so lackluster, I never bought the CD. I know a lot of people love Dave, but VH will always be Sammy to me.
July 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTyk
Actually, now that I think about it more, my favorite Van Halen song, "Top Of The World", comes from the Hagar era, so I like the Hagar era just as well as the Roth era.
July 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenteraXe mAn
Gary Cherone committed one cardinal sin. He's not Dave. The fans had had enough at this point, and they turned on it. I have the album, there is nothing wrong with it at all. It sounds like a VH album to me. I also love Extreme ( they should reunite for Rocklahoma II, especially now that Nuno is not in a band again ), so maybe that helps, but the album with Gary is fine, to say it's a stinker, is just being trendy. I didn't go to the show ( I wish I had ), but I've seen clips, and he sounded fine singing the old stuff as well.

I'd have said Diver Down is the one to avoid, it's half covers. Even Eddie said the record company forced them into that one. But, my two top picks would be the self titled debut, and F.U.C.K., I love that album.
July 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChristian Graus
VH3 is not very good. Gary is a good singer, but his style and stage antics didnt go over well with the VH crowd. I saw them at Riverbend here in Cincinnati on that tour and was rather unimpressed. Droves of fans left before the show was over. VH3 isnt the worst album ever, just sad by VH standards. In his defense, you cant turn that job down. And Van Halen should have realized that its real hard to pull of a lead singer change once, its IMPOSSIBLE to do twice.
July 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKenny Ozz
DLR! No offense to Gary but I could not even watch the whole video. I've been a fan of Sammy's since his days as the "Red Rocker" BUT...there is only one Van Halen in my mind!!!

I had front row seats for the '84 tour so this video was like a great memory for me (yeah I'm OLD).

I love your blog and am going to link here!
July 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLayla
I own VH III and it's a decent album overall but average when compared to Roth and Hagar's output while in the band. I also saw the tour in Boston with Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Many of you may not believe this but after a great opening performance, Kenny Wayne Shepherd received a standing ovation.....when EVH opened with 'Eruption' and screwed it up, he was booed. Honest truth, I took my wife and she remembers that vividly. It was a great show and I would say that Gary Cherone put on a spectacular performance vocally and visually. The guy is a talented singer bottom line.

The problem with the Cherone era of the band wasn't Cherone, it was Eddie Van Halen. The reason Sammy left was due to clashes with Eddie, the reason the reunion with Dave ended before it started was because of Eddie, and the reason Gary left was Eddie Van Halen.

EVH wanted control of his band. Even though he was the guitar hero of all time, he was in the shadow of two charismatic, and talented, frontmen in Roth and Hagar. EVH co-produced VH III, he co-wrote most of the songs (the writing credits include all band members), he sang lead on 'How Many Say I', and he even played bass instead of Mike Anthony on 9 songs. It's obvious he wanted total control and he is just not as talented writing and producing as Diamond Dave and Sammy Hagar are.

I remember all the hype EVH created. Saying he was finally working with his musical other half in Cherone and then slagging Dave and Sammy. It was too much for the fans to take, especially when they were handed DLR on the MTV Awards and it fell through. Gary could never win against those odds. Of course, when the album and tour tanked, Ed and Alex blamed the change to Gary. I've got to give credit to Mike Anthony who stood by Gary Cherone and has actually revealed a lot of information regarding this period of VH history in interviews.

Also, I think Sammy Hagar has to be given some credit too. Sammy has always been a supporter of Gary Cherone. I was at the show in Mansfield, MA (Sam & Dave tour) when Sammy opened for DLR and had Mike Anthony, Boston, and Gary Cherone out for the encore 'When It's Love' (you can hear this on LIVE: HALLELUJAH (2003). A class move.

