Thursday, November 6, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Van Halen, by Van Halen

In 1978, a band from Pasadena, California appeared on the mainstream rock scene that would change how people make rock and metal forever and would inspire an entire generation of shredders. This was a band known as Van Halen. Guitarist Eddie Van Halen's guitar techniques (primarily his tapping) while not entirely original at the time were still brought to a whole other level by him. At that time no one had ever heard anything quite like it and were quite rightfully stunned by his astounding chops.

On February 10, 1978 Van Halen put out their self-titled debut album Van Halen. Though its initial reception was quite negative, it quickly shot up to number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. After all, since when do critics ever know a thing? It contains many of the band's most notable tracks, such as: Runnin' With the Devil, Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love, Eruption, and their cover of You Really Got Me, by The Kinks amongst others. Although many of their hit singles would come later on, this is the one album that Van Halen fans always gravitate toward.

Eruption is the one track that blew people's minds more than anything else from Van Halen. It's only a couple of minutes long and just guitar with a bit of drums for accentuation, but it is one of the single most iconic guitar pieces in history. No one had ever heard anything like it. My dad told me that when he first heard it he thought it was just a synthesizer because a guitar couldn't possibly make those kinds of sounds. It is some of the quickest most melodic tapping anyone has ever done. Many shredders of the 80's and beyond would come to use this song as a learning piece to get their start from.

Runnin' With the Devil is a fun song to crank at top volume. The odd synth-like sound at the beginning was actually horns were of the band’s cars mounted in a box and powered by two car batteries with a foot switch. Their producer Ted Templeman lowed the horns down before adding them to the track. The track itself is very bass heavy. After the car horn intro, bassist Michael Anthony comes in with this fat bass line that sounds almost like Godzilla is stomping through a city. The guitar riffs sound nearly heavy metal-like in nature, but still have a very prevalent pop rock kind of vibe to the overall tone. It features some of Eddie's more melodic solos in between certain parts of the song.

Van Halen really does not have a single bad track on it. Even the songs that are not Van Halen's big hits still have catchy vocal hooks and blistering guitar solos. It is one of those albums that can be appreciated by both musicians and non-musicians alike because it features something for everybody at some point or another. In a way, Van Halen is the definition of energetic and youthfulness. Just by putting this album on you can feel like you're back in high school with your car windows rolled down, the stereo cranked, and blasting down the highway.

Van Halen, by Van Halen receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Runnin' With the Devil
2. Eruption
3. You Really Got Me
4. Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love
5. I'm the One
6. Jamie's Cryin'
7. Atomic Punk
8. Feel Your Love Tonight
9. Little Dreamer
10. Ice Cream Man
11. On Fire

Buy the album on Amazon:

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