Van Halen – Balance

So last week I pussed out and only had one glass of wine, which does not a Drunk Review make. Well, this week I am much further along in the cups department, and I am all set to let ‘er rip.  

And what’s in my sights this evening? Well, it’s another recommended album for these highly serious proceedings from Mike’s site. He’d reviewed this record HERE and I said I’d never heard it. Then I went looking in my CD collection and realized I own the damned thing. Have never played it. Can’t even remember where it came from, don’t remember buying it. So either my CD collection is boinking like bunnies, or I have found the Snuffaluffagus of my CD collection. 

And I told Mike I’d use this joke, so here ya go: I have had wine. I will do my level best to keep my Balance during the proceedings. 

You’re welcome.

So. Turn that sucker on…

The chanting monks at the start are hilarious. So… I’m to believe Eddie’s been meditating? OK! Sure! The Seventh Seal is a cool riff. Sounds very L.A. to me, if that makes any sense at all. And the bass, at points, is pure Poundcake (actually, the whole song is), although during the verses the bass sort of just… disappears. Is that just me? This lack makes it shrill and tinny, to my ears. 

Can’t Stop Loving You sounds thin too. Did they have some vendetta against the bass player or something? Ah! Now they’re at the chorus and I know this song from the radio. Sorry, terrible. Holy crap this is a bad song. Now that I know what it is, I remember it sucking. Bah. Pop pap. And that “hold on hold on, come on” part totally sounds like Def Leppard produced it. I dunno, I mean, maybe this stuff is better in a live setting? It’d have to be. 

Also, I’m two songs in and I haven’t really heard any Eddie Van Halen pyrotechnics yet. What’s he doing, coasting? 

Don’t Tell Me (What Love Can Do) is actually a pretty cool guitar tune, VH-style, but Sammy’s vocals are brutally bad. He’s reaching, trying too hard. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t want us to pay too much attention to the chorus part, which blows chunks of pathetic-ness. Also, over 5 minutes? This song goes on way, way too long. Man, it’s still going…

Amsterdam is a cool chugger of a tune, but it still sounds so thin. This record is maybe Van Halen’s “…And Justice For All.” Let’s all hate the bass player! We’ll pretend it’s there but then turn all the trebles way the hell up so it hardly matters! Still, so far, from this growing steaming pile, this is one tune I mind less. I have no idea what that says about my opinion of this record thus far.

Big Fat Money is a VH super-fast rocker. Finally. Sammy’s vocals are still terrible, but at least the band has kicked it up a notch. Christ, he’s “singing” like someone is jabbing him with a cattle prod. Trying way too hard, and he’s buried way down in the mix so he’s unintelligible. Also the key change up into the… well, is that a guitar solo? It’s awkward. What the hell is that? Oh how I love hearing millionaires singing about money. Ugh. 

Still waiting for Eddie to blow my mind.  Starting to think it isn’t gonna happen.

Strung Out. Now here is a song title VH understands. And, suitably, it’s a fucked up waste of a minute and half of my life. NEXT. 

Ah, the ballad. I’ve been waiting for this to turn up. Piano too, nice touch. Not Enough is weak. Is this where the band is gonna “get serious for a minute?” Oh wait, then the band kicks in. Aaaaand it’s just a slowed down Right Now. Skip. Next. 

Aftershock is the first song on this record that sounds like an outtake from FUCK. I like this song. We’re only 8 songs in and they finally get it right. This wine is making me patient, it seems. Sober, I might have shut this shite off ages ago. And I’d have missed this song, and that would have been a shame. 

Doin’ Time is very aptly-titled. It sucks away all of the cool of Aftershock with… what is that, a messed up bongo routine? Seriously. How high do they have to be to think this is a good idea? Aaaaaand there’s another 1:41 of my life wasted. NEXT. 

Still waiting for some semblance of the Eddie of old. Lots of guitar sound that I know is him, but nthing that blows me backwards. 

The stupidly-named Baluchitherium (if I got that wrong, forget ye not I am drunk and typing is hard) is a too-long wank-fest instrumental that flirts with Eastern sounds in its second half. NEXT. 

Take Me Back (Deja Vu)’s first line cracked me up. Sitting here, he says “I thought I saw you from a distance…” Yeah man, you did, I was walking the fuck away from this album. Pretty acoustic guitars become, well, a somewhat cool VH riff-song? I dunno, at this point I am losing interest and my glass is empty and I’m having a hard time deciding which scares me worse – more of this album or the wine bottle being all the way upstairs and I’m kinda apathetic about going up to get more. I’m trapped. Shit. Please send help. 

