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VAN HALEN - Discography Review

In our discography reviews we will rank all full-length studio albums from important heavy metal, hard rock and punk bands from best to worst ... with accompanying rationale and scores, of course. This time we review - Van Halen!

1. Van Halen II (1979) The band's second album gets the nod over the first just because of pure consistency. The worst song on II ("Women in Love") is better than the worst song on the first album ("Little Dreamer"). Otherwise, it's a pick 'em. Highlights: pretty much every other song. (9.5)

2. Van Halen (1978) The debut album is considered a classic by anyone who has ears and likes hard rock or heavy metal. The energy, the song writing, the guitar. Highlights: "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love" and "On Fire" stand out among many stand outs. (9.5)

3. Women and Children First (1980) The third album saw a deterioration from the first two with regard to song writing, but was still strong enough to be considered a great album. Highlights: "Romeo Delight" and "In a Simple Rhyme". (8.5)

4. Balance (1995)

The band abandoned the pop-rock sound that infected them for far too many albums and went for straight-forward hard rock. Mostly mid-pacers, but it is still Sammy Hagar's highlight album with the band, based on the heaviness. Highlights: "Big Fat Money", "Aftershock", "Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do"). (8)

5 Fair Warning (1981)

Van Halen's fourth album was the first warning sign of a bad decline to come. Some grade A stuff with "Unchained" , "Sinner's Swing!" and "One Foot Out the Door", but overall far too much mid-paced filler. (7)

6. A Different Kind of Truth (2012)

David Lee Roth's first album with the band in almost 30 years is seen by most as a return to form due to its undeniable heaviness. But Roth's voice had deteriorated badly over the decades and the songs, which were mostly left overs from the 70s, clearly showed why they were originally left off of the early albums. It could have been a classic if the band had spent some time re-writing the songs to give them decent choruses and hooks. Highlights: none...most of the songs are good, none are great. (6.5)

7. 5150 (1986)

An improvement over the last two Roth albums of the 80s, Hagar's first album with the band was still a fairly light affair, but you could tell the guys had at least spent some quality time writing the songs. Highlights: "Get Up", "Dreams", "Why Can't This Be Love". (6.5)

8. For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991)

A similar effort to 5150, with too many mid-paced generic rockers. No really bad songs, but few to write home about either. Standout tracks: "Poundcake", "Right Now", "Top of the World". (6.5)

9. OU812 (1988)

The weakest Hagar album suffers from the same ails as most of the others. Too many mid-paced generic arena rockers, too few stand outs ("Source of Infection", "A.F.U. (Naturally Wired)", and the pop-rock "When It's Love" being the exceptions). No real bad songs, but too few really good ones. (6)

10. 1984 (1984)

Roth's last album before he split suffers from choppy song writing quality. Some songs are just garbage ("I'll Wait", "Drop Dead Legs"), some are very good ("Panama", "Hot for Teacher"), most are just forgettable. (6)

11. Diver Down (1982)

The fifth album confirmed to the faithful that the band were too busy partying to be bothered writing decent songs. Full of forgettable covers and a few unoriginal originals, the hardcore abandoned them in droves after this stinker. Highlight: "The Full Bug". Lowlights: everything else. (4)

12. Van Halen III (1998)

Vocalist Gary Cherone's sole entry in the catalog put the band in a coma for most of the decade following with it's insipid mediocrity. To be fair though, most of the songs were of the same ilk as the bulk of Hagar and latter era Roth songs, but the fans were not in a mood to be forgiving with a new vocalist. Highlights: not a single one, but "Ballot or the Bullet" may not put you to sleep by the end. (4)

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