on October 29, 2001
In 1978 the L.A. based rock group VAN HALEN released a self-titled album (known to most fans as VAN HALEN 1) that pushed the limits of the genre and changed the way every longhaired rock and roller played the guitar. Considering the impact this one record had on all rock music that was to follow, it is undeniably one of the most important rock records ever made.
Now imitated to death, Eddie Van Halen's wildly inventive guitar technique of two-handed hammer-on pull-off finger tapping on the fretboard set the new standard for guitar wizardry in the late 1970's. The strength of the Van Halen brothers' musicianship could have made VAN HALEN 1 an essential record, but Michael Anthony's pounding eighth-note anchoring and David Lee Roth's Roger Daltry meets Wayne Newton wailing assured the group a spot in the annals of rock superiority.
The group started out playing small clubs around LA, quickly becoming one of the most popular local acts. Gene Simmons of KISS financed the demo recording that led to the group signing with Warner Brothers and releasing their breakthrough debut album. Strong radio support and constant touring established the group as the leaders of the coming wave of 80's heavy metal. It's painfully obvious that every lead guitarist in every 80's metal band was directly descended from Eddie Van Halen's lineage. Most of these guitarists unquestionably honed their technique by learning to play "Eruption" the instrumental second track on VAN HALEN 1.
The first VAN HALEN album produced 4 "hits" that became staples of AOR radio: "Runnin With the Devil", a cover of the KINKS' "You Really Got Me", "Ain't Talkin Bout Love", and "Jamie's Cryin". (An aside: the opening drum fill from "Jamies Cryin" was sampled for TONE LOC's hit "Wild Thing")
VAN HALEN 1 is not the best VAN HALEN album. Most fans will tell you either FAIR WARNING or WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST hold that dubious title. Regardless of which one is the best, this one is the most historically important. It set new standards as far as guitar playing is concerned, and David Lee Roth took the rock and roll frontman schtick to a new level. What Roth may have lacked in vocal talent he made up for in sheer ballsyness (in spades!). Roth raised the vault bar for all rock singers, and no one was ever able to top it. His James Brown like embellishments on songs like "You Really Got Me" and "Atomic Punk" ooze with sexuality and something that was missing from much late 70's white-boy rock: soul.
The remastered disc of VAN HALEN 1 is the best way to hear this album. The old Warner Brothers CD pressing suffers the same problem that many early CD issues suffer: low sound quality.
The rumor mills keep churning about a supposed reunion between the estranged Roth and the Van Halen brothers. Whether or not that happens is probably irrelevant, as neither side has done anything groundbreaking in 20 years... but back in 1978, VAN HALEN 1 was the most groundbreaking thing the world of rock and roll had heard since Jimi Hendrix asked us if we were experienced.
It was the late 70's and unless you lived through it, it may be kind of hard to understand. Disco ruled the radio, you couldn't turn the dial without finding the latest and greatest by the Bee Gees or The Village People. The term "Rock" was now assigned to bands like Styx or Supertramp. The guitar driven rock of Led Zep, The Who and Kiss, were pushed to the back-burner of the American music scene. Then out of nowhere Van Halen burst onto the scene. With the opening chords of "Runnin' With The Devil" into "Eruption" and "You Really Got Me", Van Halen cemented the new American rock sound. No matter what era of Van Halen you prefer, DLR vs. Sammy, it's impossible to top the band's debut album. This was something new, something purely American, and opened the door to what we know as Hard Rock or Heavy Metal today. It's impossible to listen to any rock artist today and not hear the influence of Van Halen. The 80's hair-metal scene was basically made up of bands immitating this album. Is it coincidence that soon after Van Halen debuted disco died, and bands like Twisted Sister emerged? Why bother reviewing the songs on this disk, unless you have lived under a rock for the last 25+ years you have heard each of the songs on this album at one point or another? These songs are classics, and have stood the test of time. I have owned this album on vinyl, 8-Track, cassette and CD. If you don't own this disk already.....well what are you waiting for. Like The Beatles "Sgt. Pepper", or AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" and Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon", "Van Halen" is an essenital album for your cd collection.
on October 16, 2000
This remains Van Halen's best CD. There is a cynical truth in the music business: you have 10 years to prepare your first album, and only 10 weeks to do your second one.
