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Articles Home » 1978 Articles » Van Halen - 1978 Van Halen
Van Halen - 1978 Van Halen

ARTIST: Van Halen
ALBUM: Van Halen
LABEL: Warner Bros
YEAR: 1978
CD REISSUE: 1990, Warner Bros, 3075-2


LINEUP: David Lee Roth - vocals * Eddie Van Halen - guitar * Michael Anthony - bass * Alex Van Halen - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Runnin' With The Devil * 02 Eruption * 03 You Really Got Me * 04 Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love * 05 I'm The One * 06 Jamie's Cryin' * 07 Atomic Punk * 08 Feel Your Love Tonight * 09 Little Dreamer * 10 Ice Cream Man * 11 On Fire


How ironic. To futher add completeness to all the Van Halen albums reviewed on this site, we have to go all the way back to this magnificent 1978 debut. It is the only jewel not yet reviewed, and we feel a bit silly not having covered it earlier. All the writing staff (myself included) have spoken and navigated all around this album in other articles, but none of us committed pen to paper - until now. Where does one start when discussing one of the genre defining albums of the 70's, if of all time! Do I need to go into great detail outlining their history prior to this 1978 success? We will.. but only briefly. From Pasadena, Los Angeles, VH started life off as the band Mammoth back in 1974. The band eventually changed names and had a demo produced by Gene Simmons which suggested that Casablanca Records were in the hunt. Not so, the quartet signed with Warner Bros and went into the studio during the fall of 1977. WB's in house producer Ted Templeman, created a production which was notable for the split stereo approach, placing Eddie's rhythm guitar into the left side of the mix, with solos placed in the right alongside Mike Anthony's bass, though some do appear in the left-space as well. It seemed unusual at the time, and was continued on further albums, not just here. Released in February 1978, the album would achieve gold status three months later (May 78), and eventually go platinum five months later (Oct 78). The album would go on to sell over 10 million units, and their first tour would be as support for Journey.. an interesting combination, and a tour I would have loved to have seen and been part of. Onto the record..

The Songs
'Running With The Devil' opens the album cautiously. Diamond Dave and Eddie prowl across the soundscape with a slower tempo, but things get heated by solo time.

'Eruption' was the instrumental solo that created a whole new generation of guitarists across the world, the tapping and divebombing techniques would make its way into the arsenal of budding rock guitarists right up until this day, and would redefine the role of lead guitar forever.

The Kinks cover 'You Really Got Me' is without doubt the best version of this song outside of the original, even if it is markedly different. I wonder what the Davies brothers thought of it all when they heard it? lol! The Diamond Dave squeals, grunts and groans is the other highlight of the song!

'Ain't Talkin' About Love' is an anthem that only a guy like David Lee Roth can pull off. It sounded great back in 1978 and still does today. The solo's are spread between the left and right mix, the middle section slows to a near halt before the energized chorus and gang vocals take us out to the finish.

The party flavour that this band is so famous for is exemplified by the fun-a-minute romp of 'I'm The One'. Mike Anthony drives this track with his fluid bass lines giving EVH the room to do his solo stuff.

The commercial near AOR of 'Jamie's Cryin' is the most melodic effort here, the rich harmony vocals of Mike Anthony in particular makes this track a popular choice for repeat play on my CD player.

Then again, I love the unrestrained power of 'Atomic Punk' just as much, Eddie gets to stretch out a little more here, the scratch and rasp intro plus the guitar solos are off the scale! Turned up loud, the mix sounds a bit unbalanced to my ears, but at least you can hear Mike Anthony's bass lines with the utmost clarity in the right channel. Let's not forget Diamond Dave's awesome vocal, which borders on demonic!

Cooling down somewhat after that previous monster effort is 'Feel Your Love Tonight'. This is another party anthem where boy meets girl, they ride around in the backseat of the car with the radio switched on to the local rock station. You know the deal.. lol!

VH venture into a little bluesy swagger with 'Little Dreamer', that is until Eddie tips it upside down with some sonic six string antics.

Ice creams are always a great proposition, and when Diamond Dave convinces you that he's the 'Ice Cream Man' of your dreams you better run for the hills! This is a fantastic fun track, and a great live belter for the band with DD's sing-a-long banter ideal for a great rapport with the audience. The Elvis like outtro by Dave is a hoot!

To finish up this monumental recording, is the hard rockin' attack of 'On Fire'. Everything is bought together for a climactic end, with the warped chorus and backing vocals sounding like some of those early Uriah Heep albums.

