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  1. #1
    Good Enough vhrocker's Avatar
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    01.21.15 @ 08:57 AM
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    Default Tidbits on Balance

    Source: Uncle Joe's Record guide

    Van Halen
    Balance(CD, 31-22)(Cassette, 26-27)

    11th LP, released 1/24/95 - three-and-a-half years after their last studio album. Following their twice-extended For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge world tour and the release of their first live album, Van Halen's four members scheduled some time off to relax and enjoy themselves. By the time vocalist Sammy Hagar and bassist Michael Anthony rejoined drummer Alex Van Halen and guitarist Eddie Van Halen in early 1994, several events, including death and heartbreak, had affected their personal lives. While discussing the direction their music would take, the group chose Bruce Fairbairn to handle the production job. Fairbairn proved crucial to Van Halen's continued growth. Bruce, who had worked extensively with Aerosmith since their Permanent Vacation album, had also worked wonders producing AC/DC and Motley Crue. A former musician himself, Fairbairn brought a renewed sense of musicality and discipline to the Van Halen sessions.

    The serious writing and recording sessions at Eddie's 5150 studios began in late May 1994. The band had demoed 20 songs in their initial rehearsals. As the recording sessions proceeded, 14 arrangements were completed. The final vocals were recorded at Fairbairn's Vancouver studios in late August, and the final mixing took place at the Record Plant in Los Angeles in September 1994. The result was Van Halen's most guitar-oriented music in several years, some of Sammy's finest vocal performances ever, and the band's most rhythmically complex work to date. The songs also marked a continuation of the more mature lyrical direction of For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. The songs on Balance were not so much one-dimensional reflections on real life, as good, kick-ass Nineties hard rock that touched on a few, very personal themes. Lyrically, Van Halen surpassed Aerosmith and entered a territory where only Rush had tread before: an amazing transformation that the group carried into their live shows without the least bit of trouble.

    The title of this album, as well as the content of some of its lyrics, underwent an interesting evolution. Before beginning work on this project, their longtime friend and manager, Ed Leffler, succumbed to cancer. In his memory, Van Halen's first working title for this album was The Club, which is how the band referred to Ed's house (Le Club Leffluer). As the album approached completion, they began using the working title The Seventh Seal, taken from the album's opening song. During the final mixing, Van Halen decided to use a title that harkened back to the OU812 sessions; they felt Balance was a better indication of their frame of mind and a more accurate reflection of their music and their lives. Balance immediately charted at #1 upon its release and became Van Halen's 11th consecutive multi-million selling release. The sold out Balance world tour began in March 1995 and was scheduled to run for over a year.

    ** Special Notes: For the first time ever, a Van Halen song was completed during the recording sessions, but left off the album. Van Halen's first-ever, non-album B-side was first released on the Japanese "Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do)" single, then on the worldwide release of "Can't Stop Loving You."

    Also for the first time, the band decided to sequence their songs differently on the cassette version than on the compact disc version of the album.

    Balance - Side One

    "The Seventh Seal" was a working title track for this album before the final mixing was finished. The lyrics were inspired, in part, by Ingmar Bergman's film of the same name, which told of a knight playing chess with Death, and by a passage in the Book Of Revelations in the Old Testament. Vocalist Sammy Hagar described this song as a prayer to avoid Armageddon. The opening featured digitally sampled prayer chants of the Buddhist monks of Gyuto Tantric University. Eddie Van Halen created his monster guitar sound without any major effects devices - and he also refrained from playing a solo.

    "Can't Stop Loving You" was one of the last songs the group recorded for this album. In an unusual twist, Sammy wrote the lyrics from the perspective of his ex-wife. Partially because of the passion involved, this performance stands as one of Sammy's finest vocals ever. The second song released from this album, "Can't Stop Loving You" was the only Van Halen single to ever feature a non-album B-side.

    B-1: "Crossing Over" began as a demo titled "David's Tune" that Eddie wrote and recorded in 1983 for a friend who had committed suicide. Upon joining the band and hearing the demo, Sammy wanted to finish the song, but Ed declined. Years later, following the death of Ed Leffler and Sammy's father in 1993, Sammy wrote lyrics to further explore the theme of crossing over from one life into the next. Eddie finally gave his OK, and "Crossing Over" was finished. Still, some of the band felt the song was too personal, so it was kept off the album and appeared destined to become the only finished Van Halen outtake ever. Instead, the group was convinced to use the song as Van Halen's first-ever, non-album B-side - first on the Japanese single release of "Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do)," and later as the B-side of the worldwide release of "Can't Stop Loving You."

