This is "The Big 10 - The Essential Tracks", in which we take a closer look at particular artist's or band's back catalogue, and choose the 10 finest moments. These are our subjective choices, so if you want to ask how on earth we could leave off such and such song from the list, you can... and the answer is... because we could.

  'Diamond' Dave Lee Roth vs. Sammy 'I Can't Drive 55' Hagar? Clash of titans. Clash of egos. Definitely clash of styles. Best of both worlds? Originally formed in Pasadena, California, in 1972 by the Amsterdam, the Netherlands, born Van Halen brothers Alex and Edward. Gene Simmons from KISS produced the 1976 demo, but dropped the ball as they were signed a year later by Warner Bros. The band, possibly the first of the "eighties" sounding melodic hard rock acts as their 1978 successful debut saw the start of uber-flashy guitar work aka finger-tapping and cocky statements by the flamboyant singer. Not to mention that DLR is no doubt the hyperactive acrobatic and one of the all-time best frontmen (it's not the same as all-time best singer though).

They recorded waaay too many (boring) covers in the early days. No less than five (5) of them on Diver Down (1982) and the originals are just so... ehh... zzzzz. One of the worst major-act hard rock releases of all-time? They bounced or rather JUMPed right back on track with the help of keyboards and 1984 though. 5150 in 1986 was the first album with former Montrose frontman Sammy Hagar, who replaced founding vocalist David Lee Roth. Circle completed as Ed and Alex pretty much stole... ehem... borrowed the Montrose sound, their producer, and now they hired the singer. First they asked Patty Smyth (Scandal) and Daryl Hall (Hall & Oates) to replace DLR, but both declined.

The start of the Hagar era, a massive success as the 5150 album reached #1 on the Billboard charts, and it's their most successful and fun release ever. The keyboard-dominated singles and the overall catchy material is frankly superior to all the 'party-hardy' albums with DLR. Mick Jones (Foreigner) was brought in as a producer and 5150 went platinum in one week, the fastest million-selling record in Warner's history. Hagar left the band in 1996 and former Extreme frontman Gary Cherone (Mitch Malloy had the spot for a brief moment though) was recruited as lead singer as they recorded "III" in 1998. In 2007, Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2012, the band released, A Different Kind of Truth, with DLR once again as their frontman. What to expect next? No idea really. Right now, the humble tribute to the band and songs of Van Halen. The Big Ten.

10. Jump
9. Right Now
8. Summer Nights
7. Runnin' With The Devil
6. Poundcake

5. Why Can't This Be Love
""I tell myself. Hey! only fools rush in and only time will tell if we stand the test of time". Yeah. Well. C'mon. They were never really that good at words, lyric, or basic text for that matter. According to Ed, 'it sounds so elaborate because of the instrumentation. I used the arpeggiator in the OB-8, so everyone had to play that. That's why it has kind of a uniform effect'. The "It's got what it takes" line and melody is however straight out of an old Pepsi jingle. Pepsi would strike back later and use VH's 'Right Now' as their next commercial jingle. It's the first single off 5150 and I always think of this as the great Summer-song. And remember, only Van Halen will tell if we stand the test of Van Halen.

4. Ain't Talkin' Bout Love
It's actually a pretty darn basic track. And you know it's darn basic when The Ramones are using more chords. I'm not saying that Ed did a basic riff and work. However. You try and convince Michael Anthony it's fun to repeat the same stuff over and over again. It's a powerful and memorable riff and message from their 1978 debut and originally supposed to be a punk rock parody? It sticks like glue on your mind though. They sued rap group The 2 Live Crew for stealing the riff for their cult crap-hit song. "You know you're semi-good lookin' And on the streets again".

3. Dreams
"Run, run, run, away. Like a train runnin' off the track". It's about runnin'? That's what dreams are made of? Perfect AOR with the hammer-on guitar solo and yet another 5150 track on the top-10 list. The video feature the U.S. Navy's precision-flying team, the Blue Angels, whose 40th anniversary coincided with the 1986 release of 5150. It's Hagar's all-time favorite VH song and it appeared in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie. Its dream-like, keyboard-driven melody, goes straight to the heart and you simply can't resist to shout-a-long to the refrain. "We'll get higher and higher, straight up we'll climb. Higher and higher, leave it all behind".

2. Panama
Country, canal, woman, or car? The latter two as the legend goes that DLR saw the car race in Las Vegas while fooling around with a stripper. Or vice versa? I dunno. Thus why the odd lyric and title in a desperate attempt to try and match Eddie's monsterous riff. Easily the best track off 1984 and the most fun riff-dominated song by the band. You can hear the sport car revving in the background and DLR howling upfront. "She's blinding, I'm flying, right behind the rear-view mirror now. Got the feeling, power steering. Pistons popping, ain't no stopping now". It's all about fast cars, fast women, and fast shredding guitars. It must be good, Pat Boone recorded his own version.

1. Love Walks In
Contact is all it takes? Some kind of Alien? E.T. Phone home? Out of touch or out of space? Extra terrestrial rock and its not-of-this-earth melody hits you like a sledgehammer... ehh, spaceship on the head. Hagar actually drew lyrics from some kind of out-of-body experiences. The Red Rocker believes he was telepathically contacted by aliens? They downloaded my brain information, Hagar said and wrote most of the lyrics on the spot, sang it live in the studio (5150) as Eddie played the melody for the first time. Its synthesized AOR structure and arrangement... beyond-the-stars beautiful. "So when you sense a change. Nothing feels the same. All your dreams are strange - Love comes walkin' in".

This list by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

The list as a YouTube playlist

Individual lists:

Kimmo Toivonen:

10. Panama
9. Right Now
8. When It's Love
7. Can't Stop Lovin' You
6. Ain't Talkin' Bout Love
5. Why Can't This Be Love
4. Jump
3. Don't Tell Me
2. Love Walks In
1. Dreams

Martien Koolen:

10. Runnin With The Devil
9. Poundcake
8. Dance The Night Away
7. When It's Love
6. Jump
5. Can't Stop Lovin' You
4. Panama
3. You Really Got Me
2. Eruption
1. Dreams

Alan Holloway:

10. Can't Stop Lovin' You
9. Top Of The World
8. When It's Love
7. Summer Nights
6. Good Enough
5. Dreams
4. Ice Cream Man
3. Love Walks In
2. Panama
1. 5150


(c) 2019 RockUnited.Com


10. Eruption
9. 5150
8. When It's Love
7. Can't Stop Lovin' You
6. Why Can't This Be Love
5. Ain't Talkin' Bout Love
4. Jump
3. Panama
2. Love Walks In
1. Dreams