Balance (Van Halen album)

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Balance
Studio album by Van Halen
Released January 24, 1995
Recorded May - September 1994 at 5150 Studios, Hollywood, CA and Little Mountain Sound Studios, Vancouver, BC
(Except "Strung Out" in 1983)
Genre Hard rock, heavy metal
Length 53:07
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Bruce Fairbairn
Van Halen chronology
Live: Right Here, Right Now
(1993)
Balance
(1995)
Van Halen Best of, Volume I
(1996)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2/5 stars[1]
Entertainment Weekly C+[2]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[3]
Ultimate Guitar 4.5/5 stars

Balance is the tenth studio album by American hard rock band Van Halen hailing from Pasadena, California. The album was released on January 24, 1995 by Warner Bros. records, and produced by Bruce Fairbairn. It is the final of four albums to feature Sammy Hagar as the band's lead vocalist.

The album ended up on the Billboard 200 list at number 1 in 1995[4] and reached triple Platinum on May 12, 2004 by selling more than 3 million copies in the United States.[5]

Recording and production[edit]

According to Ian Christe's book, Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga, Balance was Van Halen’s tenth album and was released amid internal fighting between Sammy Hagar and Eddie and Alex Van Halen. The band worked eight-hour days for three weeks recording the album. The first song on the record, “The Seventh Seal”, features mystical overtones that came, in part, from Eddie’s newfound sobriety. His therapist, Sat-Kaur Khalsa, urged him to relax and imagine where he was after drinking a six-pack of beer. After smoking cigarettes, drinking beer, and playing guitar for twenty years, he tried writing songs sober and wrote three songs in one half hour period. The album then moves into Sammy’s territory with “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You”. This song was taken from his ex-wife’s point of view, believing that she was still in love with him. The band saw more success with its hard rock genre as seen in the album’s song, “Aftershock”. The band was unable, however, to continue their successes from their early days much longer as Michael Anthony now had two daughters and was not as able to work with the band when needed. Along with Michael’s inability to drop everything when asked, Sammy no longer enjoyed working. He began only showing up for two hours in the afternoon. The band managed to pull everything together, though, and the album reached number 1; their fourth consecutive number one studio album.[6]

Most of the Balance album was recorded at Eddie Van Halen's 5150 Studios, located in the Studio City of Los Angeles, CA, except for five lead vocal tracks which were recorded in Vancouver, where the album's producer Bruce Fairbairn resided. It was mixed by Mike Fraser and mastered at Sterling Sound, New York, by George Marino.

Following the recording of Balance and its subsequent Ambulance Tour (the band renamed the "balance" tour to the "ambulance tour" because Eddie was having hip issues and brother Alex had to wear a neck brace [7]), Van Halen's second incarnation broke up. Regarding this time period, in 1997, Eddie Van Halen told Guitar World: "There had been a variety of conflicts brewing between Sammy and the band since I quit drinking on October 2, 1994... It got so bad that I actually started drinking again."

Selected song details[edit]

"The Seventh Seal" kicks off the album. Complete with chanting monks and dangling metal bells, the song unveiled a vast, open, U2-like guitar wall that propelled through the darkest terrain the band ever tackled.[8] As a side note Eddie revealed in 2012 that The Seventh Seal was written before Van Halen became a band.[9]

"Amsterdam" was written about the capital city of Eddie and Alex Van Halen's country of birth; their actual birthplace being the town of Nijmegen, further to the east. Eddie is on record in Guitar World as saying, "I always hated the words to "Wham, Bam Amsterdam," from Balance, because they were all about smoking pot. They were just stupid. Lyrics should plant some sort of seed for thought, or at least be a little more metamorphical."[10]

During The Balance tour show in Pensacola, Florida, Hagar stated that "Take Me Back (Déjà Vu)" was "a true story". The song itself features a then almost 20-year-old riff Eddie had previously used on a song entitled "No More Waiting" which the band played on occasion in the pre-Van Halen I era.[11]

Artwork[edit]

The album's cover art does not feature the current bassist, Wolfgang Van Halen, as most people thought in the last years, it was just a rumour, it's known that the original boy was from Denver.[12] The cover shows a toddler altered as a conjoined twin on a see-saw and they are both nude. Some countries refused to sell the album due to this offending cover. The left child was later airbrushed out. On the inside, the CD shows the Leonardo da Vinci drawing Vitruvian Man, and the back of the booklet shows an egg sitting on a guitar.

