REVIEW: Van Halen – “Best of Both Worlds” 7″ picture sleeve single

I’ve been hinting at this for a couple weeks now.   No more teasing!  For this is…THE WEEK OF SINGLES!  Each day this week I’ll be bringing you reviews and images of a recent single acquisition.  For the purpose of this week, EPs count as singles.  First up comes one I teased you about in my Overload of Van Vinyl gallery.

 

VAN HALEN – “Best of Both Worlds” (1986 Warner 7″ single)

Craig Fee returned with this single (among many) from Jerry’s Records in Pittsburgh.  It was actually $3, not the $2 on the sticker (no big deal).  About the store itself, Craig says:

Jerry’s Records in Pittsburgh has incredible online reviews for a reason.  When I was last there, Jerry and I chatted about the legendary Peter Dunn’s Vinyl Museum(s) in Toronto.  We laughed about the random samples of Bible verse stamped on every single record sleeve that Peter sold.  It was completely over the top!  Glad to hear I wasn’t the only one who WTF’d the first time I encountered it.  

I asked Craig to pick up any Van Halen singles with picture sleeves that he could find.  Of those, “Best of Both Worlds” has one of the least interesting covers.  No pictures of the band, just a generic looking sketch of a globe and two jet planes.  Not even a proper Van Halen logo to be found.  This lack of anything amusing on the cover is compensated for by the exclusivity of the tracks.

The A-side is a version that I didn’t have before.  It’s a 3:58 edit version of the song, chopping 50 seconds out.  The edit is quite noticeable at the 1:00 mark, where the second verse is chopped out, and then replaced after the chorus.  It’s into the guitar solo from there, and then the final verse.   Missing is the “There’s a picture in a gallery, of a fallen angel looked a lot like you,” verse.

Van Halen never released the ubiquitous Live Without a Net home video on any kind of official audio format.  Some of those songs, such as the live version of “Love Walks In” did make it onto an unofficial CD called In Concert (found at Encore Records in Kitchener).  “Best of Both Worlds” did not make it onto In Concert, but here it is on the B-side.  It’s live in New Haven, complete with the extended intro, bringing the track to over 6 minutes.  The intro features Eddie and Sammy doing a fun call and response bit and I’m glad it wasn’t edited out for the single release.  I’ll always have a fondness for the old Live Without a Net versions.  Back in ’86-88 I didn’t have the money to buy every single album by bands that I liked.  I didn’t have 5150, and Live Without a Net was on TV enabling me to record it.  Therefore I probably know this version of “Best of Both Worlds” better than the 5150 version!  It’s a little tougher, where the album version’s a tad too sterile.

I don’t mind this song.  It’s not a Van Halen classic, but it’s still catchy.  Unlike some of the other singles, it wasn’t keyboard based.  That gave it an edge to my 16 year old self who didn’t like keyboards as much as guitars.  Craig on the other hand had a different reaction to it:

“Best Of Both Worlds” is the song that might’ve been the catalyst for my divorce of Van Hagar as the logical continuation of my favourite band.  The lyrics are absolute fucking cornball nonsense.  Look them up.  You’ll see what I mean.  The Live Without A Net version on the B-side of the single brought me vivid flashbacks of those awful pink sweat pants Eddie wore onstage for the concert video.  Those terrible Sammy and Mike harmonies.  That cheesy walk Mike, Sammy and Ed did onstage.  Sammy’s spray painting of the shoes and the accompanying ad-lib were possibly the lamest shit I’ve ever heard.  Do you think David Lee Roth would’ve had a pair of fucking SHOES thrown onstage?  Hell no!  There’s a reason I don’t own a copy of this myself.

He does have some valid points there.  Thankfully this 7″ single contains just the music, and not those cheeseball visuals!  Why was Eddie so into sweat pants?  I blame Sammy Hagar.  For me, this was a great find and a great way to kick off Singles Week at LeBrain HQ.  Check back tomorrow for another rarity!  (A brand new release in fact.)

4/5 stars

More VAN HALEN at mikeladano.com:

A Different Kind of Truth (2012) – The Best of Both Worlds (2005 2 CD set) – Record Store Tales Part 186: The Van Halen TinVan Halen III (limited edition tin) – “Can’t Stop Loving You” (1995 single tin) – “Right Now” (1992 cassette single)

30 comments

  1. I always had a problem with this song…I agree it seems to be the death nail anthem for no more Roth era Van Halen. It also had a vibe like it was conceived as an acoustic song and maybe should’ve stayed in that form. Odd that the packaging is so generic.

