Friday, February 23, 2007

Van Halen-s/t, 1978

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
One of the things that is commonly attached to this album is the notion that it was important in saving rock music. That might very well be true to some extent. By the start of 1978, disco, new wave and punk were all cutting into a piece of the pie that had largely been ruled by hard rock between say 1970-1975. Also some of the big bands of the earlier part of the decade were changing as Deep Purple were gone and Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin were not the bands that they once were. Acts like Rush, Ted Nugent, Judas Priest and AC/DC were still going strong, but there was room for more. The opening track here is of course "Running with the devil" and it's a good example of Roth-era Van Halen. You have the easy little sound of Michael Anthony's bass and an even guitar coming in, but then you have some good Diamond Dave howls, some big Alex Van Halen drum beats and a ripping solo from Eddie. Van Halen in their prime were largely mixes of the simple and the extreme and that was part of their charm and appeal for me. Then the album rips into the guitar instrumental "Eruption" and only two tracks in and Eddie is already establishing himself as the next real guitar hero. Their cover of "You really got me" sees the band sounding way more experienced than a band doing their debut should sound. Eddie always blew off the main riff for "'Ain't talkin' 'bout love" as being kind of a joke, but this is a great song for all involved. "I'm the one" closes side one and it's a good track for showing the band's ability to bring a real groove to their music. Flip it over to side two and "Jamie's cryin" starts it off and we a good earful of how effective this band can make their vocals sound. "Atomic Punk" is a wild song with an edgy riff and a good amount of energy. "Feel your love night" is at times a little forgotten, but again it has some of what became the trademark vocals that this band was once so good at doing. "Little Dreamer" although decent might be the only track here that's not quite as interesting to me as the rest of the album. "Ice cream man" is all about Diamond Dave and boy does he carry and sell it. The album finishes up with a big ripper called on "On fire" with all the members laying like crazy. What a debut for these guys as they threw it all out there and it wasn't over yet as they were going to be at the top of their game for another six years. It has certainly not lost anything over the years as it still shines today as a fine example of guitar based hard rock. I didn't hear this until like 1984 and was stunned then. I can only imagine that people who first heard in 1978 had to have someone pick their jaws up off of the floor.

16 Comments:

Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

I know that my cousin had it first and she was hesitant to let it be played around me when I was eight. If she only knew I'd turn into a headbanger, but I remember 98 Rock even then were starting to play "Jamie's Cryin'" when it was first out and I'd ask my cousin to turn it up. Such a neat sound. By the time I got the album in 1983 or whenever, I sat on the floor and went "Wowwww..." I don't think I was right again after hearing "Eruption" for the first time.

8:59 PM  
Blogger FredCQ said...

What a great album. It's a shame that they can't get it together with the reunion.

3:05 AM  
Blogger captain corky said...

I don't think Van Halen gets enough credit. They were one of the biggest rock bands of the eighties. They owned the first half of the decade and U2 owned the second half.

4:26 AM  
Blogger Nosjunkie said...

I cannot believe that I have only found this place now. you speck my language man.
While I am not big on van halen I grew up on Purple an Black sabath. I inhereted my dads old LP's.
I also had a Purple CD stolen from me that I have never seen in music shop.
It has the best version of smoke on the water I have ever heard.
So far I can remember it was recorded at a concert in Tokyo

5:46 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

This is my favorite VH album. Runnin with the Devil was a great way to start off their debut album. I always liked Jamie's Cryin' also. I'm partial to cool bass riffs. Ice Cream Man shows that they had a senseof humor, which draws me to them even more.

6:06 AM  
Blogger On My Watch said...

I was about 12 when this came out. My older brother bought it and we’d listen to it on our gigantic fake-wooden stereo/8-track player. He’d sit by one speaker, and I was by the other one, turned it up all the way, made that old thing vibrate from hell.

I believe that was the beginning of my air-guitar career, too. It was so different from anything else we’d heard so far and immediately loved it! We played it repeatedly and I liked every song on it – still do.

It was such a major turning point for me, as far as veering away from the sheep at school that were still dominated by the Grease soundtrack. Sadly, they never did catch on.

6:41 AM  
Blogger RockDog said...

This was a great album that has withstood the tests of time! There's nothing better than classic VH!

7:19 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

A stunning album - still as fresh now as when I first heard it years ago. One of those albums that will always be listened to.

8:36 AM  
Blogger Hard Rock Hideout said...

This is one of those timeless classics that you can still listen to today and get plenty of enjoyment out of it.

From Eruption, Jamie's Cryin, Ain't Talkin About Love, and Ice Cream Man, this disc is one of many that have people so anxious for Diamond Dave to return to VH.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Bruce said...

Other than "Appetite for Destruction", I think this is the best rock debut album of the last 40 years.

12:26 PM  
Blogger David Amulet said...

Unbelievable album. It's hard to overstate it's quality or its influence.

-- david

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Ray Gillen, RIP said...

I agree with Bruce, I can't choose between this and Appetite in terms of being the best debut ever.

9:57 PM  
Blogger Aunt Jackie said...

Damn old Van Halen rocks!!! I was just watching a vid on YouTube earlier of "Unchained"... (sigh)

I am going to be sad that 70s week is over... :(

8:50 PM  
Blogger George Vader said...

This album rewrote the rule book on metal, incredible stuff, then they had the audacity to destroy the dinosaurs that were an ailing Black Sabbath live in the UK, GOD BLESS CLASSIC VAN HALEN!!

5:53 AM  
Blogger :P fuzzbox said...

It was simply an incredible album.

2:23 PM  
Blogger Earl Capps said...

i agree - the best debut album between led zep and guns and roses, and one of the best ever.

6:48 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home