1991, Music

For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991) by Van Halen

You know what’s worse than a normal Van Halen album? A 52 minute Van Halen album.

I like nothing about Van Halen the band except for some of (most of?) Eddie’s solos, and maybe the odd rhythm part. So why am I bothering to listen to this? Well, it sold 3 million copies in the US alone. So here we are.

I would have thought that Sammy Hagar, being a bit of a songwriter himself supposedly, would add to one of the band’s biggest problems, their material. But he doesn’t. They still write big, dumb songs with little variation. “Right Now” is what counts as variation here, and it was cool when I was 10 and I thought the video was profound, or whatever, but now it’s not either of those things. (Sammy Hagar thinks this song is deep. So that really tells you everything you need to know about the lyrics on this record.)

Van Halen has done little to update their sound in 13 ish years. I didn’t like it in the late ’70s but I had to accept how influential it was, unfortunately. (If there’s one thing I can’t grant late ’70s Van Halen, they were hugely influential.) But sounding like Van Halen in 1991 does much less for me.

I understand that so many Van Halen fans are obsessed with arguing over David Lee Roth vs. Hagar. I actually find Hagar sometimes sounds too much like David Lee Roth. (Shock! Horror!) But Hagar is clearly the lesser performer from a charisma standpoint. I don’t care about that debate one iota, but I do think one side might have a point: if David Lee Roth made Van Halen fun, what does Sammy Hagar make them?

I do not like this band. This album makes me like them less, somehow. That’s really quite an accomplishment for the “best” Sammy Hagar Van Halen record.


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