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The Essential Series - 2017 US Hard Rock (Volume 1) by Dtabachn
The early days of American Hard Rock produced some classic LP's. Here's ten of the best as cherry-picked by Dave Tabachnik. And it's only Volume 1, with more to come..

Van Halen - 1978 Van Halen
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..

Van Halen - 1979 Van Halen II
Considering all the recent hype about the reunited Van Halen during 2007 (minus Mike Anthony), and also that we have a bunch of reviews already, VHII seems to be the missing joker in the pack.

Van Halen - 1980 Women And Children First
Much like 1981's 'Fair Warning', 'Women And Children First' is a piece of classic US hard rock that seems to have been swept under the carpet a bit.

Van Halen - 1981 Fair Warning
'Fair Warning' was VH's fourth album in as many years, and their most complex work yet. With an array of different styles employed, it is to these ears the embodiment of hard rock/metal perfection, another blueprint for rising US bands of the genre to follow in the 80's.

Van Halen - 1982 Diver Down
Many fans felt this resulted in too much filler and not enough original material, with the later one only really rising to former Van Halen standards, that's not true IMO. It's one of Van Halen's best records, one that is a true testament to the spirit of the world's best bar band.

Van Halen - 1984 1984
'1984' returned Van Halen back to the top of the heap, with hit singles released at will and ending up selling ten million copies and counting. It ranks as one of the 80's most enduring classic albums and indicated the band was only just beginning.

Van Halen - 1986 5150
When Van Halen picked up Sammy Hagar to replace David Lee Roth in 1985, some felt the decision was a poor one. Many felt Hagar was a journeyman rocker without Roth's flash or charisma and things would fall flat. Hagar was in fact an inspired choice, his past with Montrose and as a solo artist was beyond reproach..

Van Halen - 1988 OU812
When Van Halen fans sit down and dissect the discography of their favourite band, you can guarantee that their 1988 album 'OU812' will come in for some ribbing.

Van Halen - 1991 For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
The album went triple platinum, proving that Van Halen could still deliver the goods. Even with grunge starting its assault on the rock world shortly after this release, this album was still a huge success.

Van Halen - 1995 Balance
The album was another number one for the band and went triple platinum, astounding figures for a veteran hard rock band in 1995. With so many established bands flopping and breaking up, it proved the enduring appeal of Van Halen.

Van Halen - 1998 III
There's no doubt this is the worst Van Halen album of all, a bloated and misguided attempt to somehow reinvent themselves as a serious rock group, with few references to the past.

Van Halen - 2012 A Different Kind Of Truth
Somehow I think at the end of 2012 this will be well up there as one of the year's best. This makes rock sound essential again.

Van Halen - 2015 Tokyo Dome Live in Concert
With 25 tracks (one being a drum solo) there's certainly value for your money here. Naturally it's all Roth era material, with only three tracks from the '.. Truth' album unfortunately. I'm sure purists would have favored an archive live set from Roth's first stint in the band, one with Michael Anthony among the ranks anyway. This is the best you'll get though and for all the criticism of Roth's live performances they've managed to make him and the band sound reasonably good here.