    "Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do)," the first song released from the album, was recorded live in the studio under the working title "What Love Can Do." The only overdub on this cruncher was a second guitar part in the chorus.

    "Amsterdam" referred to real places and situations in that wild Dutch city. The Van Halen brothers, who were born in The Netherlands, were at first a little surprised by Sammy's lyrical take on their "hometown."

    "Big Fat Money" opens with a bit of in-studio chatter and ends with the sound of a coin dropped on the 5150 control board.

    "Strung Out" was based on a 10-year-old tape of Eddie torturing Marvin Hamlish's grand piano with knives, spoons and forks. (Ed had rented Marvin's beach house and ended up spending a lot of money to have Marvin's prized piano refinished.)

    (on the CD): "Not Enough" was one of Van Halen's finest love songs ever. Sammy wrote the lyrics and melody for the verses. Later, he called Eddie and described what he had written. Eddie sat down and spontaneously played the piano part. As the band worked up the song, the piano was recorded inside Eddie and Valerie Bertinelli's home. For a unique tone, Eddie played his guitar through a rotating Leslie organ speaker - a technique first pioneered by the Beatles 28 years earlier. This song also featured Michael Anthony's first recorded workout on a fretless bass and some of Sammy's finest vocals.

    Balance - Side Two

    Due to time constraints on the cassette version of this album, "Not Enough" was moved from the end of the first side to the second spot on this side. The balance of the tracks remained sequenced the same as on the compact disc.

    "Aftershock," a great rocker, was written about a shaky relationship - not earthquakes.

    (on the cassette only): "Not Enough"

    "Doin' Time" was Alex Van Halen's workout. (When asked, he denied it was a solo, saying "It was just that no one else was playing with me.") Up until the last moment, the working title was "Drum Thing."

    "Baluchitherium" was named after the biggest mammal ever to walk the earth - a rhinoceros-like beast from the Oligocene and Miocene epics. The name was chosen because of the "hugeness" of Edward's guitar sound. He had begun work on the riff during the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge sessions. Early in the Balance sessions, and after working up variations of the song - including one that had vocals - the band recorded this under the working title "Heavy Groove." This song featured Michael Anthony playing a five-string bass and a rare vocal contribution from Eddie's dog
    Sherman.

    "Take Me Back (Deja Vu)" was recorded under the working title "Deja Vu." Lyrically, it was a follow up to "Swept Away" on Sammy's VOA solo album. In addition to some tasty acoustic guitar work and excellent vocals, this song featured the first extended use of a harmonica in a Van Halen song. Shortly after the Balance album was released, the band returned to the studio and remixed "Take Me Back (Deja Vu)." All subsequent versions of the album contained the remix.

    One of the longest songs Van Halen ever recorded, "Feelin'" featured some excellent lyrics, singing and musical changes. This song became a powerful, uplifting workout in concert.

    ALEX IS GOD!!!

    I've been doin' this for 'bout 20 years now, and I'll tell ya, to this day I still don't know the right drumstick from the left drumstick -Alex Van Halen


  2. #2
    Unchained scs5150's Avatar
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    12.17.10 @ 10:56 AM
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    Cool tidbits, thanks!

  3. #3
    Atomic Punk Bad to the Bone's Avatar
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    12.17.17 @ 04:09 AM
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    Default

    man...I'm gonna post some additional stuff for this thread tomorrow....I'm pretty sure I can add to a bunch of stuff.

  4. #4
    Forum Frontman Double Down's Avatar
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    11.17.17 @ 12:11 PM
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    Default

    Interesting about Can't Stop Loving You. I wonder if his ex-wife would agree with Sam's interpretation of her perspective. I've always thought this was lyrically one of Sammy's best songs. Fantastic tune.
    .
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    VH with Dave ('78-'84) - The best years....the "real" VH.
    VH with Sam ('86-'96) - Incredible era....."We have renamed this town 'New Halen!'.
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  5. #5
    Forum Frontman
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    07.04.16 @ 08:03 PM
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    I didn't know they remixed "Take Me Back." Is that for sure true? I bought my CD of Balance the day it came out, so I would likely have the first version. Interesting...

    It really seems Balance has stood the test of time. I recall a lot of folks lamenting at its "darker" direction at the time, but it seems to get cited a lot now for having a better overall band feel, better lyrics, and better studio sounds (Eddie's tone in particular).

