Saturday, April 12, 2008


Packed up early and hit the highway. Wolf Creek Pass was shrouded in clouds, a light snow coming down. I pulled into the ski area (only a handful of cars present at that early hour in the morning), looked at the slopes (icy dust-on-crust), thought about my arm and decided it was not worth further injury. I got back on the highway and drove several hours through scenic Colorado to arrive at home by mid afternoon. Back to reality.
On the ride home, I listened to 3 of VH's CDs, including the infamous Van Halen III, featuring former Extreme vocalist Gary Cherone as Van Halen's third frontman. The album only sold 500,000 copies, was considered a bomb and led to Gary leaving the band in 1999. Gary didn't really fit in with Van Halen, and Mike's signature background vocals are nowhere to be found. Despite these fall backs, Eddie's guitar playing is excellent. The album had a very different sound that was largely rejected by two decades of Van Halen fans. This contrasts with the Van Halen III tour which traveled the world, did fairly well and based on my listening to the bootlegs sounded really good. Perhaps that's because they played a diverse set list that included some of the earlier favorites.

You have to look at this album from a bigger perspective. Popular hard rock bands, including Van Halen, maintain a strong presence and are still popular through the mid-1990s. But the music scene was evolving: alternative rock, grunge, post-grunge, alternative metal, nu metal, punk-rock and hip hop were becoming dominant. During most of the 1990s, anything "Eighties" was considered to be ultimately uncool. I personally believe that Van Halen III was a brave attempt by the band to evolve and adapt to the new music scene, an effort that ultimately failed. The consequence was that this was the bands very last album that showcased new music and Van Halen effectively vanished off the map for five years. During that hiatus, the various members of the band did their own separate thing and efforts to reunite quickly failed (except for a joint tour by both Sammy and Dave, known as the 'Sans-Halen' or 'Sam & Dave' Tour!). Eddie had hip surgery, underwent treatment for cancer and separated from his wife. Van Halen as a band was effectively over.

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