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.
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