Van Halen
Van Halen


5.0
classic

Review

by Daniel Dias USER (73 Reviews)
June 13th, 2014 | 47 replies


Release Date: 1978 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An album that changed rock 'n' roll forever.

In 1978, Van Halen changed rock 'n' roll forever, fueled by Eddie Van Halen's monstruous talent as a guitarist and his introduction of diverse techniques of guitar tapping back to modern rock 'n' roll, David Lee Roth's unique vocals and flamboyant antics as a frontman of a rock band, Michael Anthony's ability to play bass and serve as backup for Eddie, and Alex Van Halen's furious and energetic style of drumming. Initially, Van Halen was just a regular bar band from California, just trying to catch a big break. Playing clubs in Pasadena and Hollywood, Van Halen started gaining a following. Eventually, KISS' Gene Simmons, impressed mainly by Eddie's virtuosity as a guitarist, approached Eddie and Alex Van Halen, who were huge fans of KISS. Gene produced a demo tape for VH and tried to offer some help by sending their demo to legendary Electric Lady Studios, in New York. On a side note, Gene even wanted to change the band's name to Daddy Longlegs (anyone can tell from that name that it was a Gene Simmons idea). Electric Lady Studios turned VH down, claiming that "they had no chance of making it". Well, who would've known? A little less than a year later, Van Halen hit the stores and it soon became one of rock's most influential and successful debut albums ever.

Van Halen was a party band in every sense of the word, a very free 'n' easy type of band, and that's quite evident in their debut. VH's lyrics didn't approach any serious topics, it was all about partying, chilling and having a damn good time. Quite honestly, that's what was good and special about Van Halen. Plus, most tracks in their catalog present quite a relaxed feel too. All of that is quite remarkable in Van Halen and distinctive of the band's style. VH's debut introduced Eddie's amazing virtuosity and guitar skills, presenting one of rock's greatest guitar-driven instrumentals in Eruption, that show why Edward Van Halen is considered one of the best guitarists of all time. Eddie's techniques could only be matched by David Lee Roth's distinctive vocals and his antics on and off stage. The two almost seemed to battle for who got more protagonism, and that battle pushed them to the edge and made them want to become better and better. That being said, it's no wonder the two represented Van Halen's driving force. It's also no wonder they shined so bright in VH's debut, presenting some great talent and some amazing performances. It was a healthy battle (that some years later would stop being so healthy) that made Van Halen grow as a band and made their potentials blossom.

Van Halen presents some true VH classics and some definite fan-favorites. Except maybe On Fire, which sounded much more promising and exciting in its demo form, VH's debut doesn't have any bad songs or boring moments. Presenting classics such as Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love and Ice Cream Man, to name a few, it showed how much Van Halen had to give to rock 'n' roll. Mixing rock and blues influences, they created a cornerstone album for hard rock and simultaneously shaped what would become glam metal. Van Halen's numerous highlights defined the band's style and what they could build upon in the future. Let's go into a little bit more individual detail in Van Halen's tracks. A special reference goes to the two cover tracks that can be found in this album, Kinks cover You Really Got Me and John Brim cover Ice Cream Man. The band picked up two completely distinct tracks from two completely different artists and turned those tracks into true VH classics and live staples. In You Really Got Me, Van Halen preserves the raw energy of the original version but adds their own style and technical proficiency into it, and in Ice Cream Man a stupendous electric guitar solo by Eddie (it's Eddie Van Halen, what else did you expect?) is added to the original version's bluesy touch, making it a much more entertaining tune.

It's in VH's original compositions that they sound most comfortable and strong. That says some great stuff about Van Halen, because the covers are also amazing tracks. Aside from the outstanding instrumental Eruption, some of VH's most blues-influenced and best tracks can be found in Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love and Little Dreamer. There is also time for the most feel-good tracks, such as I'm The One, that features a hilarious interlude, Jamie's Cryin', that has one of the album's catchiest choruses, a great use of Eddie's wah-wah guitar and one of Michael Anthony's best performances, and Feel Your Love Tonight, that is probably not as consistent or as entertaining as the other tracks, but it still does a pretty good job at showcasing everyone's talent. Lastly, there are also the album's most straightforward rock tracks, such as Atomic Punk and the opener Runnin' With the Devil, that is probably among VH's most well known songs, presenting one of Eddie's most melodic solos. Basically, in Van Halen's debut, there is something for everybody to enjoy. Van Halen presents a lot of diversity, and that was important to make it as special and regarded as it is today.

