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Hard Rock - Released January 4, 1984 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Hard Rock - Released February 10, 1978 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Hard Rock - Released March 23, 1979 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Hard Rock - Released March 26, 1980 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Hard Rock - Released May 6, 1981 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Hard Rock - Released March 27, 2015 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released September 24, 1996 | Warner Records

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Hard Rock - Released February 10, 1978 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Hard Rock - Released March 24, 1986 | Warner Records

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Hard Rock - Released April 14, 1982 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Hard Rock - Released January 4, 1984 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Hard Rock - Released March 24, 1986 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Rock - Released February 7, 2012 | Interscope

Reinventing Van Halen proved to be a tricky task, so Eddie Van Halen proceeded to reunite the band…a move so obvious it should have come as no surprise that it was easier said than done. Sammy Hagar was brought in for a 2004 hits album and an accompanying tour, a project that collapsed in acrimony so noxious that founding bassist Michael Anthony left with the Red Rocker. Eddie brought in his son Wolfgang as Anthony's replacement and began a prolonged courtship of David Lee Roth that first led to a tour, and then to this, A Different Kind of Truth, the band's first album in 14 years and their first with Roth in twice that long. That's a long time, but the roots of A Different Kind of Truth stretch back even further, with several songs originating from demo tapes Van Halen made before their debut, and the rest consciously written in that style. No synths are to be found anywhere on the record, they've been swept aside along with Michael Anthony's bedrock eighth-note thump and Sammy Hagar's radio-ready pop polish, stripping Van Halen down to their core: a duel for attention between David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen. Where Sammy enabled Eddie's ambitions, Diamond Dave unleashes the guitarist's id, taunting him to play faster, harder, tougher, then fighting for space between unwieldy riffs. Certainly, there are hooks here, even some with pop propulsion, but the unexpected signature of A Different Kind of Truth is its heaviness, its 13 songs of loud, unrelenting rock. The only time it comes up for air is on "Stay Frosty," with its acoustic intro deliberately evoking memories of “Ice Cream Man.” Of course, the entirety of this comeback is designed to revive the spirit of the first five or six Van Halen records, and building the album upon those old demos turns out to be a savvy move, as they not only saved promising songs, but re-oriented the band, pushing them toward their essence. It’s akin to the Rolling Stones digging up unfinished songs and completing them for an expanded reissue of Some Girls but in reverse: instead of trying to fit into the past, Van Halen are using their history to revive their present and they succeed surprisingly well on A Different Kind of Truth. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Hard Rock - Released May 6, 1981 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Hard Rock - Released April 14, 1982 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Hard Rock - Released July 19, 2004 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Hard Rock - Released March 27, 2015 | Rhino

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Hard Rock - Released February 23, 1993 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Rock - Released June 23, 2009 | Warner Records

The somber black and white cover could have been a knowing allusion to Meet the Beatles!, but it's really a signal that Van Halen is playing it for keeps on OU812, their second record with Sammy Hagar. Indeed, the striking thing about OU812 is that all its humor is distilled into a silly punny title, because even the party tunes here -- and there are many -- are performed with a dogged, determined vibe. When David Lee Roth fronted the band, almost everything that Van Halen did seemed easy -- as big, boisterous, and raucous as an actual party -- but Van Hagar makes good times seem like tough work here. Apart from a few cuts -- the countryish hook on "Finish What Ya Started," the slow, bluesy strut "Black and Blue" -- the riffs are complicated, not catchy, the rhythms plod, they don't rock, and Sammy strains to inject some good times by singing too hard. It gives OU812 a bit of a dour feel, not entirely dissimilar to Fair Warning, but unlike that early unheralded gem, this isn't a descent into darkness; it's merely a very inward rock record, as Eddie Van Halen pushes the band toward interesting musical territory. Often, this takes the form of jazzy chord changes or harmonies -- most evidently on the sleek opener, "Mine All Mine," but also on the otherwise metallic boogie "Source of Infection" -- but there's also "Cabo Wabo," the longest jam they've laid down on record to date, and a cover of Little Feat's "A Apolitical Blues" (which could have been a salute to producer Ted Templeman's early glories as much as a chance to do some down-n-dirty blues rock). Of course, there's also a pair of power ballads here, both poppier than the ones on 5150 -- "When It's Love" is pure balladry, "Feels So Good" rides along on a gurgling synth -- but really, they're red herrings on a record that's the hardest, darkest rock Van Halen has made since Fair Warning. And if it isn't as good as that record (even if it's nearly not as much fun), it's nevertheless the best showcase of the instrumental abilities of Van Hagar. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Hard Rock - Released June 17, 1991 | Warner Records

The smirking title indicates the true nature of For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, Van Halen's third album with Sammy Hagar. Backing away from the diversity of OU812, the band turns in some of the most basic, straightforward rock & roll of its career. At times, F.U.C.K. recalls the sleek hard rock of Hagar's early-'80s albums, and it's undeniable that his limited vocal power had a great deal to do with the obvious nature of most of this music. While the band is still tight and professional -- and Eddie Van Halen's guitar work remains impressive -- the songwriting is, by and large, undistinguished, with the anthemic "Right Now" standing out as the most memorable song of the batch, mainly because of its incessant chorus. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Van Halen in the magazine