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4.1 out of 5 stars41
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 11 August 2004
This double CD collection does bring together the very best of Van Halen, some of which (especially the pre-1984 material) might otherwise have been omitted from just a single CD. It does include all their chart hits, both UK and USA - this helps to explain the inclusion of a dreadful cover version of the Motown hit "Dancing In The Street", which might otherwise have been laid to rest.
The rationale behind the running order which gives us alternate David Lee Roth / Sammy Hagar tracks has been commented on elsewhere, and the contrast between the Van Halen of the Roth era and that of Hagar's is certainly triple-underlined by this tactic. In fact this is to be unfairly harsh on Hagar - although lyrically he brought a load of silly love songs to the table, the music and production were the responsibility of the Van Halen brothers and it is these areas more than anything else that changed after the "1984" album spawned the mega-million-selling "Jump". They dispensed with Ted Templeman's services as producer and took the role "in-house", then spent the next nine years and four studio albums repeating the "Jump" formula, with the result that the trademark lead guitar sound took a back seat, and and songs sounded little different to those of hundreds of other rock/pop acts.
Some people may actually prefer the later tracks to the early ones - they are certainly very commercial - but I know which I prefer, and I'm glad that seven tracks from the brilliant debut album are included. The three newly recorded tracks are fair enough, benefitting from the more powerful sound that comes with 21st century production, but the three live tracks are a waste of space, sounding more or less like Sammy Hagar singing along to the original album backing tracks with crowd noise added.
All in all a very good review of the band's recorded history, but if you're not keen on seven or eight variations on a theme of "Jump" then you may need to make use of the program or skip buttons.
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on 8 October 2012
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS, while showcasing some undeniably powerful music, becomes, in the end, a mean spirited, classless greatest hits collection, meant at elevating Hagar over Roth every chance it gets. This anthology leaves the fans little doubt that the 1996 debacle of the Hagar firing/resignation (depending on who tells the story) and rehiring of Roth (and then immediate firing) rests solely on the head of Eddie Van Halen.

There's always fierce debate over two incarnations of Van Halen. Personally, I do not align myself exclusively with either camp, as I am a fan of the band's music made with both frontmen, though I do see the advantages and disadvantages of each.

When Roth fronted them from their commercial breakout in 1978 to the Van Roth's demise in 1985, Van Halen was known for wildly inventive guitar from Eddie, over-the-top vocals and theatrics from Roth, and killer live shows. Roth was the prototypical rock frontman: a larger than life caricature who embodied all the fratboy tendencies of the party-hearty rock and roll lifestyle. The genius of David Lee Roth as the prototypical rock and roll front man is his larger-than-life personae, his gonzo rock antics, and his wild, crazy partycentric lifestyle. Much of the appeal of Van Halen was this larger-than-life frontman.

Roth decided to pursue his own (aptly insubstantial) solo career, and Van Halen brought in Sammy Hagar, frontman to the heavy metal outfit Montrose. When Hagar replaced Roth, there was, naturally, no way for him to replace Roth as the front man without an image modification for the band. While Roth was almost a caricature of himself, a party-hearty animal, Sammy Hagar brought a much more down to earth approach to the whole rock front-man scene.

While Van Hagar churned out the slick guitar work the band was known for, they became a much more smooth adult pop sounding band. The Van Hagar years certainly had as many hits as Roth, Hagar always found himself living in the shadow of his predecessor. Sammy Hagar was much more of an everyday kind of guy than Roth, and he simply didn't have the larger than life persona that made Roth so appealing to the band's fanbase. He was the meat and potatoes front man while Roth was the caviar on a yacht out in the Carribean front man. Each has their strengths.

After the brief marriage and sudden divorce with Gary Cherone as Van Halen's frontman (a move that would cost the band their record contract, alienating the large majority of their fanbase; tellingly enough, nothing from Van Halen III is present here - the best of both worlds indeed), Van Halen lapsed into a musical silence that as of this writing still goes unbroken (save for the obligatory three new tracks presented here). Everyone wanted a reunion, but they wanted Roth. Eddie would have none of that. Instead, he brought Sammy back into the fold for three new songs and a reunion tour.

This compilation is a result of that tour. After the band never released the "Vol II" continuation of the 1996 retrospective "Greatest Hits," many fans wondered if we'd ever get a good official sampler of Van Halen. So far, with this addition to the canon, the fans still don't have one.

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS, while it certainly has a well-chosen track selection, plays as just a dirty way for Eddie and the boys to downplay Roth at everystep of the way. Roth gained the band much of their initial popularity, so there's no way even Eddie can ignore Roth's contributions. But BOTH WORLDS is a disaster, because it has this stuttering, start-start rhythm as Sammy and Roth continually juxtapose each other, and the album never really gains a flow. Had it been arranged chronologically, with Dave and Sammy having their own disc, this would be the definitive sampler of Van Halen. This is the perfect example of how track sequencing can ruin albums and compilations, as this comp has all the biggest VH songs from both frontmen.

As it stands now, however, BEST OF BOTH WORLDS just becomes a petty swipe at David Lee Roth, all at the expense of the fans. There are no pictures of him in the liner notes (save the album covers), barely a mention of him, and continual, over the top praising and adulation of Sammy Hagar. Then, to make matters even more insulting, they close out the album with Hagar singing three Roth tunes live.

