Roth’s Return Was Welcomed But I Was Cynical.
In 1996, Sammy Hagar left Van Halen. Both camps tried to set the record straight as to why things happened like they did. It made for great reading, the press had a field day and the fans just wanted new music.
Enter an old flame.
David Lee Roth re-joined briefly and recorded two songs with the band for the 1996 compilation “Best Of – Volume I”. There is a story about this saga as well, but other sites on the web cover it better. As is the norm, Roth and Eddie clashed again and Roth was out, eventually replaced by Gary Cherone from Extreme.
However we got a “Best Of” album. And it sold well. I guess the public’s appetite to hear Roth with Van Halen again was sky high. I know in Australia it got a Platinum certification and in the U.S it was 3x Platinum.
The album was released on October 22, 1996. I basically purchased it for the two newly recorded Roth songs, “Can’t Get This Stuff No More” and “Me Wise Magic” plus “Humans Being” which did appear on the Twister soundtrack, however my first hearing of the song was on this compilation.
And this review would focus on those three songs.
Can’t Get This Stuff No More
I got so used to Sammy Hagar and his melodies.
So I wasn’t totally enthused to hear Roth deliver his vocals about a “date with a super model and how he doesn’t need so much to remember”. But Roth is Roth, and it’s why I am a fan. He never conformed nor did he change his style. And the Chorus is as good as any Van Roth chorus.
Eddie was also getting a lot more progressive with his song writing and bro Alex, did a great job to put a beat and feel to it all.
Check out the lead break rhythms and EVH talk boxing his way before he breaks open the gates of shred. For progressiveness check out the outro that just came from left field as it’s a unique piece of music on its own.
Wikipedia also tells me that the music for this song was based on a track called “Backdoor Shuffle” which was originally part of the sessions for the “Balance” album.
Me Wise Magic
As soon as I heard the intro I was picking up the guitar to learn it. Not sure what came first. “Test For Echo” or this. I can Google it, but who cares, as the intro does remind me of Rush. Roth moves between spoken verse to a frantic pre chorus and a killer Chorus with Michael Anthony nailing the backing vocals.
Both of the Roth tracks were produced by Glen Ballard who had a renaissance of some sort in the mid 90’s thanks to Alanis Morissette and “Jagged Little Pill”.
The way the song started is how it ends.
An example of what I meant with EVH being progressive in his writing. You don’t hear the Intro riff again in the song, until it appears in the Outro.
EVH’s working title was “The Three Faces of Shamus,” for its three sections with “completely different vibes going on”.
Roth was also asked to work with Desmond Child on the lyrics after he discarded (or rewrote) the words that Ballard wrote. But Roth is Roth, and no one tells him what to do.
Produced by Bruce Fairbairn.
The intro Em riff (E to G to A) hooks me instantly. It’s almost Metallica like, but also like Alice Cooper (think “I’m Eighteen”).
My favourite part of the song is when Sammy sings “Shine On”, and of course EVH chimes in with a quick melodic lead, which quietens down and then builds up again, full of octaves, whammy bar manipulations, superhuman bends over a droning E note and legato slides. And none of it would work if it wasn’t for the time keeping of AVH.
And there is a story around this song’s creation, but Wikipedia covers it pretty good.
The only thing left to say, is to crank it.
5 thoughts on “1996 – Part 5.1: Van Halen – Best Of – Volume 1”
Those 3 songs were a great reason to buy that compilation. It was enough to get you excited to want more, but as you said, they couldn’t get along and Roth was gone again.
As the Snowman ☃️ stated it was a great reason to buy it for the 3 tracks. MWM is such a killer track esp when Roth dials in that creeper voice at the start of the track 😆
My dad actually has this compilation CD back at home! I listened to it once, sat in my CD collection for a bit, and then gave it back to my dad.
A couple of pretty cool songs. That was a really weird “era” for the band, or more like a blip I guess.
It all got too confusing and the focus on creating ceased to be. Their output from this point was very low.