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4.28 | 96 ratings | 10 reviews
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Album · 1978

Filed under Hard Rock


1. Runnin' With The Devil (3:35)
2. Eruption (1:42)
3. You Really Got Me (2:38)
4. Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love (3:49)
5. I'm The One (3:46)
6. Jamie's Cryin' (3:30)
7. Atomic Punk (3:01)
8. Feel Your Love Tonight (3:42)
9. Little Dreamer (3:23)
10. Ice Cream Man (3:20)
11. On Fire (3:00)

Total Time 35:32


- David Lee Roth / vocals, acoustic guitar
- Eddie Van Halen / guitar, backing vocals
- Michael Anthony / bass, backing vocals
- Alex Van Halen / drums

About this release

Released by Warner.

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Vim Fuego
The Salvation Army and two bucks led me to a revelation, and a deeper understanding of the wider world around me.

No, I haven’t abandoned a lifelong lack of belief to worship any sort of supernatural being, deity, cult leader, or graven image. Instead, I finally understand something which had hitherto been a mystery to me. Why did a certain sector of the rock community always heap such praise on Van Halen?

My first experiences with Van Halen were with the stadium schlock rock of the ever-dreadful “Jump” and the misogynistic teen wankfest of “Hot For Teacher”. So far, so mediocre. A bit later, I encountered the stomping “Runnin’ With The Devil”. This was more like it. It fuckin’ hard rocking, if not quite metal, but no matter. To this day it remains my favourite Van Halen song. And then there was the cover of The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me”, which is in take-it-or-leave-it territory.

So where do the Sallies and two bucks come into it? I’m all for good works for the community, regardless of religious affiliation, and so I support the Salvation Army by donating unwanted stuff there so that someone needier than me may get some sort of use out of it, and the Sallies might make a few bucks too. I buy stuff there too, often not out of need, but just because it’s there, and hey, it’s cheap! On one expedition, I was perusing the CD racks. You’re more likely to find Daniel O’Donnell than Dani Filth in these racks, so I wasn’t expecting much. I found a pristine copy of “Van Halen” by Van Halen, and the price was two dollars, so I thought “fuck it, why not?”, and then thought “is it blasphemous to think the word ‘fuck’ in a Sallies shop?”. This was followed by the thought “you don’t believe in God, so therefore, you don’t believe in blasphemy, and you haven’t been struck down by lightning yet, so it’s probably OK.” By the time I got to the counter with my purchases, I had resolved the internalised theological dilemma, and the lady at the counter was more than happy to take my money.

And now for the revelation. Finally, a few days later, I had the opportunity to finally listen to this album.

Fuck. Me. Sideways.

I’ve waited over 40 years to finally hear this album in it’s entirety, and now I get it. Now I get why guitarists rave over Eddie’s technique. Now I get why the Diamond Dave vs. Sammy Hagar debate is important. Now I get why 80s glam metal sounded the way it did – those bands were chasing the dragon, and here’s that addictive high they were after.

It probably helps that the first track is “Runnin’ With The Devil” (good thing the ladies in the Salvation Army shop didn’t see that song title!) What’s the best thing about it? Eddie Van Halen’s fluid, classy soloing? His crunching main riff? David Lee Roth’s soaring vocals? Nope. It’s Michael Anthony’s thudding, hypnotic bass line, which ties in perfectly with Alex Van Halen’s straightforward, solid drums. Michael and Alex are often forgotten in this band, but remember, no Michael and Alex, no foundation for Eddie and Dave to show off.

And then “Eruption”. This is the track which caused so much consternation among budding guitar heroes the world over. Hell, even some pros were stumped by it. One of the Schenkers (jokingly) threatened Eddie Van Halen with physical violence if he didn’t show him how he played this less than two minute interlude. It squeals, shreds, soars, trills, and leaves your jaw lying on the floor. This is absolute mastery of your instrument. And unlike so many other shredding interludes, it’s actually fun to listen to, and doesn’t just reek of fretboard masturbation. And then the cover of The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me”? Take it or leave it? I’m fuckin’ taking it this time! The new leads Eddie added to what’s a fairly basic song set it off. It makes more sense in the context of this album than on it’s own.

“Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” shows off a quality not often noted when talking about Van Halen – it’s got a strong metal riff to it. Eddie’s solos are what people remember, but the main riff, underpinned by Michael’s driving bass, makes what might ordinarily be a fairly tepid love song into a hard rock masterclass.

And so proceeds the rest of the album. “I’m The One” has a rocking boogie rhythm to it. Eddie’s guitar almost talks on “Jamie’s Crying”. “Atomic Punk” isn’t punk, but it’s got an overdriven gallop to it, like a rocking Judas Priest track. A couple of things haven’t aged well. It was a different time, but “Feel Your Love Tonight” is a bit date-rapey. Unfortunately, this lame duck track seems to be the one most emulated by the 80s hairspray and heels brigade.

The bluesy swagger of “Little Dreamer” pulls things back from the brink. Diamond Dave shines on this track, showing a soulful side to his voice. For all his narcissism and other faults, the guy could fucking sing!

“Ice Cream Man” is a second blues tinged song, with a double entendre laden acoustic intro. Just when it seems the whole song is going to be just guitar and voice, the rest of the band, and the amps kick in, and it turns into an old time rock and roller. Eddie shreds and shreds and shreds, while Dave wails and Elvises it up a bit.

“On Fire” closes the album with another driving rocker of a song, once again ending up somewhere near Judas Priest territory. There were multiple facets to Van Halen shown on this highly impressive debut. The band eventually followed their more mainstream commercial leanings, but there was enough hard and heavy material here to keep the headbangers interested. And that guitar playing… Many people have wanted to play like Eddie Van Halen, but no one else quite cuts it. Every listen reveals another fill, solo, or lead which you missed before. There are hidden depths and details to what seem superficially simple compositions.

All in all, this was two bucks well spent.
Eeeeh... fine, okay, if you want a showcase for what was at the time cutting-edge guitar playing and is now a classic technique which set the bar for hard rock going forwards, then yes, the self-titled debut from Van Halen is pretty good as far as that goes. But whilst Eddie Van Halen certainly gets to show off his chops a lot, as a whole the songs found here leave me kind of cold. Take, for instance, the cover of You Really Got Me by The Kinks, which is kind of blown out of the water by the original. Perhaps the issue is that the album puts Eddie so far at front and centre that everyone else is eclipsed - with the result that you end up with one really epochal performance from Eddie and a more lukewarm outing from the rest of the band, which adds up to three star "eh, it's alright I guess"-ness.
Best debut by a metal band in history. You be the judge. with brilliant riffing and amazing vocals one can never be disappointed.

Runnin' With the Devil has to be one of the all time greatest rockers and Eddie is incredible throughout.

Eruption is the lead solo that changed metal forever. The high speed hammer ons and pull offs along with trilling fast picking are legendary and ripped off by all metal lead guitarists. A timeless masterpiece.

You Really Got Me is better than the original with dangerous vocal technique and scorching lead work.

The brilliant riffs never stop; Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love is a killer track, and Jamie's Cryin' is infamous.

Atomic Punk is one of the heaviest with scratchy guitars and wild drumming. One of the greatest B sides too with the single You really Got me.

An amazing metal feast that launched the metal icons of the 70s and 80s. Many careers were made and cemented indelibly in the industry with this one album; it is a rare thing, and genuine lightning in a bottle.
VH are one of my favorite bands from my youth, when I thought that 1984 was the greatest thing since sliced bread and worked my way through their back catalogue. OU812 has the co-distinction of being the first compact disc that I ever owned. Their debut consists of their awesome original hit songs Runnin' With The Devil, Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love, and Jamie's Crying along with what is arguably the most successful cover song ever done with You Really Got Me. The second song Eruption is of course an Eddie Van Halen instrumental classic that is one of the blue prints for all shredders to follow. Also, can't forget Feel Your Love Tonight and Little Dreamer. Alex and Eddie Van Halen were annually listed among the best rock guitarist and best rock drummer year in and year out during the 70's and 80's. Michael Anthony may not be the best bass player, but he was certainly a very good bassist. And of course, everybody has an opinion of love or hate with one of the best known frontmen in the business David Lee Roth. Van Halen might be the only band that provides more debate than Genesis over which vocalist do you prefer: David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar. Not to mention that both bands most recent albums were released with third vocalists, that although had decent enough music, it caused their legions of fans to turn on them and cause these albums to be remembered only as forgettable.
I first heard this in 1979 and i honestly had never heard the guitar played like this before.For me this is the Eddie Van Halen show as he takes the spotlight on every single track.I have this magazine interview with DOKKEN's George Lynch and he talks about seeing Eddie when he was just starting out and he talked about Eddie's fire and tone and how he was embarrassed for himself and he went home and stayed up all night practising.Man this album "sounds" so good too.Of course there's this guy named David Lee Roth the flamboyant lead singer who can't be ignored.A great voice with those frequent yells throughout all added to the appeal.I love that these guys never took themselves too seriously,i mean just about every album had one silly song on it.I love every track on here,there are no fillers.Tough to pick a fav though although "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" might be it.So serious and heavy and the lyrics are killer.And i also like how the albums back in my day were usually under 40 minutes.This one is under 36 minutes.Back to Eddie.This is an article i still have as he talks about "Eruption" a track that spawned a generation of shredders."What got me was back in the early seventies when LED ZEPPELIN was still together,Jimmy Page was doing his "Heartbreaker" solo,and he'd stand by his amps and he'd have his right hand in the air and do pull-offs with his left hand.I thought,"What happens if you move the nut?" I put my right hand over my left and used it as a movable capo.Then i said,"What if i move my finger to the other side of the fretted note?" That's where i came up with the idea.Then i started adding harmonics to it,because harmonics are all relative too.If you can hit it open,you can move it up and play 12 frets away or five or seven frets away.It's math.I didn't know it it was mathematical.I thought it was magic: "Wow it only works in E" No,it doesn't.You can move everything and it's all relative.The first time i actually did full harmonics was on "Van Halen II",on "Woman In Love".The whole intro sounds like clocks,because i tapped them all". This is one of those albums i played to death in the early eighties and there's no way it's less than 5 stars.
Selling over 10 million copies in the US alone, Van Halen's first album was cited as one of the most successful debut ever made. Eddie introduced a revolutionary guitar playing through the blinding and almost impossible shred on "Eruption". Though many stated that tapping technique was first developed by Steve Hackett, it's Eddie Van Halen that opened the world's eyes with his breakthrough invention and heavy metal had never been the same ever since.

The first half is ultimately strong while the second half is a bit bumpy and with couple of decent tracks, it's generally weaker but still doesn't reduce much value of the album. My favorite parts are the immense slowtempo hit of "Runnin' With The Devil", the frenzy tapping of "Eruption", the dancy Kinks cover of "You Really Got Me" , the punchy tune of "Ain't Talkin' Bout Love", the underrated "I'm The One" with Eddie's insane solos, and "Ice Cream Man" which is highly entertaining, and again, the thrilling solos steal the show.

David Lee Roth's place is also as important as Eddie himself, with his flamboyant persona and volcanic charm, they conquered the arenas and garnered million followers. For fans of hard rock, glam, and traditional heavy metal, this is an indispensable and highly influential release that later spawned many great axemen and albums, and after more than 30 years, it just never gets old. Van Halen's first step to the scene quickly propelled them to the height of sweet success and with this monstrous attempt, they definitely deserved it.
There Can Be Only One

Heavy metal is first and foremost about the electric guitar. And though rock has had numerous superheroes on its signature instrument, there is a clear pick for top dog. That would be Edward Van Halen. No one has launched more picks other than maybe Elvis or the Beatles, and that's clearly another game entirely.

Van Halen I contains the electric guitar Declaration of Omnipotence - "Eruption." This alone would hold the album in immortality as this short piece is the definition of metal guitar. The ending tapping cadenza is perhaps the most recognizable piece of shred ever recorded. With that song, virtually every piece of guitar virtuosity seemed simple and stiff. It is the defining piece for the instrument.

Of course, the band also contained glam's quintessential front man as well. David Lee Roth's squeals and antics would define the sound of the 80's as much as Eddie's guitar. Alex Van Halen was a great rock drummer. And Michael Anthony, well he liked his Jack Daniels.

The first album has some great songs, classics ranging from the opener "Runnin' with the Devil" to the underappreciated "I'm the One." "Ice Cream Man" simplifies the already single entendre Tom Waits take on and old theme but to delightful sound. "Jamie's Cryin'" trademark pinch harmonic would fuel an entire hit by itself for Rap Artist Tone Loc.

Bottom Line: Landmark album whose sound dominated music for nearly 15 years.

Members reviews

I bought this album some years ago because I heard Eruption which blew me away – a powerfully influential piece of shredding. Eddie doesn’t hog the limelight on the rest of the album, but his riffs on the other tracks are no less influential. His brother Alex’s drumming is formidable too. Vocals don’t get much more colourful and vibrant than those of David Lee Roth. Last but not least I have to mention Michael Anthony’s bass. This album is the perfect example of a bass player doing his hard rock job. It was the bass on the You Really Got Me cover that I listened to and played along with before performing the same in my local pub jam sessions.
1967/ 1976
Van Halen is sure one of my all time preferred bands and "Van Halen" is sure one of my all time preferred albums. This mix of R'n'R, Hard Rock and Blues is incredible now as 32 years ago. This because "Van Halen" today is better than in 1978 ( Honestly even I am better than that 1978, the year in which I was born). Today, in this moment, my heart aches for a girl who, not everything went well in his life but I discovered that I love just now started my second experience working farm where she works. Unfortunately I have to wait mid-September to declare my love ... And having to do all day with this girl is difficult. But "Van Halen" save me!

Basically "Van Halen" is a Rock album with Punk attitude, sure. And in my view Van Halen plays as a possible Kinks' evolution (that "You Really Got me" is a Kinks song is only a case). I love songs as "Runnin' With The Devil", "You Really Got Me", "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love", "James Cryin'", "Feel Your Love Tonight" or "Little Dreamer" send a positive charge as a few other songs manage to convey to me. Sincerely, "Van Halen" in my head does not sound like revolutionary or historical album, but only as an excellent debut album. "Eruption", of course, is a masterpiece of guitar technique but ... I'll be honest ... What I find magic in "Van Halen"? Perhaps the only certainty you have in your hands an album that I've always liked. Since I was born.

On that day in mid-September, I'll give this CD to Michela, along with red roses.
Bomb Brigade
Simply put,the quintessential album for any fan of hard rock to own.This album,inandofiteself,defines everything that is great about this type of music:extreme raw energy,screaming guitar licks,insane hooks for days,and oodles of charisma as only David Lee Roth can present it! Upon it's release in 1978,this album singlehandedly redefined what it meant to be a hard rock band.David Lee redifined the role of the frontman in music and Edward Van Halen actually reinvented the tone of rock guitar,as Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck had done years earlier. Nothing in our lifetimes may ever again come close to the sheer bombastic magnitude of AIN'T TALKIN''BOUT LOVE,ON FIRE,ERUPTION,or ATOMIC PUNK.The insane genius of these songs encapsulated exactly what it meant to kick ass from one shore to another,from sea to shining sea...Not to even mention the band's brilliant take on The Kinks' tired standard YOU REALLY GOT ME,reviving the classic and infusing it with a crazy new life,just as Dr.Frankenstein had done with his monstrous creation.And,not to forget,Roth's retooling of the John Brim selection ICE CREAM MAN,turning a backwoods ditty into a rebel rousing anthem as only DLR could! From start to finish,the greatest selection of songs ever assembled onto one disc;the perfect hard rock album for this and every generation!

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