My favorite tracks on the new Van Halen are all retreads that show up on the Warner Demos bootlegs (“Beats Working” was originally “Put Out The Lights”, “Big River” was “Big Trouble” and the unchanged “She’s The Woman”), and a few of the other tracks were later demos (I believe “Blood And Fire” is from an instrumental circa 1984). It’s not the embarrassment I feared and in fact is pretty solid. I miss Michael Anthony’s harmony vocals more than I expected, and do wish they had cut at least 3 or 4 songs, including the plodding “Tattoo” (I sped it up about 5% and it sounds better but still not a keeper); at 50 minutes, it’s 15 minutes longer than their debut and almost 20 minutes longer than any of the other original six albums. Trim the fat and it might beat Diver Down, but as it is I’d put it last in line. Which, as I said, doesn’t make it a bad record at all, just bad when compared to their classics.
I wish they’d put out a legitimate live show from any of the tours for those first six records. They smoke on all the boots I’ve acquired over the years.