“When It’s Love” is a power ballad by the American rock band Van Halen. It was released as a single from their album OU812. It was the most popular song from that album, hitting #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts and #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song has been a live performance staple since it was released in 1988. The song was also included in the setlist for the band’s ill-fated 1998 tour with Gary Cherone. Eddie has stated that this particular guitar solo is a nod to Eric Clapton.
It was featured on a VH1 special, “The Greatest: 25 Greatest Power Ballads,” where it was ranked as the 24th greatest power ballad of all time.
The album OU812 (pronounced “Oh You Ate One Too”) is the eighth studio album by American hard rock band Van Halen, released in 1988, and the second to feature vocalist Sammy Hagar. Van Halen started work on the album in September 1987 and completed it in April 1988, just one month before its release.
Reviews for OU812 were initially mixed. Robert Christgau rated the album a C in The Village Voice, which signifies “a record of clear professionalism or barely discernible inspiration, but not both.” He noted that “trading Dave for Sammy sure wrecked their shot at Led Zep of the ’80s–master guitarist, signature vocalist, underrated rhythm section.” However, he stated: “Eddie’s obsessed with technique, Roth’s contemptuous of technique, rhythm section’s got enough technique and no klutz genius. But Sammy . . . like wow. If I can’t claim the new boy owns them […], you can’t deny he defines them.” Rolling Stone’s David Fricke rated the album three-and-a-half out of five stars. He said of “Source of Infection”: “While Eddie Van Halen sprays you with a machine-gun succession of speed-metal-guitar arpeggios, Sammy Hagar sends out the party invitations with his usual savoir-faire — “Hey! All right! Whoo!” Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony, of course, take him at his word, shooting into hyper-beat space before you can say, “Jump.”” He noted that “Van Halen, contrary to purist grumbling, did not wimp out when Diamond Dave hit the bricks. Nor did the band go — ugh! — pop: the 5150 ladies’ choice “Why Can’t This Be Love” wasn’t really a ballad; it was more like Big Rock Melancholia. In fact, all the 5150-model Van Halen did was replace one mighty mouth with another and trot out some hip, new songwriting tricks.” Still, he stated that “the curve balls […] don’t always hit the strike zone. “Finish What Ya Started” is an unexpected turn into wheat-field-rock country.” Despite this, he concluded that “maybe Eddie and company haven’t been pushing the envelope, so to speak, far enough in terms of songwriting. But “Mine All Mine” is a good teaser for the future, the slow stuff is classy radio fare, and at its best, OU812 is a veritable feast of great white rock & roll wow.” Xavier Russell of Kerrang! was more enthusiastic and called OU812 “loud, rude, dirty and very much a Van Halen album”.
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