Artist: Van Halen
Title: “The Best Of Van Halen” Volume 1
Label: Warner Brothers Music
Release Date: 10/22/1996
Genre: Hard Rock
Musically speaking, Van Halen is probably number two in my list of three favorite Hard Rock and Heavy Metal band and finds themselves bookended by KISS and Judas Priest. That being said, I decided to toss out some thoughts on the bands first ever compilation release which hit the markets way back in 1996. It might surprise some of the newer fans of the bands work that this compilation was something like 20 years in the making and not only spanned about eight of their releases. With this being the case the argument about why this was not a double disc collection was something that definitely came up in conversation. As a collection I felt this was “okay at best” even though it featured a number of my favorite tunes and the reason I make a statement like that is based on it being a sole CD. Too many powerful moments in the bands history are avoided and instead the release comes off as a step-by-step walk through the bands history until the listener reached where we were at the time this was released. We start off with “Eruption” and the tune does NOT lead us into “You Really Got Me” which was the song that made everyone an instant fan of Van Halen even though it was originally penned by The Kinks. I know it was my own introduction to the band and the day after I heard it, I walked the two miles to the local record store to buy a copy of this on vinyl. I’m sure I am not alone here. So we end up with three tunes from the debut which is an album that does no wrong at all and only the “single” from “Van Halen II” with “Dance The Night Away”. The same applies for “WACF” with “And The Cradle Will Rock”. I liked so much more from this album and was sad to find all the rest omitted but again, one CD means limited time to get the point across. The radio classics are paid attention to for the most part from here on out from the Roth era and then we wander into the Sammy Hagar territory which would historically get a lot more mainstream support than most of the early stuff did. I liked some of what Sammy brought to the table in the band but I would have traded him away in a second if Roth could come back.
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Author: Neil Zlozower
Title: “Van Halen: A Visual History 1978-1984”
Label: Chronicle Books
Release Date: 11/12/2007
Genre: Photographic History
If you have ever followed the fascinating history of the mighty Van Halen and remember their most classic photos from the bygone days when Rock & Metal magazines ruled the Earth then you will most likely also recall the name of the photographer who was behind most of them. That man is Neil Zlozower for those who are for whatever reason scratching their heads and he started shooting the band when they first came into the larger public eye at its beginning. His photo retrospective of their history spans those classic years from 1978-1984 and hence focuses only on the David Lee Roth era and does not feature anything with Sammy Hagar who took Roth’s place not long after that famous year. The visual history is almost a play by play of the band as they hit the studio, photo shoots, and live performances and it follows them from their self-titled debut up until their last album together which was “1984”. It’s a seven year span of time in which we get to enjoy the band during their beginnings as a group that seemed loaded with promise to the eventual juggernaut and musical force of nature that they became over the years and successfully seemed able to maintain in both music and image. This was a band full of Rock Stars and the images on these pages speak volumes about how they did it and how much fun it was to be a part of their world and a fan of what they do. As I glanced through the book I found myself going back in time to when I rushed to the corner newsstand to snare the latest copy of magazines like Creem and Hit Parader to see what world that they would take me to and without aging myself, I clearly remember seeing many of the images now in this book when they were originally new shots of the band. For me as a fan of Hard Rock and Metal, Van Halen is in my top three bands and I believe I have kept them as the second only to KISS in my worship of the greats for decades. Of course being second in my own list didn’t seem to affect my diehard admiration for Van Halen and if they were featured anywhere in those aforementioned magazines, I would run out to grab them on a regular basis. Having the chance to enjoy all of Neil’s photos in one place in beautiful color and crisp black and white tones was just fantastic.
Continue reading “Van Halen: A Visual History 1978-1984” by Neil Zlozower
Label: Redline Entertainment
Release Date: 6/9/2009
Chickenfoot you say? Chickenfoot? Yeah I admit that it sounds a little bit weird but what’s in a name when it comes to Rock & Roll anyway these days when in the end all that matters is the music that gets put out there. If you haven’t been paying attention to what this actually is well let me update you for a moment. Chickenfoot is the latest super group to hit the music scene and its comprised of Joe Satriani (guitar), Sammy Hagar (vocals), Michael Anthony (bass) and Chad Smith (drums) and based on all of these players previous efforts being so high on the musical food chain one can only imagine what was expected of their opting to work together in this band. So what did we get? Was it a cluster of cacophonous notes and frenzied melodies that went every which way imaginable or was it something greater? Well I am happy to report that what came of this project was an absolutely kick ass Rock album that showcased everyone’s abilities par excellence and showed that they are so good at what they do that when one listens to the self titled debut it sounds as if they had been working together for a lot longer than they had.
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Author: Ian Christe
Title: “Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga”
Publisher: Wiley Publishing
Release Date: 8/24/2007
During the final months of 2007 an event that Hard Rock and Metal fans had been waiting for decades to occur finally had come to pass and this of course was the reunion of the brothers Van Halen with their former singer David Lee Roth. I felt it best to begin our commentary with that bit of knowledge for the book itself leaves us wondering if this will indeed happen. “Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga” by Ian Christe is a journey back in time to the beginning of the band and how its members met and while the more noted Van Halen experts might balk at some of its contents there is really a lot of cool information to absorb when it comes down to it. We journey back to Holland and first meet the Van Halen brothers who were young musicians who performed with their Father and we learn first hand about the sparks being lit by budding guitar genius Edward Van Halen. I won’t recant every chapter but it explains how the band met up and jammed at outdoor parties and simply grew and grew during a time when Hard Rock and Heavy Metal music was being forced out the door by the likes of Disco. We meet a young David Lee Roth and Michael Anthony and learn how they joined the group and each of them offered a unique perspective to the mix as the band struggled for scene dominance and eventually secured their recording contact. Had you been a regular reader of the music magazines that saw publication during the bands early years a lot of this information might not surprise you but with the bands continued impact on modern music today there are clearly more than enough readers who will come away with mountains of detail because of what is lined out in its pages.
Continue reading “Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga” by Ian Christe