OU812, Van Halen's second album with Sammy Hagar is musically wonderful, showing off Van Halen's ability to write both hard rockers and sensitive sounding ballads. It is, however, let down a few times by bad lyrics and lacks the overall sound quality that is so obvious in other Van Halen recordings.
The album starts off brilliantly with 'Mine All Mine', probably the band's heaviest keyboard based song. Lyrically it's one of Sammy Hagar's more insightful offerings, agonising about searching for meaning in life. This, along with the classic 'Cabo Wabo' give us a glimpse of what the album could have been - one of, if not THE, best rock album of the late '80s.
The guitar based songs demonstrate a freedom of Edward's playing that is rarely, if ever, matched by other guitarists. Unfortunately these are mostly let down by Hagar's adolescent obsessions. 'Black and Blue' is a particular offender with such wit and wisdom as "Slip 'n' slide, Push it in, Bitch sure got the rhythm...".
'When it's love' and 'Feels so good' continue with the 'Van Hagar' theme of having a couple of ballads on their albums. Unfortunately the keyboard sound on 'Feels so good' sounds particularly dated but this doesn't, by any means, overshadow the song.
In the sleve notes there's a prominent 'This one's for you Pa', relating to the then recent death of Jan Van Halen, father of two of the band members and their inspiration. The two Van Halen brothers, and their long-time band member Michael Anthony, could not have made a much better send off. It's a shame that they didn't take a little more control over the lyrics (which they would later lament in the acrimonious split with Hagar) and employ a producer who could have made their best efforts shine.