While Van Halen's subsequent CD's all had great tunes, none were as consitently excellent as this one. The remastering job here is exceptionaly good. The guitar sounds are hot, and clean, the bass and drums sound like they're right in the room, and the vocals are out front, but not inordinately so. You can blast this CD right up to the clipping levels of your electronics, and it sounds clean.
Musically, every song here features some pyrotechnic guitar variation, over a hard driving rhythm section, and complemented by strong vocals by David Lee Roth. In short, it's got the formula that all great rock acts used. But this is not "formula music"; it's the stuff of rock legends, and it's easy to see why VH went straight from LA house parties to super stardom -- headlining in areanas & stadiums-- by the time their 2nd CD came out.
Audiphiles take note: While some "remastered" CD's are barely distinguishable from the originals, this one is a major improvement.
on February 9, 2006
There are very few bands and guitarists in the history of music who changed the face of rock and reinvented the guitar, making everyone who thought they knew the instrument re-evaluate their knowlegde. Well, exactly 28 years ago, on 10 February 1978 came out the greatest rock debut of all times. And to this day, no other guitar album has had more impact on music the same way. Sure there was Hendrix, Clapton, Page, Beck, and many other amazing players before Eddie Van Halen, but even these shredders acknowledged Eddie's impact and unmatchable playing and songwriting. Not since Jimi Hendrix' Are You Experienced? in 1967 were people, both guitarists and fans, so shocked at what they were hearing when "Eruption" hit the waves, displaying yet an unmatched energy, power and technique. Simply put, if there's one album that put guitar-oriented music back in its deserved place in the late 70's and made it stay there for decades on end, it's the self-titled Van Halen debut.
"Eruption" is one of the most important musical statements ever made in the history of rock. Now known as the "brown sound", Eddie Van Halen's monster tone, his acrobatic hammer-ons, pull-offs, whammy-bar dives, and unique trademark two-handed tapping licks on this short instrumental suggest a true virtuoso in every sense of the word. Basically, with this song, Eddie changed everything in the blink of an eye. Even the most prolific guitar players refused to believe the nasty end part of the track was actually played on a guitar, cause it sounded too much like a frenetic keyboard solo. However, what truly makes "Eruption" so timeless is the compositional mindset it entails. Eddie actually wrote this piece way before 1978. There are 1975 bootlegs of Van Halen where Eddie plays a longer version of this piece. The one that ended up on the album is a more refined yet technically challenging version. The most interesting thing about the song, however, is that Eddie recorded it in just two takes. That's not too big a surprise for Van Halen fans though, considering the fact that this band was one of the fastest recording acts in the world and hated going over the same tune more than a handful times.
The album produced two major hits when it was released. The opening song "Runnin' with the Devil" starts out with eight simple bass notes played by Michael Anthony and quickly launches into a hard-rocking anthem that brims with then unheard riffs and burning leads. On "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love", Eddie's opening chords are epic in scope and powerful in impact. Graced with a great chorus and an impeccable back-up harmony, this song probably features Eddie's godliest solo on the album, aside from the untouchable "Eruption" that is. Van Halen's cover of The Kinks, "You Really Got Me", was actually the first single of the album and yielded a lot of fan interest in the band, despite its 2:37 minute running time. The band totally made this tune their own, while staying true to its integrity, they fueled it with their immense musicality and Eddie's soaring lead work. Another cover song on the album was the bluesy John Brim cut "Little Dreamer", instantly catchy with its chorus. The song is special for its acoustic intro though, being the first acoustic stuff Eddie put on tape.
The other songs on the album are Van Halen's poppier hard rock numbers that got the crowds going in concerts, with the groovy bass and sweeping guitar on "Jamie's Cryin'", the ballady "Little Dreamer", and the smoking double solo-inserted "I'm the One". Eddie does some interesting scratching sounds on "Atomic Punk", which has some excellent backing vocals from Mike Anthony and Alex Van Halen. Eddie is "On Fire" on the last song, and his soloing is supposed to show his respect to John McLaughlin, except that I can't put the two guitarists in the same context.
