Van Halen

Van Halen

Warner Brothers Records, 1978

REVIEW BY: Alfredo Narvaez


Lately, I've been listening more to this album. It's really funny how stuff that's been out for so long still catches your ear and tells you something. Granted I wasn't there, but from what I understand, this album made one hell of an entrance into the collective conscious of American youth when it came out back in 1978. The vocal stylings of David Roth (a.k.a. David Lee Roth), the tough rhythm section of bassist Mike Anthony and drummer Alex Van Halen and the thunder that was Eddie Van Halen are in full display right here and made people notice. I guess that's what busting your ass in small clubs for years will do to you.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The album begins with the tough "Runnin' With the Devil." I love Mike Anthony's bass line on this song. That intro is so cool. Next, you have the now-classic "Eruption" followed by their first hit, "You Really Got Me." Chances are when "Eruption" first played, you went "what the hell??!!" Yet now, it seems to have always been here.

One thing that strikes me is that there's a toughness inside this album. This isn't a pop album like they would do later on. I mean, "Runnin' With The Devil," "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love," "Atomic Punk" and "On Fire" are all mean, tough songs. (Cool effect notice: the intro to "Atomic Punk.") Even the more pop-ish songs are filled with that. "You Really Got Me," the cool "I'm The One" and "Little Dreamer" all have the mean underlying that I'm talking about. About the only songs that don't really have it are "Feel Your Love Tonight" and "Ice Cream Man."

Like I said before, this isn't an album that got hammered out for three years in a studio. This is stuff they were playing live for months and you can sense the urgency and toughness they imbue the album with. Kudos go to the rhythm section for adding that to the bottom. Plus, Dave's antics are still very much working with the songs -- notice, they never take away from the songs.

The band went on to make more accessible albums (I can't think of "Beautiful Girls" and not think Schmitts Gay), but here's their intro. You can feel and hear that this is a band that wasn't going to sit idle anymore or wait for a fad to sneak in. They kicked the doors off and demanded to be heard and hear we did. We still are.

Rating: A

User Rating: B+


30+ years later, this is a tough album to review. Musically, it's ballsy and ahead of its time, but I find some of DLR's vocal histrionics distracting and, at times, downright annoying. And I've never been a fan of Running With the Devil or Jamie's Crying, a better title of which might have been David's Whining. But when it's good, it's off-the-charts great.

© 1998 Alfredo Narvaez and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers Records, and is used for informational purposes only.