In Summary
Though this album was released thirty years ago last February, it still stands the test of time. It is an often played album in my household, and it still holds a special place in my life, in much the same way as a set of photographs from a certain time and place can record one's life at that instant in time. When I look back at the bands we've reviewed in the 1978 articles category, many of them pale into insignificance and sound truly and utterly dated now when compared to Van Halen's debut - perhaps with the exception of Boston's 'Don't Look Back' and Journey's 'Infinity'. As time would show, this album has since joined the top echelon of debut efforts within the hard rock industry, selling millions and being rated right up there as one of the defining moments of the genre. That, I am sure, is not even up for question..

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#1 | Eric on May 27 2008 12:29:58
A devastating record. I still remember hearing 'Eruption/ You Really Got Me' (radio programmers were playing both songs together) for the first time and couldn't believe what I was listening to- music from another planet.
#2 | reyno-roxx on May 27 2008 15:56:04
Still gives me chills listening to those opening moments of 'Runnin' With The Devil'!
I remember reading an interview Eddie Van Halen did with a Sounds spin-off guitar hero mag pre-Kerrang! days in which he stated that he'd played the VH cover of 'You Really Got Me' to a member or two of Angel. Eddie claims that the next thing he heard was that Angel had recorded their own version of the song and tried to beat VH into putting it out first. Eddie learnt never to play anyone anything up front like that again.
I've no idea what happened with the Angel version...will have to ask Frank...but it certainly wasn't found in the PolyGram vaults when a search was made for unreleased material for the 'Anthology' CD.
By the way, I have the Simmons produced VH demo somewhere. Not quite as awesome as the record, but the songs still kick some mighty butt.
#3 | dangerzone on May 28 2008 02:19:23
I don't think there were too many late 70's albums that sounded as polished as this. 30 years later it could still pass for anything recorded today. This blows away any Punk bullshit that was supposedly cutting edge in the same era. Priest's 'Stained Class' is on the same wavelength in terms of studio excellence. Still I'd take 'Women and Children First' and 'Fair Warning' over the debut.
#4 | david on May 28 2008 03:49:55
Saw them play at the Finsbury Park Rainbow, roughly when this was released. What a show. Did anyone see them support Sabbath at the Lewisham Odeon. I think DLR told Lewisham that it was the RNR capital of the world LOL.
#5 | richardb on May 28 2008 08:31:44
Yes, one of my friends was lucky enough to be at that gig (unfortunately I wasn't!) - he still reminds me of this fact even to this day.

Richard B
#6 | sabace on May 28 2008 15:58:57
got this lp in 78 when it came out, turned on to it with a review in sounds (deaf barton ?). light years ahead of its time! and the recently released remaster is even better! I have the original simmons demo and it is superb!
#7 | rostoned on May 28 2008 18:55:31
it's fair to remember that 5 years earlier the blueprint for this was released on the same label (Warner), same producer (Templeman), same 'surname of the guitarist names the band' (Ronnie Montrose - Eddie Van Halen), same deflagrating impact, same all time classic...
#8 | jefflynnefan on May 29 2008 03:49:28
Definitely a must have cd. I have the DCC gold version that I would recommend to anybody. Listen to it with headphones! I saw VH as a backup band for Black Sabbath in the state where I live for six dollars in 1978. My friends and I had the album/we knew they were going to be big. The headlines the next day read 'Van Halen kidnaps Black Sabbath's crowd'. This was the Never Say Die tour.
#9 | YNGWIEVIKING on June 15 2008 11:28:25
In my top 10 forever! CLASSIC among the classics!
agree with jefflynnefan about the outstanding DCC versionmusic
I was too young back then to see any shows but i still remember the first time i listen to this it was summer 1979 what a shock!yummymusiclolGrin
#10 | DEMONAOR on July 08 2008 18:06:45
Great album,Great Bandgunsgunsgunsgunsgunsguns
#11 | jeffrey343 on March 03 2014 20:34:54
This album was part of my baptism into the world of rock when I was 15 (took me long enough). So I was about 3.5 years late to the party with this one. But of course it became an essential album for me, every song a classic. 'Fair Warning' was already out by the time I finally heard the debut, but I never have really gotten into albums 2 - 4 from VH as much. By 'Diver Down', I was getting the albums real-time. Nothing to me, though, can touch this album for sheer awesomeness.
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