Release and promotion[edit]

Balance was released January 24, 1995 is the first release by a platinum-certified act on Warner Bros.. since Danny Goldberg stepped in as chairman/CEO. It's also the band's first album since the loss of their longtime manager Ed Leffler, who died of thyroid cancer in October 1993. Warner Bros. said that early 1995 would be the right time to unleash a new Van Halen album. "It seems like we've always had success with big acts right after the first of the year," says Warner Bros. VP of merchandising and advertising Jim Wagner. "Don't Tell Me," the first single from Balance, was shipped to top 40 and album rock radio on Dec. 28 1994.[13] Van Halen takes the honor of being the first act to debut at No. 1 in 1995, as their weekly sales of 295,000 units earns Balance The Billboard 200 crown. The opening-week tally for Van Halen's Balance is 21% higher than that of For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, the band's last studio album, which topped the chart with 243,000 units in the summer of 1991.[14]

Track listing[edit]

All songs by Eddie Van Halen, Michael Anthony, Sammy Hagar and Alex Van Halen.

The album was also released on vinyl and excludes "Baluchitherium" constraints and a slightly altered track order. The Japanese bonus track "Crossing Over" was also the B-side to the US CD single for "Can't Stop Lovin' You".

No. Title Length
1. "The Seventh Seal"   5:18
2. "Can't Stop Lovin' You"   4:08
3. "Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do)"   5:56
4. "Amsterdam"   4:45
5. "Big Fat Money"   3:57
6. "Strung Out" (Instrumental) 1:29
7. "Not Enough"   5:13
8. "Aftershock"   5:29
9. "Doin' Time" (Drum solo by Alex Van Halen) 1:41
10. "Baluchitherium" (Instrumental) (Does not appear on vinyl) 4:05
11. "Take Me Back (Déjà Vu)" (Tenth song on vinyl) 4:43
12. "Feelin'" (Eleventh song on vinyl) 6:36
13. "Crossing Over" (Japanese bonus track) 4:49

Personnel[edit]

Band[edit]

Additional personnel[edit]

  • Steve Lukather — backing vocals on "Not Enough"[15]
  • The Monks of Gyuto Tantric University — chants on "The Seventh Seal"

Production[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Brazil (ABPD)[16] Gold 100,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[17] 3× Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[18] 3× Platinum 3,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Charts[edit]

Album[edit]

Year Chart Position
1995 The Billboard 200 1

Singles[edit]

Year Single Chart Position
1995 "Amsterdam" Mainstream Rock Tracks 9
1995 "Can't Stop Lovin' You" Mainstream Rock Tracks 2
1995 "Can't Stop Lovin' You" The Billboard Hot 100 30
1995 "Can't Stop Lovin' You" Top 40 Mainstream 11
1995 "Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do)" Mainstream Rock Tracks 1
1995 "Not Enough" Mainstream Rock Tracks 27
1995 "Not Enough" The Billboard Hot 100 97
1995 "Not Enough" Top 40 Mainstream 39
1995 "The Seventh Seal" Mainstream Rock Tracks 36

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ AllMusic review
  2. ^ Frost, Deborah (February 10, 1995). "Balance Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 21, 2013. 
  3. ^ Evans, Paul (March 23, 1995). "Van Halen - Balance". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 21, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Van Halen - Album chart history". All Music. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  5. ^ "Gold & Platinum - November 11, 2013". RIAA. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  6. ^ Christe, Ian (2008). Everybody wants some : the Van Halen saga. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0470373569. 
  7. ^ "14th anniversary of the Balance Tour". Van Halen news desk. Retrieved 12 November 2013. 
  8. ^ Christe, Ian (2007). Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Story. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 186. ISBN 978-0-470-03910-6. 
  9. ^ http://www.guitarworld.com/interview-eddie-van-halen-talks-different-kind-truth
  10. ^ "Unreleased Music". Classicvanhalen.com. Retrieved October 21, 2013. 
  11. ^ Stuba, Chris. "All access photo interview". VH news desk. VH News Desk. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  12. ^ Rosen, Craig. "Van Halen strikes a 'balance'; new Warner album reflects changes". Billboard. Retrieved 12 November 2013. 
  13. ^ Mayfield, Geoff (11 February 1995). "Between the Bullets". Billboard 107 (6): 94. 
  14. ^ "Van Halen — Balance (1995, Warner Brothers, 45760)". stevelukather.net. Archived from the original on May 4, 2004. 
  15. ^ "Brazilian album certifications – Van Halen – Balance" (in Portuguese). Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos. 
  16. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Van Halen – Balance". Music Canada. 
  17. ^ "American album certifications – Van Halen – Balance". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
Preceded by
The Hits by Garth Brooks
Billboard 200 number-one album
February 11–17, 1995
Succeeded by
The Hits by Garth Brooks