In theory, a Van Halen greatest-hits collection should be easy to assemble, but Best Of, Vol. 1 proves that isn't the case. By trying to give the David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar eras equal space, they wind up not representing either particularly well. The first eight songs run through several of Diamond Dave's biggest songs -- "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love," "Runnin' With the Devil," "And the Cradle Will Rock," "Jump," and "Panama." It's hard to argue with any of the choices, yet significant songs like "You Really Got Me," "Beautiful Girls," "(Oh) Pretty Woman," "I'll Wait," and "Hot for Teacher" are missing. Similarly, the Sammy era has many big hits -- "Why Can't This Be Love," "Dreams," "When It's Love," and "Right Now" -- but skips over hits like "Love Walks In," "Black and Blue," and "Finish What Ya Started." Clearly, the collection would have been better served if it had been assembled as a double-disc set, with Dave and Sammy getting a disc apiece. Furthermore, the much-hyped reunion tracks with Roth, "Can't Get This Stuff No More" and "Me Wise Magic," are a slight disappointment; the band sounds good, but neither track contains a memorable hook. Also, the presence of "Humans Being," one of Van Halen's worst tracks, is an insult, considering how many great songs are missing. Nevertheless, Best Of, Vol. 1 remains a good single-disc encapsulation of Van Halen's career, even if it isn't a definitive retrospective.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine