Van Halen

Sometimes all it takes is just a little bit of new to make all the difference.

For many, VAN HALEN’s reign ended with ‘1984’ and only began again with 2012’s ‘A Different Kind of Truth’. The reason? David Lee Roth. However, I think Sammy Hagar’s VH debut 1986’s ‘5150‘ is stellar 80s Hard Rock, nonetheless.

From Hagar’s opening salute “Helloooo Baaaaby!” on “Good Enough” it’s clear that HALEN wanted to reassure fans. But, let’s be honest. Hagar simply lacks that trademark DLR swagger. And the syrupy, keyboardy “Why Can’t This Be Love” didn’t win over die-hards, either. Was this all Van Hagar could be? Generic DLR wanna-be impersonations and cheesy 80s Power Ballads?!

Then we get the deep uppercut of “Get Up” to set things straight. While Rock anthem to the GodsDreams” wholly demonstrates Sammy’s worth. DLR could never have sang with such sincerity and passion. It only soars so high because of Hagar, period.

Long time producer Ted Templeman always considered VAN HALEN a “garage band” and had Donn Landee engineer their albums accordingly. Now without Templeman Landee (working with Mick Jones) was able to bring those bottomless guitars, punchy rhythms, and melodic keys to new sonic heights. The impact and spaciousness on ‘5150‘ are beyond anything we’d heard from VH before. The blistering “Summer Nights” absolutely kills it.

Of the remaining tracks “Best of Both Worlds” is solid, the punchy title track demands you crank it way past 11, and keyboard ballad #2, “Love Walks In“, actually delivers a heartfelt, VAN HALEN worthy hook with a scorching Eddie solo to boot.

It would be hard for any album to compete against VAN HALEN’s first four; even ‘1984’ falters against such majesty. Yet, ‘5150‘ proves not only that Sammy Hagar is a serious frontman, but that VAN HALEN could succeed without Roth. Enthusiasm overflows through one ear-worm to the next.

During this one shining moment in 1986 all seemed right in the Hard Rock world. ‘5150‘ was not just a good album, it was a good VAN HALEN album. Highly Recommended (and highly underappreciated).


Ignore the haters. Sammy Hagar’s 1986 Van Halen debut ‘5150’ is an amazing collection of Rock music. A worthy successor to all the greatness that came before.

About the Author
Chad Schulz