Van Halen's debut album may seem like an obvious choice on a list of favorites. It has all every ingredient that makes for exciting rock and roll, a rocking rhythm section, the guitar hero to end all guitar heroes, the wildest front man in rock and, above all, some exceptional songs.
Van Halen was an instant classic, quickly selling over 6 million albums (having since passed 10 million) and laying the groundwork for hard rock in the 1980's. When I discovered Van Halen they had just released For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge with Sammy Hagar at the helm. "Right Now" was on constant rotation on MTV. My stepfather had just got a handful of cds and Van Halen was one of them. I quickly pilfered it and the record did not leave my stereo for months but I just couldn't understand why "Right Now" was such a lame song coming from such an awesome band.
You probably don't need to buy Van Halen at this point; just turn to any classic rock radio station and you will hear any of the essential songs from this record at least hourly. The record was made in a hurry and plays loud and furious with the energy of a live show, displaying every muscle this band could flex. Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony are a powerful rhythm section and David Lee Roth added just enough humor and cool to completely overshadow his vocal limits. Roth is the perfect lead singer for Van Halen.
Obviously, the main attraction is Eddie Van Halen's guitar. Wild and frenetic leads and mind blowing solos raised the bar for rock guitar to a level that no one has been able to reach. The guitar is such an essential element to the Van Halen mythos that they included "Eruption" on their first greatest hits disc and omitted "You Really Got ME", the actual song that the extended solo led in to.
Each song here is a gem. "Runnin' with the Devil", "Ain't Talking 'Bout Love", "I'm the One", "Jaime's Cryin'", "Atomic Punk", "On Fire", these songs speak for themselves.
In my high school when everyone was trying to find their identity, music was a huge factor. At least for me and my friends. Van Halen was agreed upon as essential for every kind of music fan. This is the iconic rock and roll that stabs you in the brain and will never let go, planting the bug that will make you want to start a band. There won't be another band like Van Halen, they were too weird but so undeniable.
TBT Van Halen
Share this article