KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Thirty Year Thursday – VAN HALEN “5150”

[Welcome to Thirty Year Thursday, the weekly series on my favorite albums of 1986]

Artist: VAN HALEN
Album: 5150

Van Halen - 5150Between 1980 & 1982, Van Halen was probably among my top 5 favorite bands, but I had lost interest by the time they released their final album with David Lee Roth, 1984. Many fans consider it the pinnacle of their career, and it was their highest-charting and best-selling record, but I guess my musical tastes changed and I had grown tired of DLR’s shtick. Two years later I was eager to embrace the next chapter in the Van Halen saga when it was announced that Sammy Hagar would take over as lead vocalist. It would be many years later that I discovered the band that put him on the map, Montrose, but I was already a Hagar fan thanks to his excellent 1981 solo album, Standing Hampton, so I knew he could deliver the goods as a singer and guitarist. Song-for-song, 5150 is by far my favorite album of the “Van Hagar” years. The synths & keyboards that had begun to infiltrate their sound on the previous couple of records were prominent on the first single, “Why Can’t This Be Love,” as well as the ballad that blew me away the first time I heard it, “Love Walks In.” All the elements that made me fall in love with Van Halen as a 13-year-old…Eddie Van Halen’s guitar wizardry, Alex Van Halen’s propulsive one-of-a-kind drumming and Michael Anthony’s solid bass playing & inimitable high harmonies…were still on full display throughout the album. With songs like the soaring “Dreams,” the stomping “Best Of Both Worlds” and the super-catchy “Summer Nights,” the “pop” element that had always been a part of their hard rock sound took center stage, but they still maintained their headbanging credentials on tracks like “Good Enough” and “Get Up.” The thin production by Donn Landee and Foreigner’s Mick Jones is probably my only complaint about 5150. It’s not bad but often the songs lack the punch and live-in-the-studio feel that longtime producer Ted Templeman brought to their previous albums. Hopefully it gets a well-deserved remastering one day.

For a more thorough review of 5150, please check out this post from Mike “LeBrain” Ladano:
http://mikeladano.com/2014/04/21/review-van-halen-5150-1986/


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19 comments on “Thirty Year Thursday – VAN HALEN “5150”

  1. 80smetalman
    January 14, 2016

    Good write up. I was slightly disappointed when this came out because I thought it would be much more hard rock. I always put the shift to the more synth oriented sound down to Eddie Van Halen being so p****whipped by wife Valerie Bertinelli that it was effecting his music.

    Like

    • Hadn’t considered his wife’s potential influence on 5150 but it’s certainly a possibility.

      Liked by 1 person

      • 80smetalman
        January 15, 2016

        It has been said the dates add up and there has been no other explanation put forward.

        Like

    • Phillip Helbig
      January 15, 2016

      “I always put the shift to the more synth oriented sound down to Eddie Van Halen being so p****whipped by wife Valerie Bertinelli that it was effecting his music.”

      Well, faced with the choice of fewer synthesizers or the charms of Valerie, I’m not sure which I would choose. 😀

      Liked by 2 people

      • 80smetalman
        January 15, 2016

        LOL, that might be a tough choice, well maybe not.

        Like

  2. Nice one, Rich. I have to say that the followup ‘OU812’ was far more up my street, less synth/Simmons drums/pop and more live-in-the-studio grooves. Look forward to your reappraisal of that if you haven’t already done so.

    Like

    • Thanks, Matt. I probably won’t be writing about OU812 any time soon since this series is about my favorite albums from 1986. I like the sound of that album more than 5150 but the songs didn’t have as big of an impact on me.

      Like

  3. mikeladano
    January 14, 2016

    Wow Rich you’re on fire lately!

    I am one of those who considers 1984 a pinnacle, along with Fair Warning. I think in this case, the thin production really hurt the album and robbed EVH of a lot of his warmth. It’s a cold sounding LP to my ears. But EVH also said he was rushed, and he was rushed again on OU812.

    Like

  4. deKE
    January 14, 2016

    Nice story and write up Rich! True by the end of the album it sounds like there running out of gas by the time Inside rolls around. At the time though the hype on 5150 was mega..Sammy Halen was a great start for the most part…
    Overtime though I kinda dig OU812 a little more. Considering I couldn’t hear any bass on Source Of Infection hahaha…

    Like

  5. jeff77
    January 14, 2016

    This is my favorite VH album of all. Glad you like it too.

    Like

    • Thanks, Jeff. Nice to hear from another fan who really loves this album. Do you rate it higher than any Roth-era albums?

      Like

      • jeff77
        January 15, 2016

        Yes I do. But it’s such a subjective thing. I was too young to remember the Roth albums, except for 1984. 5150 was my second VH album. I bought it on cassette and loved it. Of course, later I went back and collected all the older VH albums. But 51510 has that nostalgic place in my heart because of how impressionable I was when I first heard it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Glad you came back around to the Roth-era albums, and I completely understand why you have that emotional connection to 5150.

        Like

  6. J.
    January 15, 2016

    I’m not overly familiar with the Hagar-era VH. What I head hasn’t really done much for me. Perhaps I’d feel differently had I been a fan at the time? But I might need to revisit this one …

    Like

    • I guess your enjoyment level would depend on your tolerance for Sammy Hagar, since all the other elements that made VH great were still there.

      Like

  7. galley99
    January 17, 2016

    I am firmly in the Sammy camp. I own all of the Hagar-era albums, and none of the Roth-era albums.

    Like

    • I think you’re the first person I’ve ever encountered who only owns the Hagar-era albums. Very interesting. Were you not a fan of DLR’s voice/antics? Also, any particular favorite among the Van Hagar albums?

      Like

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