5150 (album)

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5150
A painting of a man holding up a globe with the Van Halen "VH" flying-V logo around it
Studio album by Van Halen
Released March 24, 1986 (1986-03-24)
Recorded November 1985 – February 1986
Studio 5150 Studios, Studio City, CA
Genre Hard rock[1]
Length 43:14
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Mick Jones, Donn Landee, Van Halen
Van Halen chronology
1984
(1984)
5150
(1986)
Live Without a Net
(1987)
Sammy Hagar chronology
VOA
(1984)
5150
(1986)
I Never Said Goodbye
(1987)
Singles from 5150
  1. "Why Can't This Be Love"/"Get Up"
    Released: February 26, 1986
  2. "Dreams"/Inside"
    Released: May 24, 1986
  3. "Love Walks In"/"Summer Nights"
    Released: July 23, 1986
  4. "Best of Both Worlds"
    Released: November 5, 1986
  5. "Summer Nights"
    Released: December 1986

5150 (pronounced "fifty-one-fifty") is the seventh studio album by American hard rock band Van Halen, released in 1986 on Warner Bros. Records. It was the first of four albums to be recorded with new lead singer Sammy Hagar, who replaced David Lee Roth.

It was named after Eddie Van Halen's home studio, 5150, itself named after a California law enforcement term for a mentally disturbed person (a reference to Section 5150 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code). The 5150 name has been used several times by Van Halen. The album hit number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, surpassing the band's previous album, 1984, which had peaked at number 2 at the same time as Michael Jackson's Thriller album, on which Eddie Van Halen made a guest appearance.

Overview[edit]

Van Halen had considerable difficulty finding a replacement for the popular David Lee Roth. To make matters worse, Warner Bros. Records advised them to discontinue the Van Halen name; at the beginning of 1986, Eddie and Alex Van Halen formally refused. The brothers and bassist Michael Anthony even considered having a series of temporary singers on the album to replace Roth, including Patty Smyth, Eric Martin and Jimmy Barnes. However, in July 1985, Eddie was referred to former Montrose singer Sammy Hagar by a mechanic working on his Ferrari.[2] The pair hit it off and the new singer and band immediately began work on new songs.[3]

Van Halen went to work on the album in November 1985; it would be finished in February 1986, just one month before its release.

The album 5150 was notable for a number of love songs and ballads, neither a feature of the straightforward rock stylings of the Roth era. Many called the new incarnation "Van Hagar" either derisively or affectionately; a nickname so ubiquitous that, as Hagar points out in his book, Warner Bros. asked them to consider renaming the band as such. Bolstering criticism was the loss of Ted Templeman – who, having produced every previous album for the band, left to helm Roth's solo Eat 'Em and Smile. (Templeman would return to produce Van Halen's For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge a few years later, which Andy Johns was tapped for.) Donn Landee took over producer duties for 5150 after serving as an engineer on previous albums. However, the production on this album was markedly different from their albums with Templeman. Eddie's guitar, previously high in the mix and frequently pushed to the left channel (to simulate a "live" sound"), now sat equal in the mix and its overall sound had changed. This may have been his doing, as he was not a fan of the "live mix" that Templeman created with the Roth band.[4] This is also the first Van Halen album to feature no instrumentals.

Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones was also brought in as a producer, after Warner Bros. denied the band full creative latitude. According to Jones, the Van Halen brothers were "going through a particularly charged emotional relationship at the time, and there were some crazy situations that went on there". Jones feels his biggest contribution was working with Hagar on his dynamic vocal performances.

Despite the controversy of replacing Roth, the album was their first to top the US chart (although each prior Van Halen album had gone platinum). It was also Hagar's first #1, as stated by him on the Live Without a Net concert video. "The album went platinum in one week," Hagar recalled in 2014. "It was the fastest million-selling record in Warner's history… It was such a high."[5]

A live video created during the tour for this album was released as Van Halen - Live Without a Net, which has since been released on DVD. The tour itself was a significant change from previous tours. Where Van Halen previously had years of material to work with, even on tour supporting the first album, Hagar was uncomfortable performing a number of Van Halen's Roth-penned hits. Therefore, most of the band's back catalog was dropped from the set lists. Instead, the shows consisted of almost the entire 5150 album, a few Hagar solo hits ("I Can't Drive 55", and "There's Only One Way to Rock"), and a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll"; the band also played a humorous verse of Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" as part of "Best of Both Worlds." Of the Roth-era tracks, "Panama", "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love" and "You Really Got Me" were performed with regularity. Unlike Roth, Hagar was a proficient guitarist, allowing Eddie to play keyboards.

Album opener "Good Enough" can be heard in the movie Spaceballs.[6]

Artwork[edit]

The artwork features an art deco depiction of Atlas holding a sphere on his shoulders while kneeling; the model for the album was ESPN BodyShaping's Rick Valente. The Van Halen logo is wrapped around the sphere.[7] The title of the album appears as a placard on a chain around Atlas' neck. The back cover of the album sees the Atlas character collapsed, with the sphere dropped and broken open, revealing the band inside.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[8]
Robert ChristgauC+[9]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[11]

Reviews for 5150 were initially mixed. The Village Voice's Robert Christgau rated the album a C+, which signifies "a not disreputable performance, most likely a failed experiment or a pleasant piece of hackwork." He wondered how "the guitar mavens who thought Eddie equalled Van Halen are going to like his fireworks displays and balls-to-the-wall hooks now that video star David Lee Roth has given way to one of the biggest schmucks in the known biz." He also stated that "no musician with something to say could stomach responding to Sammy Hagar's call".[9]

