Music Monday: Van Halen Debut Turns 40

van halen
Van Halen’s debut album turns 40

Another milestone moment here. I recall sometime in my early high school years, hearing the opening sound to “Runnin’ with the Devil” perhaps at a friend’s house, on the radio or at a local music store. It wasn’t too long after that, when I decided to purchase the album – on 8-Track – and began playing it non-stop. This was mine, and many others, introduction to the Pasadena, CA band Van Halen, 40 years ago this last week.

Track Listing

  1. “Runnin’ with the Devil”
  2. “Eruption” (instrumental)
  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”

Strong Debut

There wasn’t a single song on this debut album that sucked or that I felt needed to be skipped when played. “Eruption” was the song that every kid that wanted to learn the guitar, tried to master, and mostly getting it right. That wasn’t me, but I knew enough kids back around the time that instantly wanted to be Eddie Van Halen – hero worship and all.

My repeated listens to this album always noted David Lee Roth’s yell/scream, which I always thought it sounded like someone was stepping on his foot really hard. The Kinks cover “You Really Got Me” was as faithful to the original, adding the raw and expert guitar work that EVH could only provide to this classic 60’s song.

Years later, I ended up using the song “Ice Cream Man” in a Scooter Sunday episode. And while that’s a great cover song, it’s not my favorite on this album. That honor belongs to “Feel Your Love Tonight” with it’s clever lyrics, “we’re getting funny in the back of my car/I’m sorry honey if I took you just a little too far.” Over the years, I ended up owning this album on vinyl, cassette and CD (ripped to digital), the 8-Track long having been lost or not playable anymore.

I still play this album every so often. It’s on at least a few of the playlists that I keep on my iPods and iPhone. It does quite well at standing the test of time and still being very relevant, even when it’s been more than five years since the last time we’ve heard anything new from the Van Halen offspring.

When was your first time hearing this album? Any favorite song? Comment below.


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