New Sound and Mix for Eddie’s Guitar
Of note regarding the new sound on that album is Eddie’s guitar, which previously sat high in the mix and was often pushed to the left channel (to simulate a “live” sound”). On 5150 his guitar tracks sat equal in the mix and while his overall sound had changed. This may have been Eddie’s doing, as he was not a fan of the “live mix” that Templeman created on the previous Halen records. This is also the first Van Halen album not to feature any instrumental tracks.
Many of the songs were already written by Eddie before Hagar got onto the scene, so his main contribution was adding lyrics.
The Red Rocker described the 5150 studio as somewhat of a shambles, noting ” There must have been 300 beer bottles and cans laying around. Half of them had beer in them and old cigarettes. Every ashtray was overflowing with cigarette butts. There were butts left burnt on the floor. That place stunk like a fucking bar that hadn’t been cleaned for a hundred years. Eddie’s guitars were everywhere – maybe 30 guitars, laying against walls, on the floor, just knocked over.”
Despite, at first, being nervous singing with the band, Hagar and the boys quickly got into the songs, while Hagar began scatting lyrics and instantly came up with “Summer nights and my radio…”
In fact, Hagar would make up many of the lyrics on the spot, as they were jamming.
“Love Walks In” was one of the first songs Eddie and Sammy worked on together and it’s a perfect example of the more poppy, keyboard-influenced sound that permeates several tracks on 5150 like “Why Can’t This be Love?”and “Dreams”.
But there are some hard rocking songs like “Good Enough”, “Get Up” and the hugely underrated title track, which is one of the best Hagar-era Van Halen tracks.
Many hardcore Van Halen fans dismissed the album and Hagar as the new singer, many old and new fans embraced the tracks for what they are: Fantastic rock songs, bottom line.