Furthermore, Tim Holmes for Rolling Stone rated the album three out of five stars. He noted that "when it was announced that Van Halen had completed its talent search and the new voice was Sammy "I Can't Drive 55" Hagar, the response—even among hardened DLR detractors—tended more toward a bewildered "Huh? Montrose? What?" than resounding hosannas, huzzahs and what-a-good-idea's." Despite this, he stated that "part of Eddie Van Halen's cheeky genius [...] lies in his ability to think in terms of both complex orchestration and rock banalities". He also said that "Eddie can still split the atom with his axe, and he knows it. It's a Van Halen world with or without David Lee Roth, and 5150 shoots off all the bombastic fireworks of a band at the peak of its powers." He concluded that "ultimately, it is Eddie Van Halen's uncanny and intuitive ability to orchestrate these contradictions that gives the Van Halen machinery its velocity and amplitude, the qualities that blast the roof off the garage. There's plenty of hot party action down in rockland, but Eddie's band is the one with the chops—not just notes and chords and string-bashing Sturm und Drang, but the filigree detail that makes a simple-minded riff a symphony. [...] On 5150, Eddie Van Halen and Sammy Hagar speak each other's language."

A retrospective review from AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine was fairly positive. Erlewine noted that "Eddie Van Halen wanted respect to go along with his gargantuan fame, and Roth wasn't willing to play. Bizarrely enough, Sammy Hagar—the former Montrose lead singer who had carved out a successful solo career—was ready to play, possibly because the Red Rocker was never afraid of being earnest, nor was he afraid of synthesizers, for that matter." He criticised the album for the more heavy-handed feeling that resulted from Hagar's performance: "[W]here Diamond Dave would have strutted through the song with his tongue firmly in cheek, Hagar plays it right down the middle, never winking, never joking. Even when he takes a stab at humor on the closing "Inside"—joshing around about why the guys chose him as a replacement—it never feels funny, probably because, unlike Dave, he's not a born comedian." He concluded that "it worked because they had the songs and the desire to party, so those good intentions and slow tunes don't slow the album down; they give it variety and help make the album a pretty impressive opening act for Van Halen Mach II."[8]

Track listing[edit]

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

Side one
No.TitleLength
1."Good Enough"4:05
2."Why Can't This Be Love"3:48
3."Get Up"4:37
4."Dreams"4:54
5."Summer Nights"5:06
Total length:22:29
Side two
No.TitleLength
6."Best of Both Worlds"4:49
7."Love Walks In"5:11
8."5150"5:44
9."Inside"5:02
Total length:20:45

Note

  • Originally, there was going to be another song, "I Want Some Action", as a fifth track on side two. This song was never released.[12]

Personnel[edit]

Van Halen[edit]

Production[edit]

  • Dan Chapman – illustration
  • Ken Deane – engineer
  • Bobby Hata – mastering
  • Mick Jonesproducer
  • Donn Landee – producer, engineer
  • Jeri McManus – art direction
  • Aaron Rapoport – photography
  • Van Halen – art direction
  • Alex Van Halen – producer
  • Eddie Van Halen – producer

Charts[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1986) Peak
position
US Billboard 200[13] 1

Singles[edit]

Billboard (United States)
Year Single Chart Position
1986 "Best of Both Worlds"[14] Album Rock Tracks 12
"Dreams" Album Rock Tracks[14] 6
Billboard Hot 100 22[citation needed]
"Love Walks In" Album Rock Tracks[14] 4
Billboard Hot 100 22[citation needed]
"Summer Nights" Album Rock Tracks[14] 33
"Why Can't This Be Love" Album Rock Tracks[14] 1
Billboard Hot 100[14] 3

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[15] 3× Platinum 300,000^
Germany (BVMI)[16] Gold 250,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[17] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[18] 6× Platinum 6,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

  1. ^ Holmes, Tim (May 22, 1986). "5150". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 9, 2014. 
  2. ^ http://articles.latimes.com/1987-08-30/entertainment/ca-5104_1_sammy-hagar
  3. ^ Alex Van Halen – Pasadena City College
  4. ^ Quotes
  5. ^ Elliott, Paul (March 2014). "The best of both worlds". Classic Rock. No. 194. p. 49. 
  6. ^ Spaceballs (1987) – Cast and Credits – Yahoo! Movies
  7. ^ Shawn Ray (April 3, 2009). "Where Are They Now with Rick Valente". Muscular Development. Retrieved May 23, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. 5150 – Van Halen at AllMusic. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
  9. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "CG: Van Halen". The Village Voice. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  10. ^ Holmes, Tim (May 22, 1986). "5150". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Van Halen: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 25, 2012. 
  12. ^ VHND Staff (April 13, 2016). "Hear Van Halen's Unreleased Song "I Want Some Action" & Other '5150' Demos". Van Halen News Desk. Retrieved August 21, 2016. 
  13. ^ "Van Halen Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved June 26, 2017.
  14. ^ a b c d e f "Van Halen - Chart history | Billboard". www.billboard.com. Retrieved 9 December 2016. 
  15. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Van Halen – 5150". Music Canada. 
  16. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Van Halen; '5150')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  17. ^ "British album certifications – Van Halen – 5150". British Phonographic Industry.  Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Enter 5150 in the search field and then press Enter.
  18. ^ "American album certifications – Van Halen – 5150". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH