The year was 1978 and Hard Rock and Heavy Metal was about to change forever. That was the year Van Halen made their debut with their self titled LP. I have always admired Van Halen minus Sammy Hagar. I liked him better in Montrose.
Getting back to this album. This album featured the classic line up of David Lee Roth on vocals, Eddie Van Halen on guitar, Alex Van Halen on Drums and Michael Anthony on bass. This album has been voted several times of many a lists as a great debut to just a great album overall. Rightfully so!
When I first heard this album, believe it or not I think I heard this for the first time on 8-track. Yes, when I couldn’t afford cassettes or vinyl, I had to resort to 8-track since my stereo had one. It was during the mid 1980’s when I was just learning how to play the guitar. I heard the opening track to this album “Running with the Devil” and I was like cool! However, once I heard “Eruption” and “You Really Got Me”, a Kinks cover, I was blown away. Eddie Van Halen was who I wanted to be. His style was AMAZING!!! Well then, I listened to the rest of the album and I couldn’t get over the scales and licks he was playing. Yeah, I was into Heavy Metal, but Eddie Van Halen’s style was truly unique.
What I really liked about this album was the upbeat tempos and harmonizing choruses. It was full speed ahead with the song tempos. The album was bluesy, jazzy and had a few country influences. The intro to “Ice Cream Man” is a good example. It’s bluesy and yet has a country feel to it. After the intro, the music was just pure blues. Structurally, I like how all of the songs are laid out. The album has strong verses and amazing choruses. The entire album has wonderful melodies and harmonies. The backing vocals on the chorus is a great example of harmony.
David Lee Roth’s vocal work is amazing. It sounds as if he truly is having fun. Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing is amazing. He was doing things to the guitar that wasn’t even thought of at the time by other guitarists. He is one of the best guitarist and has been a huge influence for those future guitarists.The bass work by Michael Anthony clearly stands out. Alex Van Halen knows how to beat those drums. The musicianship is just great. Production wise the album sounds clear and sounds good. It’s almost as if Van Halen was a super group.
1. “Runnin’ with the Devil” 3:36
2. “Eruption” (instrumental) 1:42
3. “You Really Got Me” (Kinks Cover) 2:38
4. “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” 3:50
5. “I’m the One” 3:47
6. “Jamie’s Cryin'” 3:31
7. “Atomic Punk” 3:02
8. “Feel Your Love Tonight” 3:43
9. “Little Dreamer” 3:23
10. “Ice Cream Man” (John Brim) 3:20
11. “On Fire”