It's no wonder Van Halen is regarded as a classic. Remember when Led Zeppelin was released, back in 1969? Remember when Are You Experienced? was released, a couple of years before? Remember when, in 1970, Black Sabbath was released? Remember what critics said? Stuff such as "They'll never make an album again" and "In a couple of years, no one's gonna remember 'em". It's true that as a band, Van Halen is not as regarded or as recognised as Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix or Black Sabbath. But what happened with Van Halen at first is similar to what happened to those bands when they were getting started. Misunderstood by casual listeners and hammered down by critics. But it wouldn't be long before people realized that those bands were a lot better than people imagined. What happened to VH is quite similar. Initially, no one gave Van Halen any credit or thought they could ever make something special. But it took people some time to understand that they had already created something special, in their very first album. Van Halen is a classic and it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. If you haven't heard it yet, buy it, download it or steal it from a friend. Just listen to it and be amazed. Because Van Halen has a little bit for everyone to enjoy. "They don't make 'em like they used to".



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user ratings (916)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
danielcardoso
June 13th 2014


2641 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Album is a classic, no doubt about it.
Might review VH's first 6 albums in the next few days.

MO
June 13th 2014


19078 Comments


yea it's sweet

tempest--
June 13th 2014


14628 Comments


awesome album

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
June 13th 2014


20158 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ain't talkin' bout love is such a jam

Digging: Johann Sebastian Bach - Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050

tempest--
June 13th 2014


14628 Comments


Eddie is the best guitarist of all time #realtalk

danielcardoso
June 13th 2014


2641 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

EVH is certainly one of my favs ever.

dannyboy89
June 13th 2014


13065 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Pos'd. Used to be a fan of EVH, but times have changed. Still respect his legacy though.

manosg
June 13th 2014


6732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not a big fan of the album or Eddie but I respect his technique and Van Halen's place in history. Nice write up too.

Digging: Whitesnake - Slide It In

danielcardoso
June 13th 2014


2641 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks, Danny and Manosg. I, for one, am a big VH fan. Keep an eye out for my next VH reviews

beefshoes
June 13th 2014


4354 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review, fun album.
I loved VH when I was younger.

Digging: Christopher Lee - A Heavy Metal Christmas

danielcardoso
June 13th 2014


2641 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks, Beefshoes.
Nice avatar btw ;)

beefshoes
June 13th 2014


4354 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks man. PG is probably my favourite singer and solo artist of all time.
Is this your favourite VH record?

danielcardoso
June 13th 2014


2641 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It's certainly my favorite one, but I personally enjoy every VH album with David Lee Roth a lot, expect A Different Kind Of Truth.

Curse.
Contributing Reviewer
June 13th 2014


8021 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

EVH best guitarist of all time. I love this album, but Women and Children First is actually my favorite by them

MrSirLordGentleman
June 13th 2014


4881 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent album

BMDrummer
June 13th 2014


9981 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review, album is a fun listen.

AIN'T TALKIN BOUT LOVE

danielcardoso
June 13th 2014


2641 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Curse - EVH is definitely one of my favorites. Women And Children First has a lot of cool jams.

Thanks for commenting, Lord and Drummer. And you're right, album rules.

beefshoes
June 13th 2014


4354 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ever since I bought Fair Warning when I was 12 or so, it's been my favourite. It's their heaviest, and it was one of the first albums that showed me that the radio/popular tracks aren't always the best.

danielcardoso
June 13th 2014


2641 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah, Fair Warning is an awesome album too. Mean Street rules hard, it has that awesome intro by Eddie and a great chorus, Sinner's Swing has some great riffs and it rocks pretty hard too, and Unchained is pretty wicked, mainly because of that main riff and that "C'mon, Dave! Give me a break!" quote. I'm just naming a few. The only track I'm not too fond of is Dirty Movies and that strange instrumental. Otherwise, it's a damn cool album.

beefshoes
June 13th 2014


4354 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Definitely!
I am going to have to find the time to jam it here fairly soon.
Now that I think about it, Diver Down had some cool moments too. It's probably the weakest DLR album, but that's not saying much.



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