Van Halen album cover
Van Halen

Van Halen

Warner Bros. Records

Sweeping in at the end of the 70s to drive the whole damn decade home, these four Pasadena pinch hitters hit a grand slam homer so powerful the world feels its reverberations to this day. Van Halen’s self-titled is a real mixed rat salad of a record, from revved-up 60s Britrock and horny blues covers to two snarling smash hit singles that single-handedly invented glam metal to a song called “Atomic Punk” that blew away Johnnys Rotten and Ramone. “Jamie’s Cryin’” may be one of the most sincerely insincere post-doo-wop songs ever put to tape, the guitarwork on “I’m the One” and “Eruption” couldn’t possibly have come from human hands, and “On Fire” draws a direct line between Diamond Dave and King Diamond. Rock doesn’t get any more exhilarating than this – no surprise that an entire city spent the following decade trying to replicate it.

Jeff Treppel

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