Much like their other Ted Templeman produced classic albums, this disc took a very little time to record. As with their next set of following releases, the music was recorded almost completely live with minimal overdubs. Eddie and the band would only play a song two or three times and pick their favourites. The music was recorded in only six days, while Roth took about two weeks to finish his vocals. The original sound quality wasn't really bad, but Warner Bros decided to remaster it anyway. To this day I still consider sound engineer Donn Landee one of the best in rock. Without Templeman and Landee, Van Halen albums would lack their sonic punch in my opinion. The duo did an amazing job capturing Van Halen's live feel on the first six albums.
It would be hard to imagine a true rocker or metalhead not owning this record. VH1 is not my favourite, but it signalled the beginning of a new era and paved the way for thousands of other bands and guitarists who would rip their songs, image, stage presence, and Ed's chops of course.
on April 25, 2011
I'm an audiophile and have quite an investment in LP gear as well as computer gear so that I can capture my LP's in 24bit / 192khz glory. This album is the best sounding, best pressed, LP reissue I have bought in 20 years. It is so quiet that there is virtually no surface noise to be detected. I never thought I would hear vinyl this clear and clean ever again.
As for the sound, let's just say that it blows away every CD issued, including the DCC Gold disc version. The sound is warm and analog just like the original recording. All the minute details are there without any of that horrible over compressed, volume limited sound most "loudness war" cd's have these days. All you get is the sound the original artist intended.
I mean this 180g pressing sound so good that I'm litterally about to drool just thinking about listening to it again. I feel like this album is a bell and I'm Pavlov's dog! Mmmmm....
on February 1, 2005
Picture this: I'm a teenager and I'm in to the electric guitar. I own a black copy Les Paul and a fairly nice amplifier. I am up in my bedroom and trying to learn all the cool guitar licks. I know of all the rock guitar Gods--Clapton, Beck, Page, Hendrix, Nugent,Derringer, the list goes on and on. I'm putting my guitar away for the night and switch on the radio on my stereo. The FM DJ announces that he's about to play a new band that just released a debut album. Half-curious, I kind of listen to hear what this new band sounds like...
Then the song "Eruption" blasts through my stereo speakers. I stand, slack-jawed, in the middle of my bedroom. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I had never heard anything like it! Then the song goes right into the power chords of the Kinks clasic "You Really Got Me", only this version is louder and grittier. Then this kind of raspy, cocky, in-your-face voice starts belting out the lyrics. I AM SPELLBOUND!!
For the next two weeks, kids in school are talking about this new band called "Van Halen."
I wish I could describe what a buzz and rush it was when this band came on the scene. IT WAS AWESOME!!
Side-note: Yes, Eddie is a guitar God and I love Sammy Hagar, but I believe during the Van Halen years, David lee Roth was the greatest frontman in rock-n-roll. (notice I didn't say he was the greatest SINGER in rock-n-roll, I said he was the greatest FRONTMAN)
Now that it is remastered, it is great to hear these classics. I can almost see David Lee Roth high-jumping, doing in- the- air splits and kicks, I can see Eddie playing the guitar like it was in his hands the day he was born,Michael and Alex keeping the pulsing beat.
WOW! Sometimes I wish we were all back there!
on April 18, 2015
Slightly lower signal output, but improved clarity and separation throughput the tonal spectrum, with deeper, warmer bass, and clearer high-end with less harshness and glare. Same applies to 1984. I'll definitely pop for all 6 DLR VH albums, although the free MP3's appear to be derived from the original CD'S, not the '15 remasters! My above review based on side-by-side comparison of '00 & '15 remastered CD'S. I'll keep and listen to everything!
on July 1, 2004
What can one say about this stunning debut from the greatest band of all time? To say it revolutionalized the rock scene is an understatment. "Eruption", while not as magical a listen as it was when it first came out, is still one of the best solo's ever recorded. Introducing the two-handed technique, displaying a masterful knowledge of the fretboard, blinding speed, and whammy bar acrobatics all wrapped up into a 2 minute masterpiece of musical brilliance, Eddie Van Halen solidified his spot in the pantheon of guitar gods, and this is just the second cut. Their cover of the Kinks "You Really Got Me" could be one of the best covers ever produced. Burning fretwork also shows up in the solo to 'Ice Cream Man' and the closing track 'On Fire'. After listening to these, you would think that he was all go, all the time, but what Eddie is truly underappreciated for is his ability to lay back and and play rythm. The rythm to 'Atomic Punk' and 'Little Dreamer' show how tight the band is as a unit. Bass player Michael Anthony and drummer Alex Van Halen lay as solid a foundation as you can get, and Eddie has an amazing ability to let the song breath. Vocally, David Lee Roth never sang better than he did on this cd. His playful singing style really complements the guitar, and his lyrics are great for whatever the mood of the song is. Another one of the most overlooked aspects of the Vna Halen sound is the backup vocals of Michale Anthony and Eddie. Eddie's low voice, and Mikes amazingly powerful highs created a three octave sound when added to Roth's. This gave even there heaviest songs an approachable feel to the unknown listener. not so much pop, but enough to catch the ear. Great hooks.
A must have for any fan of music.
on February 2, 2006
The evolution of Rock Guitar playing:
1. Chuck Berry
2. Jimi Hendrix
3. Jeff Beck/Jimmy Page
4. Edward Van Halen.
5. C'mon there's hasn't been anyone since then...
When Eddie erupted (pretty punny) on the music scene way back in the day (I was a senior in "High" School), his outrageously phenomenal extravagonzo guitar playing basically blew away all the reigning guitar gods who thought they were cool (a few were pretty decent, though) and had them all scrambling to learn and re-create the supersonic sounds that came so easy to Sensei Eddie Van Halen. Every song on this album is basically an advanced lesson in futuristic guitar playing. Nowadays, anyone and their grandmother's grandmother can do hyperdrive hammer ons and pull offs sprinkled with some telepathic psycho harmonic doorbells concluding with a kamikaze dive bomb whammy bar...but way back then, it was Eddie. Just like Jimmy with a violin bow, it was Eddie and his tapping. He introduced these techniques and more to us mere mortal guitar wankers weaned on Marino, Montrose, Nuge, Travers, Trower, and Derringer. Another thing, Eddie's practiced in the art of D&D; Denial and Deception. He claims he's influenced by Clapton when really it's Jeff Beck. Sure he knows a few Clapton licks but he did this to throw all guitar pretenders off his trail. Listen to Beck and you'll see. At that time only a young Randy Rhodes matched Eddie for sheer extreme virtuosity. He's another favorite of mine and I will soon comment. Van Halen's debut album has to be ranked as one of the top 10 best rock albums of all time. It is truly pioneering and hey, I haven't even mentioned Diamond Dave yet. Okay, in a nutshell: bar none, he's the best rock frontman ever. But that's another story.
on August 7, 2015
This is the album that started it all and the 2015 remaster is fantastic! The clarity of the drums, Eddie's guitar, and all the rest have amazing impact and truly do the digital medium justice.
After all these years, the music has aged well and makes the listener lament the horrible state of today's pop music and the recycled garbage that is passed off as rock.
The album opens with "Running with the Devil." Yep, it's that same devil the Rolling Stones cashed in on one decade earlier only this one plays a mean guitar with an equally sassy front man. Pete Townshend's pronouncements that "rock is dead" in the age of disco were certainly just blowing smoke, and speaking of smoke, the album then erupts with the guitar pyrotechnics of "Eruption." They then remake a rock classic, the Kinks, "You Really Got Me," which rockers will certainly recognize their old favorite dressed up in new clothes as Van Halen performs it.
Most of the rest of the album has become classic rock standard repertoire with songs including "Ain't Talking About Love," "Jamie's Crying," "Feel Your Love," "Little Dreamer," and "On Fire." Just for fun, the album's next to last track, "Ice Cream Man," adds some just pure sweet fun to the onslaught of vicious hard rock.
In 1978, VAN HALEN, made a huge musical statement. Maybe the bands of the 60's had largely grown old and many had hung up their guitars for good, but rock wasn't dead. Disco hadn't suffocated it. Van Halen picked up where the previous generation left off, and with shades of Jimi Hendrix, :Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones, these American rockers cranked up the volume and let 'er rip. Rock fans remain forever grateful.