Van Halen III is the eleventh studio album by American rock band Van Halen, released on March 17, 1998, by Warner Bros. Records. Produced by Mike Post and Eddie Van Halen, it was the band's first studio album in three years after Balance (1995), the band's only studio album to feature Extreme lead vocalist Gary Cherone, and the last to feature bassist Michael Anthony, who only appears on three of the album's songs while the rest of the bass parts are played by Eddie Van Halen; his son Wolfgang replaced Anthony on subsequent tours and recordings.[1] Eddie Van Halen's extensive involvement in the album's production, instrumentation and writing have led some, including Anthony, to consider Van Halen III more of a solo project than a collective band effort. Clocking in at over 65 minutes, Van Halen III is their longest album.

Van Halen III
A black-and-white photograph of a man being shot in the stomach with a cannonball
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 17, 1998 (1998-03-17)
RecordedMarch–December 1997
Studio5150 Studios, Studio City, California
GenreHard rock
LabelWarner Bros.
Van Halen chronology
Video Hits Volume I
Van Halen III
The Best of Both Worlds
Singles from Van Halen III
  1. "Without You"
    Released: February 19, 1998
  2. "One I Want"
    Released: April 1998
  3. "Fire in the Hole"
    Released: July 1998
  4. "Dirty Water Dog"
    Released: August 1998

The album reached No. 4 in the United States and achieved Gold status, but was a relative commercial disappointment for the band, whose previous four albums had all been chart-topping, multi-platinum sellers, though the lead single "Without You" performed well on radio. Critical and fan reaction was also largely negative, with criticism directed at its songwriting, production, band performances and length. The lukewarm reception prematurely halted work on a follow-up album with Cherone, who departed soon after.[1] Van Halen III was the band's last studio album for fourteen years until their 2012 comeback A Different Kind of Truth.

Production edit

The album's title refers to Van Halen's third recorded line-up, and to the band's first two album titles, Van Halen and Van Halen II. None of its material is featured on The Best of Both Worlds, the band's 2004 compilation.

As a producer, Eddie brought his friend Mike Post. The album's final track, "How Many Say I", was an unusual acoustic piano ballad featuring Eddie on lead vocals, and Cherone on backing vocals: Eddie declared he was forced into singing, and added harmonies so he would not perform alone.[2]

Van Halen III makes minimal use of Michael Anthony on bass guitar. Anthony only played bass on "Without You", "One I Want" & "Fire in the Hole"; Eddie Van Halen recorded bass for the rest of the album tracks that feature bass. After Michael Anthony's departure from Van Halen, he confirmed that Eddie Van Halen dictated to him how to play bass on this record.[citation needed]

Anthony also said by the time of making this album, Eddie was playing the bass more as well as drums. "I don't know if Eddie was basically making a solo record, which is what Van Halen III seemed like to me."[3] A track entitled "That's Why I Love You" was dropped at the last minute in favor of "Josephina", with "Fire in the Hole" featuring on the Lethal Weapon 4 film soundtrack.

"I would have preferred to tour with them and then put out a record," Cherone told KNAC. "It would have been a better idea to establish myself first and then hit the studio with the band… There were some great ideas and some little gems but it was not a great record. I had fun but at times it was like being a stranger in a strange land."[4]

The album cover is a still picture from stock footage of Frank "Cannonball" Richards, a vaudeville and sideshow performer known for his act of getting shot in the gut with a cannonball.

Commercial performance edit

Van Halen III debuted on the Billboard 200 at number 4, with 191,000 copies sold.[5] The album has sold over 800,000 copies as of 2022. The album's only significant radio hit was "Without You", which reached No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart on the March 7, 1998, issue of Billboard, and remained there for six weeks. Other songs receiving airplay on rock radio were "Fire in the Hole" and "One I Want".

