Album review: Van Halen, OU812 (1988)


By Steve Newton

So this album is selling like hotcakes, eh? I hear they shipped a million copies, and are still running out at a lot of record stores. Well, I know that it’s hard not to like a band that includes two stars like Eddie Van Halen and Sammy Hagar, but heck–I just know they can make way better albums than this.

For the most part, the tunes on OU812 sound like leftovers from the band’s previous record, 5150. “When It’s Love” and “Feels So Good” are too much like the last album’s “Why Can’t This Be Love” and “Love Walks In”. They’re nicely pulsating, mid-tempo love songs, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but why not leave that sort of stuff to Foreigner?

Sammy might be more of a romantic than macho Dave Lee Roth, but he does go out of his way to prove it, flirting with suckiness on some of these new tunes. Skip the Julio trip, Sammy.

When it comes to rocking out, the band does some damage on “Mine All Mine”, “Sucker in a 3 Piece”, and “Source of Infection”–the latter a thrashy stomper similar to 5150‘s “Get Up”. But they don’t come up with anything as party-pleasing as the last album’s “Good Enough” either.

“Finish What Ya Started” is a highlight, finally showing another, more funky side of the band, but then again there’s “Cabo Wabo”, a boring exercise in futility, and one of the lamest tunes the group’s ever come up with.

The really good thing about this Van Halen album is, as usual, the man himself–Eddie’s guitarwork shines throughout. He’s one of a kind, to be sure, but I still think the band can come up with much better material to showcase his incredible talent. Not that the group’s accounts are complaining.


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