Balance (1995)

1. The Seventh Seal
2. Can't Stop Loving You
3. (Don't Tell Me) What Love Can Do
4. Amsterdam
5. Big Fat Money
6. Strung Out
7. Not Enough
8. Aftershock
9. Doin' Time
11.Take Me Back (Deja Vu)


When David Lee Roth was exiled after the release of 1984, I made the observation that had he stayed on with the band, I think the band would have spiraled downwards from that point on. Why did I think that? I'm not sure, it just seemed like the whole Van Halen schtick was getting a bit wearisome around that point and, although no one will ever know for sure, the band seemed to just fine with new singer Hagar. I mention this because, sadly, it now seems like the current lineup of this band should have 'retired' before this release, after 1991's For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. The reasons are basically the same - it was just time for a change.

When this album was released in 1995, the fickle public seemed to be ready to move on, and a new Van Halen album just wasn't generating the same kind of excitement that it did four short years ago. Of course, we now know, that there were the beginnings of tensions between Edward Van Halen and Sammy Hagar. The really sad thing about this record, is you can definitely hear a deterioration in process. This album starts out fine. Great, even. But as we get further and further down the song selection, it sounds as if the band just gave up.

The three leadoff songs are very strong indeed. The Seventh Seal, Can't Stop Loving You and (Don't Tell Me) What Love Can Do belong amongst the Hagar era best, yet sadly the second song, which received quite a bit of airplay, is the only song the most people are even aware of from this album. The fourth song, Amsterdam (basically a 'Pro Pot' tune) comes off as being o.k., but sadly, it's head and shoulders better than anything else that follows on the remainder of the album.

They end up throwing out several inconsequential tracks including a couple of worthless noise infested instrumentals, and they even go for a (gulp) power ballad with the song Not Enough. Don't misunderstand me, I have nothing against power ballads as a whole, but let's face it - the last thing in the world anyone wants from these guys is a power ballad.

So a very uneven album coupled with the fact that Van Halen's day in the sun and come and gone makes this one of the weakest studio efforts the band managed to produce. And, as time would tell, the drama was realy just about to begin. Sadly, we would soon be hearing about infighting and personality clashes much more frequently that we would hear music from these guys.

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