The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Reissue Theory: Van Halen, “The Best of 1978-1984”

with 5 comments

Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on notable albums and the reissues they may someday see. As Van Halen prepares to take Second Disc HQ by storm, we reflect on a compilation that almost was, and how it could’ve been done, TSD-style…

Van Halen are mere hours away from their second show at Madison Square Garden in New York City, part of their latest tour in support of their first album in 13 years (and first with lead vocalist David Lee Roth since 1984), A Different Kind of Truth. It’s the second tour since 2007 to feature Roth alongside Eddie Van Halen on guitar, Alex Van Halen at the drum set and Eddie’s son Wolfgang replacing Michael Anthony on bass – and boy, is it irrationally exciting to be prepping to see these guys in 2012. VH still puts on a hell of a live show, and all reports indicate Eddie hasn’t been as on point in concert in many years.

Naturally, Second Disc HQ has been ringing with Diamond Dave-era cuts in preparation for tonight’s show, and it certainly brought to mind what there might still be to do with the band’s lengthy catalogue on Warner Bros. Records from 1978 to 2000. The Roth albums were remastered in 2000, and two compilations (1996’s The Best of Volume 1, featuring two new songs with Roth, and the double-disc The Best of Both Worlds (2004), featuring three new tracks with second vocalist Sammy Hagar) have been released to date.

A third compilation was planned several years ago, though, and while its worthiness would be incredibly easy to call into question, if done well it would have been a great collectible in the wake of A Different Kind of Truth. Get ready to dance the night away after the jump!

The third intended Van Halen compilation, The Best of 1978-1984, was going to be exactly what it sounded like: a generic compilation of nothing but David Lee Roth-era hits and killer cuts. It was announced in February of 2007 for an April 3 release date, to coincide with the band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that year. It never ended up released, of course – likely due to the unsavory business entanglements that make VH catalogue work such a heavy load to bear. (Disagreements between band members have colored all the band’s compilations; Hagar was against The Best of Volume 1 from the start, leading to a chain of events that lead to his departure from the band and Roth nixed separate Roth/Hagar-themed discs for The Best of Both Worlds.)

But take a look at the tentative track list and admit to yourself that there’s absolutely nothing there for collectors. Any self-respecting new fan would have probably just put money down for Both Worlds and called it a day. That’s where Reissue Theory comes in. We drafted a leaner, more singles-heavy approach to a Roth-only compilation, while still including some (not all) rarities for hardcore fans.

In an ideal world, those rarities would be the tip of an iceberg for a bigger project – a box set, another round of remasters, vintage live material, the list could go on forever. Of course, the real world is ideal enough that Van Halen are still kicking and putting on a surprisingly killer show in a venue near you – but it’s always fun to think about it.

Van Halen, The Best of 1978-1984 (Warner Bros./Rhino)

  1. Eruption
  2. You Really Got Me
  3. Runnin’ with the Devil
  4. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love
  5. Dance the Night Away
  6. Beautiful Girls
  7. And the Cradle Will Rock…
  8. Unchained
  9. (Oh) Pretty Woman
  10. Dancing in the Street
  11. Jump
  12. I’ll Wait (Edit)
  13. Hot for Teacher
  14. Panama
  15. Everybody Wants Some!! (Live at the US Festival – 5/29/1983)
  16. She’s the Woman (Demo)

Tracks 1-4 from Van Halen (Warner Bros. Records BSK 3075, 1978)
Tracks 5-6 from Van Halen II (Warner Bros. Records HS 3312, 1979)
Track 7 from Women and Children First (Warner Bros. Records HS 3415, 1980)
Track 8 from Fair Warning (Warner Bros. Records HS 3540, 1981)
Tracks 9-10 from Diver Down (Warner Bros. Records 23677, 1982)
Tracks 11-14 from 1984 (Warner Bros. Records 23985, 1984)
Tracks 15-16 previously unreleased. Track 16 was recorded twice – once in 1976 as a Gene Simmons-produced demo, and again in 1977. (Fans, if you were picking, which one would our nonexistent compilation have?)

Written by Mike Duquette

March 1, 2012 at 15:29

Posted in Compilations, Features, Van Halen

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5 Responses

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  1. A Different Kind of Truth was a pleasant surprise, hope more albums and tours in the future for VH3!

    Jim

    March 1, 2012 at 15:59

  2. I love the new album and I haven’t stopped playing it since it was released last month. What I would like to see are the demo tracks produced by Gene Simmons and the Warner Brothers demos get a proper release to the fans. I think that between the two sources that there are about 30 tracks which can be heard on Youtube and that would make a good start for the first 2 discs of a fan boxset. How about another live disc and a DVD of vintage live performances from the US festival and I think a Monsters of Rock performance in Brazil. I can’t think of any other stuff, but I know there are people out there who could add to my suggestion.

    George

    March 1, 2012 at 16:03

  3. I’m not a VH expert, but is there enough material in the vaults to create 2-CD deluxe editions of the early VH albums? You know, “VH1” through “1984” with a SECOND DISC of demos, rarities, live tracks, etc. This seems more interesting than another compilation.

    Don

    March 1, 2012 at 16:20

    • Deluxe Editions of the Roth albums would be worth the double dip for me!

      Jim

      March 1, 2012 at 18:44

  4. I was always disappointed that there was never a live album released for the early Dave era years. I have a bootleg or two but they aren’t very good sounding. That would be a great place to start. An album with live tracks from the early era. Even if it wasn’t a single concert but a collection from concerts from 78-84.

    Bill B

    March 5, 2012 at 07:58


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