Van Halen's 1978 self titled debut release is often claimed as one of the greatest debut albums, and no doubt was highly influential to many hard rock acts to follow. Led by eccentric front man David Lee Roth on vocals, with brother's Eddie and Alex Van Halen on guitar and drums, and Michael Anthony on bass, Van Halen delivers one of the best hard rock albums of the seventies. While popular hard rock bands such as Led Zeppelin, Boston and Thin Lizzy were beginning to simmer down in the late seventies, Van Halen brought it back with this excellent debut album Van Halen
produced by Ted Templeton. Most people know Eddie Van Halen as one of rock's greatest guitarists, and it is easy to see why on this album as there is are exceptional and technical guitar solos noticeable in almost every track. He can turn a mediocre song, into a great one with his guitar. Even from the earliest point of Van Halen's records, they show signs of pop on this record that would be even more noticeable in their eighties releases (Diver Down
), although this album does not have any use of synthesizers like those albums, which is my opinion, a good thing. On this album the band does a good job at incorporating hard rock, pop rock, blues rock and metal all together.
Yes, David Lee Roth sings some pretty cheesy lyrics sometimes, but it just makes the songs more fun. Even though the lyrics aren't the greatest on the album, the instruments definitely make up for that in my opinion. Almost every single song on this album is recognizable even if you haven't listened to Van Halen much before. About six of the eleven songs are still receiving air time on the radio and are known as Van Halen classics. Most of these songs appear on the first half of the record. The album, for the most part is solid, as there are no really weak tracks. Some are better than others, but all can stand well on their own. Van Halen?s Van Halen is listed at number 415 on Rolling Stone's top 500 albums of all time.
The opening track is, without a doubt one of the most famous VH songs, Runnin' With The Devil
. After the sound of a train passing, Anthony plays a simple bassline until Eddie starts playing the signature hard rock guitar riff. David sings the verses perfectly until the chorus when the group vocals yell "Runnin' With The Devil!". Eddie also throws in some cool guitar little guitar solos for time to time as which he does them well. This is a great song to blair from the stereo. There couldn't be a better song to start off the album with. Eruption
is the shortest song on the album at 1:42, but it is not really a song. It is an instrumental of Eddie playing one big, crazy sequence of guitar solos. He plays them very fast and then takes small breaks in between where he would then start a new one. Well not a new one, but like a continuation. It is really amazing. Some may look at it as a transitional song or filler (not bad filler though), but I don't. Eddie really shows off his guitar skills on this one. You Really Got Me
is another very famous song. Not because of Van Halen, but because of The Kinks who recorded this song in 1964. The song sounds similar to the original but obviously with the exception of the heavier guitar and solo. This was one of the big singles off the album. It is a well done cover and a highlight of the album. Ain't Talkin 'Bout Love
is another big single from VH and rightfully so. It has the very famous intro wit the distorted guitar played by Eddie until the drums, bass and eventually vocals kick in. The chorus has the effective backing vocals when the band yells the title. Alex provides some solid drumming on this track that standout throughout the song.
I'm The One
opens with a very fast riff by Eddie until David signature voice starts singing the verse also really fast. The chorus is one of the catchiest on the album with David backed up by the band singing: "I'm the one, the one you love/Come on baby, show your love/ Hey! Give it to me"
. Maybe not the greatest lyrics but Van Halen pulls it off quite well. As I already said there is a very good solo in almost song, but this is one that stands out. Jamie's Cryin
is one of Van Halen's more popular songs, however it not one of my favorite VH tunes. The song is a lot slower paced than the previous one. The chorus is fun but can get a little repetitive with too many "Whoas"
from Roth. It is a good track but just not one the best on the album in my opinion. Atomic Punk
starts off with screeching guitar before it goes into the main guitar riff. The song is fairly fast and strong vocals, but what I think saves it is Eddies guitar. Atomic Punk doesnt have the fun, poppy sound that most VH songs on the record have, which is kind of good for a change of pace, but one of the lesser songs here.
Feel Your Love Tonight
brings back the fun. This is another fairly popular VH song, which I think is because of the catchy chorus. The backing vocals work effectively in this track. Now I am sounding repetitive but I must say, stunning solo, even though it's a bit short. Little Dreamer
is one of the more bluesy songs on the album. The song isnt too heavy as it just a Roth's vocals over a basic riff and some simple drumming. The song does get a bit heavier towards the end though where Eddie plays solos from time to time. The backing vocals are definitely most noticeable on this track. Ice Cream Man
is by far the bluesiest on the album. Originally composed by John Brim in the fifties, Van Halen covered it for the album. The first off of the song is just an acoustic guitar with David's vocals, but eventually the electric guitar kicks in which makes for a great rock and roll song. On Fire
closes the album on a hard rocking note, jusy like the album started. The song is a straight forward hard rock one. It has the catchy guitar riff, the background vocals over David, a crazy solo and some fun lyrics; all in exactly three minutes.
Overall, this is a very impressive debut and hailed as one of Van Halen's best records. This is when I think Van Halen were in their best years. David Lee Roth was departed from the group soon after the release of 1984
. In my opinion this album should be in any fan of classic rock collection.
Runnin' With The Devil
Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love