Studio album by Van Halen
Released May 24, 1988
Recorded September 1987 - April 1988 at 5150 Studios, Hollywood, CA
Genre Hard rock
Length 50:09
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Van Halen and Donn Landee
Van Halen chronology
For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge

OU812 is the 8th studio album by American hard rock band Van Halen, released in 1988. The album title is allegedly a joke on Van Halen's previous lead singer David Lee Roth's 1986 album Eat 'Em and Smile (OU812 translates phonetically to "Oh, you ate one too?"). However, "OU812" was also seen in the 70s sitcom Taxi written on a wall. The first person to use the phrase was Redd Foxx.[1] Furthermore, "OU812" is the license plate on the red Ferrari that Cheech and Chong drive in Cheech & Chong's Next Movie (released in 1980).

Van Halen started work on the album in September 1987; the album would be finished in April 1988, just one month before its release.

The original European release (as shipped in France, Germany, Italy and the UK) is missing track 10, as are all vinyl pressings of the album. The CD and some cassette versions have Track 10. The track listing on the back cover is arranged in alphabetical order, instead of in sequence.

The album is dedicated to Eddie and Alex's father, Jan, who died in December 1986 at the age of 66. The inner linings of the album include the words, "This one's for you, Pa". Jan Van Halen had previously appeared playing clarinet on one track, "Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)". on Van Halen's 1982 album, Diver Down.[2]

In a magazine interview published some years after the release of the album, Eddie Van Halen expressed his displeasure with the final mix of the album, saying, "Sonically it was shit."


Details behind the songs

Mine All Mine

"Mine All Mine" kicks off the album. During production in a ten day period, Sammy Hagar was having a hard time writing lyrics to the song, until one day, Donn Landee suggested that everybody leave so he and Hagar could work on the lyrics alone. After seven rewrites and a bottle of tequila, Hagar sang the vocals from beginning to end in one take. When he finished, Landee embraced Hagar, before calling everybody back in the studio, where they heard Sammy's vocals done.

When It's Love

After being picked up by the Van Halen brothers at the airport, Sammy listened, in the car, to the piano and drum tracks of the song by Eddie and Alex from the night before. After repeated listenings, Sammy came up with the lyrics and melodies and it fell into place.

A.F.U. (Naturally Wired)

"A.F.U. (Naturally Wired)" is an adrenaline-pumping song, reflecting on the energy and the intensity of the band on tour.

Cabo Wabo

"Cabo Wabo" was a reference to the band's, particularly Sammy Hagar's, love of the Mexican resort town of Cabo San Lucas. In April 1990, the band opened the Cabo Wabo Cantina in the city. However, the venture was soon bought out to be owned by Hagar in its entirety. Hagar later parlayed this into a premium tequila brand sold around the world, Cabo Wabo.[3] Sammy's involvement with "Cabo Wabo" ended up becoming a major point of contention between him and the Van Halen brothers; and the song, considered by many to be one of the favorites of the Hagar era, was eventually dropped from Van Halen setlists altogether.

Source Of Infection

Although it was considered a joke song, some lyrics to "Source Of Infection" referred to Eddie Van Halen's recent health scare. In April 1988, while vacationing with wife Valerie Bertinelli off the coast of Turtle Island (located off the Australian coast) for their wedding anniversary, Eddie was infected by the dengue fever virus. Two days later, his temperature reached 105 degrees Fahrenheit and he had to spend five days recuperating in the local hospital.

Feels So Good

"Feels So Good" was a song that was out of the ordinary for Van Halen. Sammy and Eddie liked the song, but Alex and Mike did not as they felt it was too pop. As of 2011, this song has never been played live on tour.

Finish What Ya Started

"Finish What Ya Started" was another first for the band, as they explored the acoustic sound. Late one night, Sammy and Eddie jammed on the beach with two acoustic guitars over tequila and cigarettes, and Hagar ran upstairs and downstairs to write lyrics on the spot. In 1990, the group granted permission for the track to be used as the opening theme song to Valerie Bertinelli's short-lived CBS sitcom, Sydney.[4]

Black And Blue

"Black And Blue" was a song dripping with sex, based on Sammy's experiences during the tour supporting 5150, where he was actually bruised up pretty badly.

Sucker In A 3 Piece

"Sucker In A 3 Piece" was a song written about a moment, when Sammy Hagar was visiting Cabo San Lucas, he saw an attractive 23-year-old woman poolside with a 60-year-old rich man, possibly a suit.