  6. #6
    Romeo Delight elmers's Avatar
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    07.14.12 @ 11:44 AM
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    well, i guess i'll need someone that knows they have an original copy of Balance to send me a copy of Take Me Back so I can see whats so different about it, if anything. if anyone feels like it, e-mail me the original not remixed version to
    elmers2004@hotmail.com

    thanks.

  7. #7
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    07.04.16 @ 08:03 PM
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    Quote Originally Posted by elmers View Post
    well, i guess i'll need someone that knows they have an original copy of Balance to send me a copy of Take Me Back so I can see whats so different about it, if anything. if anyone feels like it, e-mail me the original not remixed version to
    elmers2004@hotmail.com

    thanks.
    I'll send it to you in a moment.

    Can anyone send me a "later" MP3 ripped at 192 kbps? readbtwnlines@hotmail.com

  8. #8
    Atomic Punk Bad to the Bone's Avatar
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    12.17.17 @ 04:09 AM
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    as far as I know the remixed version of take me back never materialized. Sam said on rockline that the plan was to go in and tweak it alittle cause both Eddie and him felt the song wasn't all it was supposed to be. Sam said it was one of the last songs they worked on and they kinda rushed it. The plan was to go in, remix it and have later copies of blance have it on there but I've never heard of anyone having it.

    there are a few different versions of Amsterdam out there. I've got a blue tin can with the single on it and it's titled "blue tin edit", Sammy also rewrote and resang the lyrics for the video release.

  9. #9
    On Fire the_jake5150's Avatar
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    03.30.16 @ 10:14 PM
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    Cool tidbits. Balance is the best Sammy album.
    The Atomic Drunk!

  10. #10
    Eruption Wolfgang_'99's Avatar
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    06.18.10 @ 10:55 PM
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    great stuff.
    VAN HALEN FOR LIFE

    Bands I've seen:

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    In This Moment

    Proud Threetard

    5150

  11. #11
    Atomic Punk Bad to the Bone's Avatar
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    12.17.17 @ 04:09 AM
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    I know Not Enough was written at the end of the RHRN tour, in a guitar mag there was an article titled Sammy Drills Eddie where Sam interviewed Ed and they talk about a piano song they just wrote together, they both agree it's a very inspired tune and Sammy says the working title is "to love somebody" but they might have to change it because there is already a song with that name.

    I also know that Ed played the intro to aftershock as part of his solo section on the RHRN tour and the main riff in DTM is pretty much the same riff that Ed would play while Sam introduced Rockin in the Free World on the RHRN tour.

    Big FAt Money was originally recorded with a different guitar solo but fairburn asked Ed to play something "jazzy" so Ed said "along the lines of this" and played the solo not knowing that Bruce was recording, when Ed finished Bruce said 'perfect" and used that solo.

  12. #12
    Atomic Punk Raldo's Avatar
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    12.17.17 @ 05:53 PM
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    Thanks for the info!!! That was a great read.
    Remember the Heroes - 9/11/01

    In 2012, the phoenix has risen!!

    "High speed, low drag."

    "Look at all the people here tonight!!!" - 10/5/07, 5/20/08 Mohegan Sun

    Congratulations to Van Halen as part of the Class of 2007 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

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    got tequila?

    http://keepitaliveforever.com

  13. #13
    Forum Frontman
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bad to the Bone View Post
    Big FAt Money was originally recorded with a different guitar solo but fairburn asked Ed to play something "jazzy" so Ed said "along the lines of this" and played the solo not knowing that Bruce was recording, when Ed finished Bruce said 'perfect" and used that solo.
    AND... Ed played a Gibson 335 for that solo.

  14. #14
    Good Enough Ian Sane's Avatar
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    Great read, thanks for posting vhrocker.
    “And what we have at our fingertips is arguably one of the greatest high tenor voices ever – that was in Michael Anthony. In our tiny little corner of the universe, that voice is as identifiable as the high voice in Earth, Wind & Fire, as identifiable as the high voice in the Beach Boys. Van Halen is an indelicate house blend of both – that’s intentionally. So I would always look forward to that reunion.” - David Lee Roth

  15. #15
    Good Enough Balanced Rock's Avatar
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    07.04.09 @ 09:28 PM
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    "Strung Out" was based on a 10-year-old tape of Eddie torturing Marvin Hamlish's grand piano with knives, spoons and forks. (Ed had rented Marvin's beach house and ended up spending a lot of money to have Marvin's prized piano refinished.)
    Good stuff. I was always under the impression (from rumor) that Ed made the sound by pouring broken glass over the strings and then playing it.

    Thanks rocker.

 

 

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