In the end, BEST OF BOTH WORLDS have all the right things going for it to be a great Van Halen retrospective, featuring the strengths of both incarnations of the band. But just like the band's career itself, this compilation becomes just another casualty in the midst of ongoing ego wars. And who really loses? The fans, that's who.
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on 18 August 2004
I have been a fan of Van Halen for only a few years, pretty much since I started playing guitar myself. My only knowledge before this was 'Jump' and the 'Beat It' sole Eddie put on the Michael Jackson record. The latter inspiring me to pick up the guitar in the first place.
Having been playing for 5 years now and read, bought and learned as much as I could have about the band, I am pleased to see the release of this CD. What can be said about the tracks that we all knew would be included here, they are all classics and the reason we are here reading the reviews in the first place.
But for me the excitement is in the 3 new tracks, 'Its about time' opens up with a crushing guitar and bass riff and it takes about 22 seconds for that clear Van Halen vibe to kick in. A great track and a nice message to the fans that have waited for 5 years to see some new material.
'Up For Breakfast' opens with a strange delayed bass sound that reminds me of the music played in Beverly Hills Cop 2 (shoot out scene at the weapons depo). Classic lines and magical guitar parts. Another nice track that will have people request guitar tabs for all over the world.
'learning to see' come in with big drums and wah guitar, its a little grungy. With softer verses and big chorus it harks back a it, but a great guitar solo that's all about feedback and feeling as opposed to the outright speed and power eddies used to throw at you whenever you looked away. Not as strong as the first 2 but a real 'head nodder' all the same.
So 3 great new tracks combined with all our old favorites, I am little disappointed not to see the inclusion of some lesser know tracks such as 'Little Guitars' and 'human Being' but then we all have our favorites.
More importantly I think the theme of this record is about the old times and to showcase without giving the game away what's left for Van Halen, Its not just a look back and cash in record.
Hopefully it includes UK date in their currant tour, and even more new material.
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on 12 October 2004
This is one of the best van halen albums about, the live rendition of aint talkin bout love and panam, just amazing, how good does eddie want to play, i have got live van halen, and this album just pips it to the post of the best, if you are a van halen fan i recommend you get this to add to the collection of the greatest musicians of all time
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on 17 July 2004
Let me start by saying that the music here is 5 star all the way through, the problem is with the execution. I bought this set on the basis of the track listing I'd seen, but beware because the disc has been reconfigured. Instead of the chronological history, the tracks are mixed up on the basis of one Hagar track, followed by a Lee Roth track. This totally screws the set up.
Lets face it, "Eruption" should segue straight into "You Really Got Me", why then does "Eruption" open disc 1 to be followed by the three new tracks? Do the compilers not appreciate how ultimately crap it is to put a song like "Finish What You Started" between "Ain't Talkin' About Love" and "You Really Got Me"? I could go on, and this compilation does and it's an absolute tragedy!
Why oh why has this been done? Whatever the compilers think, the Lee Roth VH is not the same as the Hagar VH. If they'd have followed the chronological listing this would have been a must have set. Instead I'd say either buy the previous 1 CD compilation or get this and reconfigure it yourself. As for the compilers, whoever they are, you really need to appreciate that music like this needs presenting in its proper context. It's not just product to be sold to the unsuspecting masses. We care and we're getting fed up!!!
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on 1 November 2010
This two CD product offers excellent value for money and has given me many hours of happy listening. Oddly, the famous Van Halen song "Mean Street" has been left off. However, this is the only complaint I have and consider the choice of the rest of the tracks to be very good.
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VINE VOICEon 15 June 2006
Best of Vol 1 had 3 new tracks, better than the 3 here. This is just marketing, if you have the earlier CD, avoid this, it's not worth it. So even if you're new to VH, I'd still recommend the other compilation if you can find it. It has a more sensible running order too.
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on 12 July 2009
Van halen as a band rock and have always had great songs whether it be with Roth or Hagar and this collection brings together most of their best work.
yes there will always be songs here and there that people will have wanted to see included but that's just one of those things and a matter of personal taste. i have always loved the hagar stuff in general more that the stuff with DLR, but that again is just personal choice.

the three new songs are okish but really i would have rather had 3 more classic songs on here sintead of the the 3 new tunes.

it's a great collection from one of the best rock bands ever seen- you really can't go wrong with any of the songs on here and it's fantastic to blast out in the car while your out driving.
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on 20 March 2007
Don't get me wrong, Van Halen are one of my favourite bands, but this is a hideously ill-conceived collection. The way they alternate between David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar songs is just horrendous. A CD for each performer would have been a great idea, but the track listing weaves erratically throughout their career, with no chronological pattern whatsoever. It's a weird, incoherent order that makes this seem more like a rushed mix CD than a compilation. A number of the band's lesser-known masterpieces are omitted, such as Little Guitars, Cathedral, and their cover of Ice Cream Man. And Gary Cherone doesn't get so much as a token song from his (admittedly inferior) run as lead singer.

If you are looking for a quick-start course in becoming a Van Halen fan, then all of the songs are here, but if you were hoping for a well thought-out compilation that gives you any sense of order or band evolution, then you'll have to look elsewhere. If you prefer one singer over the other, prepare to have your finger held constantly over the skip button.

Get "Best of Volume I" instead. If you are still curious about the Hagar era, get the live album, or maybe 5150 as well. Avoid "Best of Both Worlds" if you can help it.
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on 24 March 2016
Van Halen has enough great songs to make a proper greatest hits without having to fill the second cd with three live songs that was a disappointment. the idea of placing a david lee roth song and then a sammy hagar song one after the oter was a good idea those three new songs added at the beginning sucked and should have never been added. you can't have eruption and then one of those new sammy hagar songs it just does not fit. anyway all in all the hits are there but they could have at least added 6 other great songs instead of the live ones and the new ones. mssing are drop dead legs, little dreamer dont tell me what love can do. to name a few.
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