DVD Review: Van Halen – Video Hits: Volume 1 – Heavy on the Van Hagar

Van Halen was one of those bands in the eighties that seemed to cross all lines. They were definitely hard rock but made an appearance on the pop charts as well. With Eddie Van Halen working with Michael Jackson on his song Beat it, they garnered attention from people in the soul and hip-hop area as well. The band also was making music when MTV was first launched and made good use of the channel. I can recall my mother (now in her eighties) saying that David Lee Roth reminded her of Liberace in his stage presence. Back then, I didn’t get the analogy. Now, I do.

Thinking back on the videos that were released, I would think the band would be a perfect candidate for a sort of “greatest hits” DVD. There are some terrific videos on this disc that are classics, especially from the David Lee Roth era of the band. Who could forget Hot For Teacher with the pint-size representation of the band in a school and a teacher stripping on the students’ desks? I can remember when MTV and other music video shows edited the video so as not to show the band grabbing their crotches during one scene. Tell me why that’s bad, but a “teacher” stripping and dancing on her student’s desks in a tight cami top and string bikini bottom was okay?

Then there are two classics that at times seemed interchangeable to me. Jump and Panama. These are both terrific songs, high-powered with a lot of energy that shows up in the video of Van Halen performing the songs as well. Boy, do they look like they are having fun. There are clips of David Lee Roth being carted away by the police and members of the band members swing like Tarzan across the stage.

But that’s it from the David Lee Roth era. Where are the videos for Pretty Woman, with its transsexual twist at the end long before The Crying Game? Where’s You Really Got Me? Unchained?

Moving on, the Van Hagar era is represented quite well. Finish What Ya Started is one of my favorite songs and videos from this era and it’s on the disc along with When It’s Love, Poundcake, and Runaround. There are songs missing from this era as well, including Best of Both Worlds, Love Walks In and Why Can’t This Be Love?

The band seems to shift notably during this era, and then again even more with Right Now. It’s the deepest video on the disc, making statements that are as relevant today as they were back then.

Right now, Ed is playing the piano…

Right now, people are having unprotected sex…

Right now, justice is being perverted in a court of law…

All of these profound and less-than-profound statements among others are flashed on the screen with various images.

Right not, oil companies and old men are in control…

Right now, someone is working too hard for minimum wage…

Sure this was 30 years ago?

Probably the biggest disappointment for me on this disc, though, was the video for Dreams. Instead of the awe-inspiring video featuring the Navy’s Blue Angels in a variety of aeronautical maneuvers, it’s news footage from their performance at The Whiskey, a club in West Hollywood.

After this point, the good times for the band were pretty much over. There were a few more hits, but none reached the acclaim or sales they had once had. Can’t Stop Lovin’… is included and was moderately, successful, as was Humans Being, recorded for the movie Twister. Don’t Tell Me (What Love Can Do) and Not Enough were songs and videos unfamiliar to me prior to viewing this.

Finally, Without You is the lone video from the Gary Cherone era, brief as it was. After seeing it, that was a good thing. The best years for the band were either with David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar. Both had strong points and the change kept the band somewhat fresh for a few more years.

Unfortunately, there are no special features or extras. It would have been nice to have some interviews, but considering how poorly this band gets along, to begin with, that was probably asking a lot.

The DVD looks decent. I don’t think much effort was put into digitally restoring these videos before the DVD was put together, but the prints they are working from seem to be in pretty good shape. However, I wouldn’t want to run out and buy it, simply because it’s in no way a complete collection of their videos. I really want a DVD with the Blue Angels version of Dreams on it as well. I recommend it, but only marginally, for the material that’s here, that is wonderful. However, they could have done so much better.

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