From the first notes of "Eruption" on 1978's debut Van Halen album, the rock world was forever changed. Hard rock and metal left the 70s behind and became more muscular. Vocalist David Lee Roth elevated the swagger of frontmen everywhere, and the pyrotechnic guitar virtuosity of Eddie Van Halen set the standard for the term "Guitar God". The rhythm section of Alex Van Halen (drums) and Michael Anthony (bass) created the meatiest foundation heard up to that point.
In 1976 Kiss co-founder Gene Simmons took those four knuckleheads from Pasadena, California into the studio and recorded demos for Van Halen. He took those demos to Kiss management who passed on the band stating, "they had no chance of making it". A year later producer Ted Templeman (Montrose, The Doobie Bros, Van Morrison) saw the same possibilities Simmons had, and that led ultimately to a record deal with Warner Brothers Records. Templeman would go on to produce the first six Van Halen records.
While the late 80's post-Roth era Van Hagar, featuring Sammy Hagar on vocals, was no musical slouch, Van Halen is only Van Halen with the guitar of Eddie and the voice of Roth. The duo co-wrote some of rock music's most enduring anthems, and despite ego quibbles and intoxicant interferences, they remain the heart of the band.
With the release of "A Different Kind of Truth" last year, Roth and the Van Halen's have reunited. Anthony is gone, replaced by a third Van Halen, Eddie's son Wolfgang. But that trademark Van Halen sound returned with an album that spoke to the past and present in equal measure. In honor of the band's return, we will rank and grade all seven Van Halen studio albums that feature Roth.
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Music is the universal language: Speak it loudly!
Rustyn Rose is a veteran music journalist who owns and operates Metalholic Magazine and Metalholic Radio.