[Album Review] Van Halen | Live: Right Here, Right Now

Ah, the live album everyone hates… except me!

It is understandable though. Objectively speaking, it has some pretty terrible moments that even I will skip. Every time. So, let’s get the negative bits out of the way:

Is Live: Right Here, Right Now truly a live album?  Well, we know parts of it were recorded live in a studio!  I’ll let Sammy himself explain with an excerpt from his book:

The problem was they re-recorded almost the entire live album, because Eddie was out of tune, or Al had sped up or slowed down. They fixed everything. Only now that Eddie was playing in tune, my singing’s off-key. And where Al sped up in “Runaround”, now I’m singing ahead of the beat. Now I had to go back in the studio and redo all my vocals. I wanted to kill those guys. They put me in a room with the video of the concert, gave me my microphone, and I stood there and sang the whole fucking concert one time through. Just like it was a live performance.”

Who knows how much of that is truth and how much is hyperbole?  To me, it doesn’t feel much like a live album.  The crowd noise often appears to be tacked on, flat and without much variation.  So, I can believe some of what Sammy said.

Is this even a Van Halen album?  Well, it says so on the cover… but this, without a doubt, is a Sammy Hagar album.  He just happens to be backed up by Van Halen.  Ironic are the people who have told me they don’t like or are not interested in Live because they don’t want to hear Sammy singing David Lee Roth tunes.  There are only four of them!

Ain’t Talking ’bout Love is done very well. I think Sammy liked that one.  Jump is a bit paint by numbers with Sammy ad libs here and there, but its serviceable.

You Really Got Me and Panama, both get Sammied as he can’t help but to turn them into one of his own songs.  Panama is gutted with his weird “fuck tomorrow” wrap and a back and forth with audience as he screams “Right Now”.  You Really Got Me bookends an entire performance of Cabo Wabo from OU812 and I would have much preferred for each to have their own track.

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The rest are all Sammy tunes.

Including two solo songs.  One Way to Rock, at least fits the band.  It is a standard rocker, but not bad.  The other, Give to Live could have been dropped.  It features a solo Sammy on vocals and acoustic guitar.  It is nothing special as far as solo acoustic guitar songs go.

And I sure hope you love that one Van Halen album because out of the 16 Van Hagar tunes on here, 10 of them are from For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.

If we let their… let’s say interesting cover of The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again slide, there is only one more major sin.  The solos.  You get a bass, drum, AND guitar solo.

Woah… I’m gonna complain about a guitar solo on a Van Halen album?!?!?  When it’s 316, you’re damn right I am!

OK, Eddie does very briefly slip into some Mean Streets and then hits some Eruption-ish stuff, but they are sparse in an 11-plus minute, mostly dormant track.  I have heard that his performance here was more of a spectacle than auditory experience, but audio is all I have to go on.

As for the drum and bass solos… I love Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony. They make for a phenomenal rhythm section with a truly unique drive.  But their solos are overlong as they are lifeless.  These are the parts I skip.  Every time.

So, with all of these complaints… how can I still enjoy this “live” album?

Well, I admit to part of it being nostalgia.  For most of my teens, my Van Halen collection looked like this:

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I got Live from my parents for Christmas of ’93, thinking that it would make for a compact and convenient way to explore Van Halen’s back catalog.  It didn’t exactly do that but without a massive music library you end up listening to the same albums in your small collection a lot.  And this one got a ton of play from me.  Because it’s all I had, and it ain’t that bad.

I happen to be one of the people who enjoys For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge and its tunes here are like alternate takes.

The other Van Hagar songs are simply great.  Best of Both Worlds and Dreams have that slightly quicker live tempo which really gives them a boost.  Sammy’s ad lib is a little cringe-y during Finish What Ya Started but it is a solid version overall.  And the three ballads, Love Walks In, When It’s Love, and Why Can’t This Be Love are highlights.

So, if I break down the track list 2Loud2OldMusic style:

  1. Poundcake – Keep
  2. Judgement Day – Keep
  3. When It’s Love – Keep
  4. Spanked – Drop
  5. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love – Keep
  6. In ‘n’ Out – Keep
  7. Dreams – KEEP
  8. Man on a Mission – Keep
  9. Ultra Bass (Michael Anthony bass solo) – Drop
  10. Pleasure Dome/Drum Solo – Drop
  11. Panama – Keep, but drop the Right Now part
  12. Love Walks In – Keep
  13. Runaround – Keep
  14. Right Now – Keep-ish
  15. One Way to Rock (Hagar tune) – Keep
  16. Why Can’t This Be Love – Keep
  17. Give to Live (Hagar tune) – Drop
  18. Finish What Ya Started – Keep
  19. Best of Both Worlds – KEEP
  20. 316 – Drop
  21. You Really Got Me / Cabo Wabo – Drop
  22. Won’t Get Fooled Again (The Who cover) – Drop
  23. Jump – Keep
  24. Top of the World – Keep

Keep 17 out of 24 songs? That’s not bad.

Today I have access to Van Halen’s entire catalog but this one I went to after reading about the passing of Eddie Van Halen the other day.  Maybe it was for comfort.  Maybe it brought me back to a time when I felt safer and more hopeful for the future.  Maybe this takes me back to those better feelings.  Maybe I wouldn’t enjoy Live very much if it wasn’t wrapped in nostalgia.  But it is.

3.5/5

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30 comments

  1. What!! You don’t like 1-976 Spanked!?? lol I don’t hate this album as the songs are fine as well as I love that quirky cover it’s as you say it doesn’t sound live. I caught this tour in Nov 91 and VH was on fire especially as they were still playing AFU in the set.
    Bought the VHS along with it and they edited it so much it was a hard watch. One shot would have Eddie wearing a green shirt next camera shot Ed would be wearing a yellow shirt. I think I watched it once.
    Now for a true live VH live album Tokyo Dome from a few years back is the one. EVH/Wolf and Alex sound huge on it the way it’s meant to be. Roth is ok in some spots but I will give VH credit as they indeed sound live on that one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lol, yes. Nothng gets by you, Deke! I don’t know what it is about that one but I would be fine if I never heard it again. I have never seen the video. It is on YouTube if I ever do want to watch it. But I hear it is not that great. I never listened to the Tokyo Show. I have heard DLR’s voice is pretty bad on it. Maybe I need to check it out.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ignore Dave but listen to the Bros and Wolf. Plus it’s a great set list. Dave in some spots is out there so to speak lol but give them credit this is a warts n all live album. Tokyo Dome one that is!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. 316 was on Live Without A Net, only it wasn’t called 316 yet because Wolfie wasn’t born yet!

    In my live VH binge the other day, I only played 3 tracks from this. Judgement Day, 316 and Right Now.

    See you tonight!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great write up. So much of my own Van Halen love is wrapped up in nostalgia. I must admit I didn’t know this album was widely disliked. Then again, I haven’t heard it since it was new. Looking back, I think I only ever saw the video.

    Eddie was a true pioneer. For what it’s worth For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge was the era I left the bands fandom. Never listened to anything else by them after that. I have every single album and most of the singles before it though. When I heard the news It was Poundcake and Right Now I played first.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I found it odd that this was the album that I went to for the warm fuzzies. I thought for sure it would be the Roth years since that is what I listen to the most. But nostaligia is a heck of a place to find some comfort.

      Liked by 1 person

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