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    1. I think you’re right. It is very easy to imagine this song unplugged. Sammy has said they were a lot of these songs, just him and Eddie, jamming away at 4 am so I’m sure acoustics were involved at some point.

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      1. I’ve been listening to a ton of the first 6 albums lately and been meaning to check out the Sammy albums again. I liked them at the time but have a hard time going back to some those songs…

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        1. I understand that, it’s hard to go from DLR to Sammy like that. I’ve been on a major VH kick lately, which is good…it might just lead to a whole series of reviews…

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  2. That’s a nice rare B-Side there! Never seen this single before. And I always liked the song personally. Maybe not typical VH but a good song nonetheless. I thought it was the production that let it down if anything, it’s a bit lame sounding.

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      1. Carnal Knowledge was definitely amazing sounding. I believe that was Ted Templeman and Andy Johns on that one. Definitely the heaviest of Van Hagar. Unfortunately there are a lot of songs I don’t like on it. Pleasure Dome (although I love the drums), Spanked, and Runaround are three that I did not like.

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    1. Yeah, as I said I always felt 5150 was kind of sterile sounding. I just listened to OU812 in the car last week again and it sounded fuller. Unfortunately it also had some weird filler stuff on it like AFU and Source of Infection.

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      1. Sterile is a good word for 5150 and it’s a shame cause I like the songs. I hardly listen to OU812, I’ll need to give that one some more time. Funny that you singled out Pleasure Dome and Runaround as ones you don’t like from Carnal, those are two of my favourites on that album!

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        1. Interesting. I don’t know why, but much of that album does nothing for me. Poundcake was great, Top of the World was great, The Dream is Over was pretty good, and Judgement Day kicks ass. That’s about all that album has for me!

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        2. I like the whole thing. Some songs have stood out more as filler as time has gone by, the album flags a bit at In N’ Out and Man on a Mission but they’re still ok songs and it still gets regular plays at HMO Mission Control!

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        3. Not at LeBrain HQ though! I forgot those two songs — two more that didn’t appeal to me.

          But you know what appealed to me less? When they did darn near the whole album live, on Right Here Right Now, surely one of the most disappointing live albums of all time.

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        4. Well Scott, I don’t know. Despite the Best Of albums, Van Halen have never seemed like the kind of band that likes looking back. You have to know that one day these kinds of things will be released, but they face the inevitable fan backlash for any perceived shortcomings in box sets/DVDs/whatever, due to how long we’ve waited.

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        5. For me personally, the Holy Grail of Van Halen would be an official release of the early demos, particularly the Gene Simmons demos. We all have bootleg mp3 files, but you know that’s nothing compared to what the sonic clarity of a remastered track can be.

          But you know, Van Halen are still an active band, and I think it’s reasonable to expect at least one more album, eventually. So as long as there’s new music, I’m cool. That dry spell from 1999-2012 was pretty awful though.

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  3. That’s a cool single. You’re a very lucky man that Craig brought this stuff back for you. I watched the live video you embedded, I’m with Craig. Some silly stuff. Still, not a bad tune. Carnal is the only Van Hagar I have here, I think. It’s one of those records that hit me the right way at the right time. Even if I tire of it eventually, nostalgia will make me keep it. As for the trackpants, well, let’s just say that for someone with a history of enthusiastically partaking of substances at varying times, track pants would prove themselves eminently practical very quickly, given certain situations.

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      1. Yeah but this was the 80’s and Van Halen weren’t exactly high fashion to begin with. Without Roth in the fold they became very jeans and t-shirt. Or baggy sweats and t-shirt as the case may be. We can’t fault that, no more than we can fault the very dry production courstesy of Mick “Foreigner” Jones on 5150. Still though, Valerie could have tried to point him in a more fashionable direction. He was being captured for video fercrimmeny sake. Let’s have a little decorum here. That being said at least they appear to be having fun here. On the 1984 tour the band members weren’t even appearing on the same stage together. Something needed to give.

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        1. Oh they definitely appeared to be having fun and I’m sure they were! I’ll always have a soft spot for the Live Without A Net video. Eddie’s smile was genuine. It’s a shame how things deteriorated in only a decade to the animosity that now exists between Sammy and Ed. Sammy says they were once best friends and I believe that.

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  4. I really do love Sammy and it is really sad what happened with all those guys. There was an MTV or VH1 special back around the Carnal period and they seemed to be really happy and in good spirits. Of course Ed later had some health issues that I am sure contributed to the discord.

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    1. Yeah, the problems between them didn’t seem to set in until Balance. By that time they also had management issues. Ray Danniels (Rush) was mis-managing them at the time which only exacerbated things between Sammy and the brothers.

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