Screw this, pause it. I went upstairs. I had to. 

And finally. FINALLY. 

Feelin’… Meh. If Sammy had one wish? I don’t care. This is a six and a half minute frickin’ song. I don’t have time for this. By this point, I hope he wishes for the chance to start this record over. I don’t generally hate on records, but I hold Van F-ing Halen to a certain standard. This isn’t it. Not even close.  Not. Even. Close.

Gimme FUCK any day, over this… whatever this is.

NB. There was some hope that our HMO would do a drunk review of this record too, but it seems he is far wiser than I and has avoided this album. Well-played, Scott

17 thoughts on “Van Halen – Balance

  1. Deke says:

    Well throw in some party treats thru the yrs, I’m sure that doesn’t help the cause !!!
    I remember being jacked when 5150 came out and double jacked when 0u812 came out!
    Man AFU,Sucker In A 3 Piece,Get Up,Summer Nights,Good Enough,u can’t go wrong with there rockers….
    The Balance songs came out live better yeah ..actually Muchmusic filmed the two balance shows in To and that show is floating around on youtube……..
    They were supposed to officially release it but Hagar quitting/fired shelved that idea!


  2. Deke says:

    Hahaha…good review… your spin on it,but like I posted at Mikes site I always and still enjoy VH even at the time when it was released I thought Balance was great…but you know after time when it comes to Sam fronted VH I enjoy the previous stuff more….OU812 and well 5150 would be a damn near tie with FUCK in there as well(I knock FUCK for the production,the bass tone on that is aweful…or maybe it’s my ears!
    So in some regards I’m like u….I have kinda left Balance behind as far as the Hagar yrs goes but they have had a deadly run of albums that’s for sure….
    Caught the Fuck tour and that was a far superior show than the Balance tour that I caught in TO…..but than again I think Halen called the Balance tour the Ambulance tour with in regards to Eds hip and Al playing the whole show with a neck brace !!!
    Them dudes were gimped by than……


    1. mikeladano says:

      Deke, I know what you mean about being gimped…and Alex was even worse after that. He collapsed at the awards show in ’96 with Roth backstage and on the VH III tour the neck problem was aggravated by stuff falling from the ceiling onto him!

      Does he still wear the neck brace do you know?


      1. Deke says:

        When I saw em on the 2012 tour …Alex had no neck brace but his drum solo was down to about three minutes and he played along to like a Mexican salsa backing track? It was interesting to say the least I think the road dog yrs caught up with him!
        Gone were the yesteryear 10 minute drum solos with gongs catching fire and a percussive tornado that was AVH!!


    2. keepsmealive says:

      I am a relative noob when it comes to Van Hagar. I know the Roth years way better. I own FUCK and… well, this one, which I only just discovered was even here. Those records with all the numbers in the titles (OU12345, etc) seem to come up a lot in discussions here there and everywhere, so I’ll have to check those out too. I just found this album really thin and keening. Maybe seeing them in concert would have helped those tunes out a lot. Probably. Man, that sucks those guys getting hurt. Ah, the frailty of the human body…


  3. mikeladano says:

    Well done, sir, well done. I have to say that your Drunk Reviews ™ are very coherent and I enjoyed this very much. I especially enjoy where you pause the CD to take a break before the 6 minute closer. And by the way yes, Eddie was meditating at this time. He’d quit drinking again and turned to, as David St. Hubbins once said he “was using bits and pieces of whatever Eastern philosophies happened to drift through my transom.”


    1. keepsmealive says:

      Haha I haven’t trademarked the name, or anything. 😉 I’m lucky that it’s coherent. Mind you, I don’t ever drink enough to be completely kneeling-to-the-porcelain-g-d drunk because I am still half of the team on kid-duty around here. I had no idea Eddie was trying to sort himself out. I was disappointed that he really, really held back on this record. I kinda listen to these records with the expectation that he’ll throw up a bunch of ripping solos and tricks, ya know?


      1. mikeladano says:

        Yeah and the guitar magazines at the time made similar observations. On the other hand Eddie was trying to change the focus to the songwriting purposely, so that’s what you get I guess.

        I’m glad to say that as of the new album, Eddie’s back to shredding.


        1. mikeladano says:

          I suggest being sober for that one. But don’t worry I’m sure there’s lots of great drunk-review content coming.

          In fact I have an idea for a drunk review. I’m gonna email you.


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