Critical reception edit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [6]
Chicago Tribune    [7]
Entertainment WeeklyB[8]
Los Angeles Times    [9]
Rolling Stone     [10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [11]

Reception for Van Halen III was mostly mixed to negative. Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic stated the album fails to break away from the formula that Van Halen had exhausted over 20 years and "suffers from the same problems as Hagar-era Van Halen – limp riffs, weak melodies, and plodding, colorless rhythms."[6] Entertainment Weekly gave it a B grade rating, saying, "judging from the renewed intensity of Eddie’s guitar playing throughout much of III, having a merely competent, relatively ego-free singer seems to have reinvigorated his muse" but goes on to say "How Many Say I", a song Eddie sang lead vocals on, was "cringeworthy" and "unintentionally hilarious".[8] Greg Kot from Rolling Stone gave it 2 stars out of 5 noting, "Cherone sounds disconcertingly like Hagar, full of spleen-busting bluster and incapable of understatement", and "When the band plays it heavy, it mires itself in a Seventies tar pit, with only the chorus of 'Without You' achieving any sort of pop resonance." Kot compliments Eddie's vocals saying, "'How Many Say I' finds the guitarist singing in a disarmingly appealing, nicotine-stained voice over a moody piano melody."[10] Billboard reviewer Paul Verna summed up III as "a wasted opportunity to breathe life into a now-tired formula".[12]

Track listing edit

All songs credited to Eddie Van Halen, Michael Anthony, Gary Cherone and Alex Van Halen.

1."Neworld" (Instrumental)1:45
2."Without You"6:30
3."One I Want"5:30
4."From Afar"5:24
5."Dirty Water Dog"5:27
7."Fire in the Hole"5:31
9."Year to the Day"8:34
10."Primary" (Instrumental)1:27
11."Ballot or the Bullet"5:42
12."How Many Say I"6:04
Total length:65:22

Personnel edit

Van Halen edit

Additional personnel edit

Production edit

  • Florian Ammon – programming
  • Dan Chavkin – photography
  • Ian Dye – programming
  • The Edward – mixing, mastering
  • Erwin Musper – engineers
  • Robbes – mixing, mastering
  • Ed Rogers – programming
  • F. Scott Schafer – coloring
  • Eddy Schreyer – mastering
  • Stine Schyberg – art direction
  • Paul Wight – programming

Charts edit

Certifications edit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Japan (RIAJ)[30] Platinum 200,000^
United States (RIAA)[31] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Gary Cherone Reflects on his Three-Year Stint In Van Halen". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  2. ^ Evans Price, Deborah. "Van Halen Revs Up with New Singer", Billboard, 21 February 1998
  3. ^ Rolling Stone, September 2009, Issue 694, "Quick and Dirty with Michael Anthony" by Rod Yates, page114.
  4. ^ Carr, David;; 16 July 2009
  5. ^ Between the Bullets
  6. ^ a b Van Halen III at AllMusic
  7. ^ Kot, Greg (March 8, 1998). "Wastes Of Talent". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Sinclair, Tom (March 20, 1998). "Van Halen III Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 25, 2012.
  9. ^ Masuo, Sandy (March 15, 1998). "Album Review". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  10. ^ a b Kot, Greg (March 2, 1998). "Van Halen III". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 25, 2012.
  11. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian David, eds. (2004). "Van Halen". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon and Schuster. p. 842. ISBN 9780743201698.
  12. ^ Albums
  13. ^ " – Van Halen – Van Halen III". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  14. ^ " – Van Halen – Van Halen III" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  15. ^ "Van Halen Chart History (Canadian Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  16. ^ " – Van Halen – Van Halen III" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  17. ^ "Van Halen: Van Halen III" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  18. ^ " – Van Halen – Van Halen III". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  19. ^ " – Van Halen – Van Halen III" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  20. ^ "Album Top 40 slágerlista – 2001. 32. hét" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  21. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005 (in Japanese). Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
  22. ^ " – Van Halen – Van Halen III". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  23. ^ " – Van Halen – Van Halen III". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  24. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  25. ^ " – Van Halen – Van Halen III". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  26. ^ " – Van Halen – Van Halen III". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  27. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  28. ^ "Van Halen Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  29. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1998". Billboard. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  30. ^ "Japanese album certifications – Van Halen – Van Halen III" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. Retrieved February 27, 2020. Select 1998年3月 on the drop-down menu
  31. ^ "American album certifications – Van Halen – Van Halen III". Recording Industry Association of America.

Further reading edit

  • Gill, Chris; Tolinski, Brad (2021). Eruption—Conversations With Eddie Van Halen. New York: Hachette Books. pp. 178–218. ISBN 9780306826658.