Heavy Metal Addiction
July 29, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRhodeislandrock
There's no question DLR is the ultimate VH frontman, even if I've come to the realization he really just wasn't a very good pure singer, but he sold it better than anyone in the 80s and got away with it because his persona was so powerful and perfect for the sonic power of VH's sound. I only got to see VH live at the Monsters of Rock 1988 with Hagar (Kingdom Come, Metallica, Dokken and Scorpions opened that memorable event) and they were still good live. I think Cherone's detractors were so offended because he was the perfect match for Extreme, who wrote around him, while in VH he tried to fuse his identity into a pre-existing sound and that's why it didn't come off so well. I don't have VHIII but I heard it once. I didn't think it was a total piece of shit, but not one I've broken my ankles to get, either. And hey, 500,000 copies may be modest by 80s standards, but in today's pirate market, they'll roll out the red carpet for you with those numbers.
July 29, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRay Van Horn, Jr.
VHIII is an OK album, if you exclude the track that Eddie sang lead on. What was he thinking? The other fact that makes it a so-so album is Eddie produced it by himself, not bad for first go at it with a new singer. I saw 4 Gary VH shows. I saw them at the beginning of the tour it was not good. I saw them midway thru and they were beginning to gel. I saw the last US stop at the Hardrock in Vegas and it was one of the best VH shows I have seen, Gary does a good Dave and Sammy. Sammy never did a good Dave. Bottom line on Gary: they should have given him one more album. Overall, I feel that I have three VHs for the price of one. I wonder how Wolfie and Eddie with half a tongue are gonna sound like backing the shell of a voice DLR has left. ( He was really rough on the Sammy/Dave tour.
July 29, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBumbles
The whole band sounded better with Roth, because he brought more energy than even Hagar could muster. The problem with Gary Cherone is that he can sing, but doesn't put anything into it. Like Extreme, he's technically talented, but that doesn't ad up to much when there's no human substance behind the music. His inability to rock was completely clear in that video.
July 30, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterbobvinyl
How can you say there was no substance to Extreme ? Those guys were awesome, especially the middle two albums.
July 30, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChristian Graus
I have to say I think the Cherone performance is pretty good. Obviously DLR blows it away, but I always like Cherone. The album VH III was a bunch of dildos, though.
July 30, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterVince Neilstein
I have Pornograffitti and III Sides. Both are technically near perfect, but they feel like very good musicians just going through the motions. The music lacks punch and the lyrics want to be taken seriously, but only offer lightweight opinions. Lyrically, they would have been better of sticking to the buffoonery like Van Halen. Who can complain about VH lyrics? They weren't supposed to be serious.
July 30, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterbob_vinyl
OK - I mean, you're obviously entitled to your opinion. I was never a fan of music without feel ( hell, I listened to only blues for about 8 years ), but I absolutely love those two albums. The only thing I'd say is that I'm not keen on Nuno's lead style, but the rhythm and the songwriting, for me, is top notch.

I love how people think that More than words is a love song. Hell, I knew a brother and sister who used to play it at church and everyone would smile at how sweet it was.
July 30, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChristian Graus

You've just given me a great idea for a new blog!

July 30, 2007 | Registered CommenterAllyson B. Crawford
i saw gary cherone live with vh and he kicked ass im sorry to tell you, he sang dave and sammy stuff great' the reason vhIII sucked so bad is because eddie though he was a song writer all of a sudden and tried also to sing, eddie wrote the terribble music too i dont know why everybody blames gary it was eddies fault
July 30, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterglam rocker
Allyson, I live to please :-)
July 31, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChristian Graus
When people think of Eddie Van Halen, they think of the band, Van Halen. When people think of the band Van Halen, they think of David Lee Roth!

Make no mistake...David Lee Roth is Van Halen!
July 31, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterfletch
Being from the Boston area I wanted Cherone to be sucessful with VH. I was a fan of the first 2 Extreme albums, but did not care for the rest of the catalog, bloated and way to much sensibility for hard rock. Cherone brought an infulence of Queen to Van Halen, in my opinion is best left seperate. I have to agree with Bumbles that later shows were far better than early concerts. The clip with Cherone (above) was from one of the first concerts, I think it was in Australia.

Whenever I think of Van Halen I think of the "Dave" years. They set the bar in so many facets of rock too many to list here and quite frankly nothing we all dont all ready know. For "1984" to be the last Dave album is truly great. How many bands have ended their careers with truly "craptastic" albums and just fade away. Look only at Def Leppard, as they limped on, Metallica too is not immune, they are getting the taste of the bitter end.
Heavy Metal/Rock is a young mans game. Bloated music, lead singer ego trip (look at Axl) and drama seems to haunt my favorite musical acts, ahhhh. Van Halen did as well as any rock band to be relevant and long lived. When Sammy came onto the scene Van Halen was riding a good wave, they also morphed into a pop band, maybe not the musical pioneers they once were but relevant. Sammy is a solid front man with a very strong voice but the Dave years rule.

This new incarnation of Van Halen is best left alone. I loved Dave when with VH but he has gone over the deep end and become desperate. Much like an aging stripper. It really hurts me to say this but Dave cannot sing or hit the high notes anylonger and any true VH fan will tell you that Mike Anthony's singing/chorus in many ways is the MVP to VH. I am convinced why none of the 1980's VH copycat/rip offs never even came close to the VH formula is because they lacked a Michael Anthony to back a lead singer. That is why I will fly out west to check out an Atomic's Punks show before seeing the reunited VH show. (By the way the Punks rule.) I want to remember VH when they were truly the greatest and most important rock group of our time.
August 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMarcboston
Performance wise:
Dave, Sammy and then that flamboyant Freddy Mercury wanna-be
Singing Ability:
Sammy, Dave and then that flamboyant Freddy Mercury wanna-be
I echo the thoughts of that bumble that the last show in Vegas w/ that flamboyant Freddy mercury wanna-be was great. But he just wasn't made for VH
Dave's voice is shot and if they want any quality reunion they should include Sammy and Michael. If Sammy and Dave could tour then why can't Sammy and Mike join the tour w/ Dave and the boys.
Lastly If Valerie Bertanelli keeps up w/ that nutrisystem sh*t then Ed should reunite w/ her ....As far as Cherone (that freddy mercury wannabe) Kirstie Alley should eat him
August 7, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterthunderlips

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