After 1986's massive-selling (but creatively and musically wanting) 5150, Van Halen adopted a slightly more daring, slightly more rock approch for their next album, OU812. For the first time since 1984, Eddie Van Halen really got to let loose on guitar, and to good effect. The number of synth-driven tracks(read: 80s pop tunes that sounded stale the week after they were released) was cut from four to three, again a huge improvement(Dreams was the only synth-driven song from the Van Hagar years that was any good). Third, Alex Van Halen ditched those very-80s electronic drums for a normal drum kit. All of this should have paved the way for a great Van Halen album, right?
Wrong. The synth-driver songs are still bad, and some of the rock songs lack power and creativity. Cabo Wabo simply drags on for too long. Their cover of A Apolitical Blues sounds out of place. Black and Blue crude lyrics ruin what could've been a competent song.
However, that's not to say OU812 is all garbage. Their country-like experimentation on Finish What Ya Started works, as does the flat out rock of Source of Infection(even if the solos sound ALOT like they were lifted from "I'm the One"). AFU and Sucker in a 3 Piece display some inspired playing by the band.
Overall, like its predecessor, OU812 was a disappointment(albeit another huge seller). However, OU812 represents a huge improvement over 5150, and 1991's F.U.C.K. would be huge improvement over OU812. Van Halen were well on their way to becoming a first-rate act with Sammy Hagar.