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.