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Together again? // Van Halen is banking on David Lee Roth

Rock's reunion of the microsecond: Van Halen. Sammy Hagar's out, David Lee Roth's back in, sort of. What's next? The Captain & Tennille on TV again?

When Roth left Van Halen in 1985 _ or was strongly asked to leave, depending on whom you believe _ accusations flew from both camps. The hyper Roth, a frontman extraordinaire with a reputation for camp excess and sexist shenanigans, was an annoyance, band members said. And not much of a singer, either. Ouch.

Roth groused in turn that the boys didn't approve of his then-burgeoning solo career, which has since busted.

So it's back to Van Halen. Hagar _ who had been with the band for 11 years (as was Roth) _ left the hard rock group because of "creative differences." Roth is in the studio now with his old mates, collaborating on new tracks for a greatest hits collection due in the fall _ but he's not officially back in. Warner Bros.' official line is that the band is "considering a replacement."

Surprised? Don't be. Sure, it's mildly shocking that the original Van Halen would even speak together, let alone take to the studio again. But money is driving the bus here. The commercially savvy Van Halen knows having Roth back in the fold will attract new attention to the band (the last Van Halen tour, promoting the boring Balance CD, was a dud). A reunion with Roth, the former Clown Prince of Rock, should be good for a laugh _ Van Halen was more fun with Roth, even if it functioned better as a band with Hagar _ not to mention a major-bucks tour if it comes off.

Elsewhere, you can almost certainly expect to see Motley Crue take back fired vocalist Vince Neil now, despite plans to release Personality 9, a new CD with replacement vocalist John Corabi, in the fall. Motley's first tour and CD with Corabi two years ago was a disaster.

Are you listening, Sonny & Cher? Tony Orlando and Dawn? Velvet Underground?

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