REVIEW: Van Halen – LIVE: Right here, right now. (1993, plus “Jump” live single)

scan_20160929VAN HALEN – LIVE: Right here, right now. (1993 Warner Bros, plus “Jump” live single)

The summer of ’93 was the “Summer of Live Albums” here at LeBrain HQ.  There were many live discs out to digest, several of them from “must-purchase” bands.  Most notable was Ozzy’s Live & Loud which came in a metal speaker grille cover.  Iron Maiden also put out A Real Live One, the first of a two-album live set.  And then there was a big’un:  Van Halen’s first live album, the double Right here, right now.

What did all three releases have in common?  They were all boring duds.

Sad but true.  In Van Halen’s case, the disappointment was acute.  Sure it was “Van Hagar” and not the “real deal” if you believe in that  sort of thing, but that wasn’t the issue.  There are a few problems with Right here, right now but none of them have to do with the singer.  The setlist is a real drag, with way too much material from For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.  10 of the 11 songs from F.U.C.K. are on this album!  (“The Dream is Over” being the only missing song — you had to buy this on VHS to get it!)  A F.U.C.K. song opens the set, another closes the set…it’s too much, especially since F.U.C.K. was (one of?) the weakest Halen albums to date.

Issue #2 is perhaps a bit silly, since Van Halen shows are known for their solos: but this album has too many solos.  Eddie’s aside; he always going to blow your mind.  Unfortunately, Michael Anthony and Alex Van Halen are, quite frankly, boring soloists.  Did “Ultra Bass” need to be five minutes long?  It’s best when Michael’s just playing, but as fans know his bass solo is half notes, and half noise.  Immediately after that is “Pleasure Dome/Drum Solo”, nine whole minutes.  The instrumental “Pleasure Dome” section is best since it resembles a song (a driving hard one at that).

The final major issue is one we didn’t even know about until recently.  Sammy Hagar revealed in his book Red that this album was heavily overdubbed afterwards, and I wouldn’t doubt it.  (Hagar claims that he re-sang the entire thing over again in the studio.)  There was always something underneath the surface that didn’t feel right about this album, and that could be it right there.  Right here, right now feels dulled, perhaps by too much studio polish after the fact.

It’s not all bad of course, how could it be?  “Poundcake” and “Judgement Day” start it off strongly.  Then they went and dropped a ballad (“When It’s Love”) and a shitty song (“Spanked”), and all momentum is stopped.  The duo of “You Really Got Me” and “Cabo Wabo” are pretty damn great though.  There are a couple Hagar solo tracks in set which add some spice to the mix.  The acoustic ballad “Give to Live” is just Sammy alone, but “One Way to Rock” is the whole ass-kickin’ band.  Of all the Hagar tracks the band has played live, “One Way to Rock” sounds most natural as a Van Halen song.  The final surprise is “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, which Eddie does not play keyboards on.  Instead he mimics Pete Townsend’s synthesizer part with his guitar.  Who purists will hate Sammy’s take on it, but fuck it.  It’s a pretty damn good version of a hard to cover classic.

There are a couple other decent tracks to be had.  German and Japanese versions contain two bonus tracks:  “Mine All Mine” (from the OU812 tour) and another Hagar track, “Eagles Fly”.  They can also be found on the “Jump” live single.  Unlike much of the rest of the album “Mine All Mine” has some bite to it.  It’s a great example of synthesizer working well in a hard rock song.  (Unfortunately it fades out early.)  As for “Eagles Fly”, this is a song Sammy played acoustic on the occasions he didn’t play “Give to Live”.  Although it was played less, “Eagles Fly” edges out the other just slightly by a nose.  These two bonus tracks are worth tracking down the single for, or an import version of the album.

I traded up my original copy of LIVE: Right here, right now for a US import that came in a cardboard digipack.  Although it has no bonus tracks, it does have some bonus photos, which is still pretty cool.

It’s not fun to say any Van Halen album isn’t essential, but Right here, right now is not essential.

2/5 stars

 

COMPLETE VAN HALEN REVIEW SERIES:

VAN HALEN – Zero (1977 Gene Simmons demo bootleg)
VAN HALEN – Van Halen (1978 Warner)
VAN HALEN – Van Halen II (1979 Warner)
VAN HALEN – Women and Children First (1980 Warner)
VAN HALEN – Fair Warning (1981 Warner)
VAN HALEN – Diver Down (1982 Warner)
VAN HALEN – 1984 (1984 Warner)
VAN HALEN – 5150 (1986 Warner Bros.)
VAN HALEN – OU812 (1988 Warner)
VAN HALEN – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991)
VAN HALEN – Balance (1995 Warner – Japanese version included)
VAN HALEN – Best Of Volume I (1996 Warner)
VAN HALEN – 3 (Collectors’ tin 1998)
VAN HALEN – The Best of Both Worlds (2005 Warner)
VAN HALEN – A Different Kind of Truth (2012)
VAN HALEN – Tokyo Dome Live in Concert (2015)
VAN HALEN – Tokyo Dome Live in Concert (2015) Review by Tommy Morais

+

VAN HALEN – “Best of Both Worlds” (1986 Warner 7″ single)
VAN HALEN – “Can’t Get This Stuff No More” / “Me Wise Magic” (1996 Warner promo singles)
VAN HALEN – “Can’t Stop Loving You” (Parts 1 & 2, inc. collector’s tin)
VAN HALEN – “Right Now” (1992 cassette single, Warner)
VAN HALEN vs. JOHN LENNON – “Imagine A Jump” mashup by “Mighty Mike”
RECORD STORE TALES Part 186:  The Van Halen Tin

 

 

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25 comments

  1. I was so stoked when this first came out. I was a newer VH fan, so I had missed the whole DLR mania, and as a kid, getting a live album was the next best thing to a “Best Of” kind of disc, well because funds are low, I know I couldn’t buy em all. But even then as a kid I knew that there was something weird and not quite right about this “live” album. The mix wasn’t the greatest and all I heard was Alex’s damn high hats and crash cymbals throughout the whole thing. There was so much music on the album but it was bogged down by the 10 tracks from FUCK. And it was criminal how they used what seemed like a looped audience track, it made the whole recording sound sterile and boring. And really only five Roth era songs? They were doing Unchained on this tour and they couldn’t have squeezed it in? Has Van Halen’s first live album this could have been so much more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey latindrummer! Thanks for the comment!

