Martin Popoff: Unchained: A Van Halen User Manual (2018)


(Isn’t it cool that the cover features two  members of the band not with the last name Van Halen!)

Martin Popoff needs no introduction if you’re a follower of this Blog. Martin in my estimation is one if not the best writer in terms of books featured on bands that don’t release their own stories that we  as music fans would like to read about.

Case in point. Martin in  the last couple of years has written two book by bands that I always dug but had little press on them back in the day. Sure Accept(Metal Heart:Aiming High With Accept) had stories plugging their new releases back in the mid to late 80’s but compared to other acts at the time Accept in North America had very little articles written about them. Riot(Swords and Tequila; Riots First Decade) had even less written about them so when Martin released the Riot book it was finally great to read about a band that I really dug but had no idea about as Martin pieced the Riot story together with interviews with band members and it gave great detail on the Riot story especially the late 70’s/early 80’s.

Accept as well. Really didn’t know that much about them so it was interesting to find out who Deaffy really was!

One band that myself and a lot of us know about is Van Halen and Martin has once again outdid himself telling the tale of  good ol California debauchery of Van Halen over 300 pages!

Basically here’s a summary of the book  from Martin’s site on Unchained: A Van Halen User Manual:

  • top 20 Alex moments
  • top keyboard songs
  • the album covers critiqued and ranked
  • analysis through the words of the band members on each album
  • Sammy very frankly on his relationship with the guys
  • lengthy analysis of the US Festival
  • Van Halen songs in movies and TV
  • origins of the songs on A Different Kind of Truth
  • covers by Van Halen in the club days as well as after the band’s signing
  • Frankenstrat
  • a history of tapping
  • Alex’s kits over the years
  • full timeline birth to the present
  • 20 connections to Montrose
  • top 20 covers of Van Halen
  • history of Dave solo with Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan
  • four-fold appendices presenting fan comments and poll results of songs, album, Eddie solos and most contentiously, Sam vs. Dave
  • top 20 rarities
  • sound effects and ear candy
  • the Sam and Dave tour
  • list of support acts
  • top tribute acts
  • the Hall of Fame fiasco
  • a look at the band’s gold and platinum certifications

It’s a great read. Martin in the Introduction of the book calls the Halen book “a grab bag of trivia” Tons of info stuff I didn’t even know about like the opening interview with Mark Kelley who gives a great Q&A with Martin in regards to the early beginnings  of Halen.


See the thing is Martin pieces together these books through his own interviews mostly and credits others when needed. No  made up Bullshit in his books I can tell ya that much.

All the era’s of  Van Halen/Van Hagar/Van Cherone are discussed in their entirety. Album by Album. Song by Song.  Even Roth’s solo albums are dissected especially ‘Eat Em And Smile’ and ‘Skyscraper‘.

This book once you pick up you cannot put back down its seriously that good! For instance  a few weeks back I was out for a few beers with my buddy Tbone (huge Halen fan as well) and told him about this book. Tbone ordered the book from Martins site right there on the spot in between gulps of Beer!

I can’t stress enough how important it is to support independent writers like Martin who take the time to tell the story of a favourite band if that band doesn’t choose not to do It themselves.

Speaking of Support here’s a link below if your interested  ordering this book or the other 75 or so Hard Rock Books Martin has written.. Check it out!

11 thoughts on “Martin Popoff: Unchained: A Van Halen User Manual (2018)”

  1. Thanks for reminding me about Martin releasing this tome! He is such a cool dude and is really keeping the flame burning for producing high-quality physical media! Though not every act he writes a giant book about is/are my “cup of tea”, lately he’s really been cranking out great stuff about bands I particularly care about (Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Van Halen) and that’s kept me clicking that PayPal button, getting those personally signed books shipped to me here in the USA! Martin is truly a one-of-a-kind and we are lucky to have him doing what he does!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No worries! Martin is a machine at cranking out these books! Someday I will have to do a Top 5 Popoff book list according to me! HAHA….
      This Halen book is a great read…so much info crammed in 300 pages.
      I’m really happy Martin did this book on Halen!


  2. Another crazy thing: unless I’m missing something, Martin has very little on-line footprint(s), other than Cool thing is, he has a way to reach the people that matter/care, via the good old e-mail blast!

    Liked by 1 person

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