Van Halen – Van Halen (1978)

The late 1970s seemed a bad time for rock and roll. Indeed, most of the good progressive rock had been done, disco was everywhere and punk was a nasty underground movement of the time. But, along came a California based band called Van Halen to save the day.

The band was a bunch of virtuosos. The four of them each had an ability to rock and showed a great ability to do so. David Lee Roth could howl, Eddie Van Halen could rock out, Michael Anthony could really excel as a backing vocalist and bassist and Alex Van Halen could do loud and powerful drumming like nothing before.

So, what does the album sound like? Let’s have a closer look.

The intro to Runnin’ With The Devil and the entire album is a mesh of the band member’s car horns, slowed down of course. It then kicks off. It’s a loud, in your face, rocker and does so well here. It’s a great song too.

The instrumental called Eruption is a hugely popular Eddie Van Halen piece, all recorded in one take. Producer Ted Templeman overhead Eddie Van Halen play it and suggested that he record it. The result is a wonderful, futuristic sounding shred fest which is short and sweet. A great job from Eddie.

You Really Got Me is indeed, a cover of The Kinks song. But it’s such a great cover that it sounds like an original from the band. With a twist in the guitar solo and David Lee Roth sounding very sexual, it’s a great cover.

Ain’t Talkin ‘Bout Love is a great song. It has a variety of sounds on it and goes very quiet in the middle. It’s likely that David Lee Roth was talking about the importance of non-romantic sexual experiences here, and does pretty well in serving up a solution. A great song by Van Halen.

The next piece is the quick and upbeat I’m The One. It’s a very party-like song but is not dull at all. It breaks down into an interesting midsection where David Lee Roth goes into female soul singer mode. Brilliant.

After that we have Jamie’s Cryin’ which is a fairly weak track, but not out of place on the album. It’s about a girl who is in love with the wrong sort of guy. It’s still listenable, mind you.

Atomic Punk sounds, wow, kind of different. The palm-muted intro by Eddie Van Halen sounds awesome here. It’s a good song too, about a postmodern mythical Atomic Punk. It’s likely these guys were influenced by some Progressive Rock ideals here. Still, it’s great to listen to.

Feel Your Love Tonight is a good piece with a chugging riff to boot. It is representative of these guys in a good way, and even though it does seem a little weaker, it’s still sonically awesome to hear on this album.

The next piece Little Dreamer talks about someone who was bullied at high school, only to surprise everyone by surviving. It’s a strange sort of sentiment, but hey, it sounds very good indeed.

After that, we arrive at Ice Cream Man. This is acoustic blues, and totally underrated too. It’s very brilliantly done, particularly by David Lee Roth, and sounds refreshing. These guys obviously had studied their musical history as well.

On Fire is a great song to finish the album by. It has some awesome yelping by David Lee Roth and some nice guitar licks by Eddie Van Halen. It fades out nicely as the album comes to a close.

This album made Van Halen. It has sold 10 million copies and secured guitarist Eddie Van Halen into the rock history books. But also, the songs are fantastic here. It is absolutely worth listening to this gem of an album, it’s almost perfect in its own way. Van Halen has made many recordings during their lifetime as a band. This, by far, is their best though.

9/10

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