On this week in 1996, Van Halen released Best Of – Volume 1. Sure, the album promised to please the casual fans with the familiar hits from the Dave and Sammy eras but what would be a reason for the Van Halen die-hards to spend their hard-earned cash on an album with songs they already owned? The band answered that question with not just one but two reasons – “Me Wise Magic” and “Can’t Get This Stuff No More” – two brand new songs featuring the return of David Lee Roth on lead vocals.
Before we ask you to vote on which track you prefer, here is some background on each track:
“Me Wise Magic”
Released 26 years ago today (10/26/96), “Me Wise Magic” became Van Halen’s 13th number one Billboard Mainstream Rock Track, maintaining the top position for six weeks during the fall of ’96. At first listen to Eddie’s demo, Dave wasn’t too keen on the dark guitar intro but eventually got on board. Rather than using some proposed lyrics from producer Glen Ballard, Dave came up with his own, addressing themes of religion, spiritual connections (“I am you and you are me”) and “a little zen headed your way”.
“Can’t Get This Stuff No More”
The music for “Can’t Get This Stuff No More” was originally titled “Backdoor Shuffle” by Eddie and was considered for the band’s 1995 album Balance. In a 1996 Guitar World interview, Eddie referred to the song as a shuffle with a sort of “Panama” groove. This featured Eddie’s only use of a talk box. By the time the song was released, Dave’s brief and highly publicized make up/break up moment at the MTV Video Awards had passed and he was no longer part of Van Halen’s future plans. Gary Cherone would soon after become the band’s third lead singer. Dave’s lyrics in “Can’t Get This Stuff No More” now sounded more like a parting shot: “How many times does somebody lie, ‘fore patience runs her course. Keep that in mind when we say goodbye ’cause you can’t get this stuff no more.”