Impact Albums: Van Halen:Van Halen(1978)


Scored this album for $5! The vinyl is in real great shape considering that the front and back cover have seen a few parties! 

You know a ways back I reviewed the self titled debut album from Boston. In my review of that classic album I wrote how the hell do you review an album that is going to say anything different that already hasn’t been said about it?

The self titled debut fromVan Halen  is another one that I  could add to that list!

Everybody knows the deal with Eddie Van Halen as with this album his Guitar Playing revolutionized an industry that had never heard anything like his style! Innovator comes to mind for sure as how many debut albums have you ever heard where the second track is a Guitar Solo called ‘Eruption!’


Van Halen on the debut had the backing of a huge Record Company (Warner Brother Records). A big time record producer (Ted Templemen) and a  Lead Singer with an Ego as big as big as they come (David Lee Roth).

So armed with a Super Duper Guitarist/A Crazy or Charismatic Frontman(Take your pick) along with a cool batch of songs that over time(40 years now) have become Instant classics.  Van Halen hit the ground Running with the Devil so to speak!

If you want to read up on Van Halen check out two authors that have put out books on the early years of Halen. Author Greg Renoff(Van Halen:Rising) and Noel Monk(Runnin With The Devil) have both written books about Van Halen in the early years especially Renoff’s book which details VH playing backyard parties and bars!

When looking back at my listening curve with Van Halen its interesting to say the least!*

If you have been a follower of this blog my first encounter with Halen was in early 1981 when I first purchased  the Woman and Children First album which was a game changer in my world. Just a few months later out comes the Heavy Halen Album of the catalogue Fair Warning which I quickly picked up on its release. Less than a year later here comes the Lazy n Hazy but Brilliant Diver Down album!

In 1984 comes the mega selling 1984 record(which everyone bought) and finally in the summer of 1984 while  working my first job I finally got around to purchasing the self titled Van Halen album on cassette no less! Six years after its release!

Why did it take me so long to buy what is considered a classic?

Who knows…..Asleep at the wheel I suppose!

It must have been a mind blower back in 1978 if you dropped the needle on this  record for the first time and you hear that horn wailing which leads into Micheal Anthony and him pounding that Bass that drives right into ‘Running with the Devil’. This song weaves a huge sonic blast of epicness that sets the tone for the rest of the album!

It’s no secret that these guys were fine tuning and honing in their music chops as you go from track to track. VH’s cover of The Kink’s ‘You Really Got Me’ basically has Alex Van Halen attacking his drums like the late Keith Moon! That’s the one thing Halen was great at was making cover songs sound like their own. Case in point the Diver Down album which over time has become of my fav’s of the Dave era.  Another added coolness to the sound of Van Halen is none of their albums sound dated. Timeless quality to it! You can add Sleazy Dave  guaranteeing all his flavours during ‘Ice Cream Man’ and add that one to the list of Halen Covers that sound like Originals!

That party just continues with Guitar Heroics and Roth coming unhinged on tracks like Atomic Punk and I’m the One!  David Lee was certainly at the top of the rock ladder from 1978 to basically 1986 than even  Dave wheels started to come off as did his hair. Too bad though but he had an excellent run!

How about Ain’t Talking Bout Love!? Built around Ed and his opening riff this song just lifts off and launches into Ed dive bombing his Strat like it’s no ones business! Course you all know by the end of the song with the chant’s of ‘Hey/Hey/Hey’ and Alex wrapping it up all neat and tidy with his snazzy tight drums rolls at the end of the track! Frigg Ya!

These guys were smart to as they could take the gas off the pedal and smash out some radio rock in the form of ‘Jamie’s Cryin’ How about a huge shout out to Micheal Anthony’s backing vocals that always were a huge part of the “Sound’.

But the brilliance for me in this album was Van Halen was on the up an up on this record! It was after when it came out that the real success came as Van Halen not only demolished Hotel Rooms but  as well as demolishing Headlining Acts that Halen opened for in 1978. Journey and Black Sabbath two acts that were caught in the cross hairs! Even Ozzy has admitted  that Sabbath were blown off every night by the young whipper snappers known as VH!

Total impact album from start to finish! In my world this may be the Ultimate Debut Ever!

*- Speaking of interesting. You kind of wonder why the Halen Bro’s allowed Warner Brothers to pick that picture of Roth (only) for the Back Cover where he’s twisting his body like it’s a flippin Pretzel! Considering all the bad blood between them basically from the start why on earth would Ed and Alex let Roth get the whole back cover to himself?



24 thoughts on “Impact Albums: Van Halen:Van Halen(1978)”

  1. Ain’t Talkin About Love is the one that gets me going.

    I know someone who saw them supporting Sabbath in 1978, said it is still one of the very best performances he has ever seen. Said it was like seeing the future.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Love, Love, Love this album. You are right about it not sounding dated. It still sounds like it would fit in well even with today’s music. Utterly timeless. And to think, this was a DEBUT album. Not many bands today or even back than had such an amazing debut. Def Lep’s was no where near this good.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Your right not any bands came come roaring out with a classic.
      Halen you could make the argument that all 6 Roth albums are great and any of them could have made a solid debut!
      Diver Down with the Original Written tracks would make a solid EP of its own. Actually with the Halen Roth albums clocking in at 30 minutes they are basically E.P’s hahaha

      Liked by 3 people

    1. He certainly did Geoff. Form about 78-86 Dave was one of the best frontman around. Course there was no you tube back than so it was all magazine interviews that added to his craziness. Creem Magazine ate up Roth’s Schtick big time. He knew They knew it and I bought it!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m with you all the way on this. You know this one had an impact on me, even though the album had been out a few years! (I got into it, what, 4 years ago?). Easily one of my favourite bands. Roth-era. Amazing stuff.

    The only negative is the mix. I dunno if it’s just mine, but the guitar is all out one speaker. But the songs are so good and I love hearing Roth and Eddie sparring. They were a great team.

    Anyhoo, easily one of the best rock records ever recorded. Amazing stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thinking they went for the live sound on how they rolled live right into the studio! The Guitar is on one side of the speaker! Suppose thats how they wanted it..I would think ..haha

      Liked by 2 people

      1. All in the left (mostly). Only thing that could have been improved, I reckon (I read something somewhere sometime that it was Templeman’s idea and Eddie wasn’t keen?). Regardless, the album is a stone cold classic!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I guess its true that a picture can tell a million stories or in this case the album cover..haha
      If you ever get a chance to read Noel Monks book do it..
      VH by all accounts tortured Journey nightly…haha

      Liked by 2 people

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