Having jettisoned yet another lead singer, casting off meat-and-potatoes rocker Sammy Hagar for leaner, cleaner former Extreme vocalist Gary Cherone, Van Halen ushers in its third incarnation with the appropriately titled 3
. Trouble is, as a lyricist, Cherone too often speaks from the head, not the heart, filling the album with political cant that is dry and ill-suited to the band's party-hearty image. Worse, Cherone sounds disconcertingly like Hagar, giving 3
the uncomfortable feel of a tribute album. And while Eddie Van Halen's guitar still mows down anything in sight on tracks like "Neworld" and "From Afar," it's difficult to excuse his new-agey keyboard epic "How Many Say I," or his tentative lead vocal on the track. In a rare instance for a great band, it's one step forward, two steps back. --Daniel Durchholz
Import pressing of their 1998 album. Out of print in the US. Warner.