      Glad I’m not the only one who felt 10 tracks from FUCK was too many.

      I didn’t realize they were doing Unchained on that tour. That would have been a great inclusion. Removed Spanked, put on Unchained. Win/win.

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      1. Hey Mike thanks for making the post to begin with it was like a blast from the past. I was really into this live set when it first came out. One of my buddies was actually at those Fresno shows where the recording took place and he was one of the first to tell me that the actual recorded product was vastly different from what he heard live those nights. Kind of crazy but I actually wish they would have kept the original recordings and let it have that Raw any natural feel to it, imperfections be damned. Not to be all nitpicky but it would have been awesome had they kept the real audience audio and not done so many overdubs and included Unchained and mine all mine.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hey latindrummer! Thanks for this awesome comment again.

          I don’t understand why Van Halen of all bands tried to polish up their live album. This is the same band that missed a line on “Oh Pretty Woman” and is noted for having loads of guitar mistakes on their albums. Left in for looseness and because it sounds good. Too bad they couldn’t keep this live album less polished.

          If the shows were so bad (doubtful) that they had to be fixed for release, why bother releasing them?

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Oooft. I’ve always loved the artwork for this album (even when I was discarding VH)… embracing the 90’s alternative vibe with this one, I thought. I remember being drawn to the CD in the shelves of Missing many years ago but then mumbling ‘mnah’ when I saw that it was Van Halen. I thought maybe I’d revisit it now I’m a VH man, but I don’t like Van Hagar and this is rife with Van Hagar songs, then? (10 from one album!?!?)… your review confirms I should stay away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I never much liked the cover myself, but it does have typical VH humour.

      It’s really too bad that Van Halen are so poorly represented live. There is a good live video called Live Without a Net that would have made for a good live album.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Fans have been begging for decades for an official US Festival release. It was filmed and fans who have it, love it. But VH have never gone and released old archive stuff in any form. They seem to refuse to look back even when doing a reunion with DLR

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        2. If you read interviews with the bassist Michael Anthony, he talks about having lots of tapes at home, and that the VH brothers are furious that he has them. Demos, outtakes, the stuff of dream box sets. The interview kind of implied that the VH brothers aren’t really interested in letting people hear it. Too bad! But it does exist.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. What!? That’s nuts… maybe that explains why he was chucked! Haha!

          “Give is the tapes, Michael”
          “No way..”
          “Give is the tapes or you’re out!”
          “…”

          Seriously, though, that’s odd. Maybe it’s a retirement fund thing…

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Yeah gotta agree here Mike, this should’ve been the live album of live albums back when it mattered most but like ya said, expected far more energy far more bite…

    There’s some gems and will be keeping my Jumo single for the Mine All Mine but might’ve considered a 3 if it weren’t for the re-recorded vocals! Sacrilege, who would’ve thought right? 2.5 from me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I remember when I found this one for $5 one time, but I was unsure about it being essential to the collection, so I texted you, and you said Nahhh… your 2/5 bears that out!

    Looking back, I actually think it’s kind of cool they included 10/11 tracks from the new record on this one. It’s not a bad album, and if that’s what they were touring at the moment, that’s what they should be playing!

    Shame about the studio trickery. I hate that.

    Still, if I were to see this again in a cheap bin, I might grab it next time, just to see what the fuss is about!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Righto! It’s the only way to know if you like it or not. Me, I wouldn’t have an issue with 10 new songs normally. But I did not like For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge and I still don’t really! But I think we have had that discussion….

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    1. Apparently it is! I know a few releases like that — a Sabbath live album for example called Cross Purposes Live, had three extra tracks on VHS. (Couldn’t fit them all on the CD)

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  5. I recall watching on Tv and recording on VHS(there ya go Geoff!) the Whoopi Goldberg show when she had a talk show and Sam was on and when he said they were working a live release I was like…..
    WHUT!?
    Push rewind…..listen to Hagar say the live deal again ..than pick up the phone and call Tbone!
    When this album was released I was pumped….when I listened to it it was sterile sounding …just blah sounding….so bummed!
    The VHS version was worse one shot has Ed wearing green shirt than the next shot of Ed he had a yellow shirt….so they filmed multiple,nights but couldn’t keep the wardrobe the same….I watched the VHS once….
    Waited so long for an actual live Halen something and ended up with This? Hahaha…
    Could have been so good…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You said that you watched the Whoopi Goldberg Show. Meanwhile I didn’t even know she had a show.

      The VHS sounds really shoddy. I like Live Without a Net and I think that’s the live video to stick with.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree this album was a snoozer! The packaging I thought was not real exciting either. I like For Unlawful though…I thought it was a little heavier and darker than the first two Van Hagar albums. Agree, definitely too many songs from the album played live!!! I thought the production on For Unlawful was better than the first two at least levels wise if not in the mix.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah the production was thicker on For Unlawful. It was also the first that Eddie used his new Ernie Ball guitars on…I think his tone was probably best here than on prior Van Hagar albums. But I don’t think his tone will ever get better than it was in 1984.

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