A Apolitical Blues

"A Apolitical Blues" was a Little Feat cover that finishes the album. This is the only cover song Van Halen recorded with Sammy Hagar that was included on a studio album. Coincidentally, Donn Landee used to engineer Little Feat albums, working under Ted Templeman. So when Hagar suggested doing the song to Landee, Donn agreed and suggested to the band that they use the same setup Little Feat used to record the song, which was the band played together in one room with two microphones on each corner.

Numb To The Touch

"Numb To The Touch" was written and supposed to be on the album, but it wasn't finished in time, so it wasn't released. According to Sammy Hagar, it was supposed to be a traditional heavy metal song, similar to Whitesnake.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[5]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[6]
Robert Christgau (C)[7]

Reviews for OU812 were initially mixed. The Village Voice's Robert Christgau rated the album a C, 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."[7]

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."[6]

A retrospective review from Allmusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine was fairly positive. Erlewine stated that "when David Lee Roth fronted the band, almost everything that Van Halen did seemed easy – as big, boisterous, and raucous as an actual party – but Van Hagar makes good times seem like tough work here." Still, he stated that "the riffs are complicated, not catchy, the rhythms plod, they don't rock, and Sammy strains to inject some good times by singing too hard." However, he concluded that "if it isn't as good as [Fair Warning] (even if it's nearly not as much fun), it's nevertheless the best showcase of the instrumental abilities of Van Hagar."[5]

In popular culture

The title of the album was referenced in Season 1, Episode 7 of the American TV series, Chuck, entitled "Chuck Versus the Alma Mater." The secret code to reprogram the master television remote in the Buy More store was "O-U-8-1-2."

The Band Mr. Bungle's 1989 demo was entitled OU818.[citation needed]

Track listing

All songs written by Van Halen, except where noted.

  1. "Mine All Mine" – 5:11
  2. "When It's Love" – 5:36
  3. "A.F.U. (Naturally Wired)" – 4:28
  4. "Cabo Wabo" – 7:04
  5. "Source of Infection" – 3:58
  6. "Feels So Good" – 4:27
  7. "Finish What Ya Started" – 4:20
  8. "Black and Blue" – 5:24
  9. "Sucker in a 3 Piece" – 5:52
  10. "A Apolitical Blues" (Lowell George) – 3:50



  • Producer: Van Halen, Donn Landee
  • Engineer: Donn Landee
  • Assistant engineer: Ken Deane
  • Mastering: Bobby Hata
  • Art direction: Jeri Heiden, Maura P. McLaughlin
  • Photography: Eika Aoshima, Stuart Watson

Album Cover

It is unknown whether this was the intention or not, but the album cover for this album bears resembalance to The Beatles' With The Beatles album cover.


Region Certification Sales/shipments
United Kingdom (BPI)[8] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[9] 4× Platinum 4,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone



Billboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1988 The Billboard 200 1


Billboard (North America)

Year Single Chart Position
1988 "Black and Blue" Mainstream Rock Tracks 1
The Billboard Hot 100 34
"Cabo Wabo" Mainstream Rock Tracks 31
"Feels So Good" Mainstream Rock Tracks 6
"Finish What Ya Started" Mainstream Rock Tracks 2
The Billboard Hot 100 13
"When It's Love" Mainstream Rock Tracks 1
The Billboard Hot 100 5
"Mine All Mine Mainstream Rock Tracks 50
1989 "Feels So Good" The Billboard Hot 100 35

Unused tracks

  • Numb to the Touch[10]


  1. ^ Van Halen Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ's Page[dead link]
  2. ^ Diver Down
  3. ^ Cabo Wabo
  4. ^ "Valerie Bertinelli plays private eye 'Sydney' in new comedy". The Charleston News and Courier. April 11, 1990. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=wYRJAAAAIBAJ&sjid=1QsNAAAAIBAJ&pg=1157,3595383&dq=sydney+bierko+bertinelli&hl=en. 
  5. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. OU812 at Allmusic. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  6. ^ a b Fricke, David (June 30, 1988). "OU812". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/ou812-19880630. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "CG: Van Halen". The Village Voice. http://robertchristgau.com/get_artist.php?name=van+halen. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  8. ^ "British album certifications – Van Halen – OU812". British Phonographic Industry. http://www.bpi.co.uk/certifiedawards/search.aspx.  Enter OU812 in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  9. ^ "American album certifications – Van Halen – OU812". Recording Industry Association of America. http://www.riaa.com/goldandplatinumdata.php?artist=%22OU812%22.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  10. ^ Ye Olde Metal
Preceded by
Faith by George Michael
Billboard 200 number-one album
June 25 - July 22, 1988
Succeeded by
Hysteria by Def Leppard

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