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The Essential Van Halen 1978 to 1984; The 1st Diamond Dave era

Updated on May 19, 2012

Ed's Unchained sound in a stomp box!

EVH MXR Flanger
EVH MXR Flanger | Source

Van Halen! Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, Michael Anthony and Diamond David Lee Roth made up one of the greatest rock band line-ups in history. Edward's insane fretboard work, Alex's manic drumming, Mikey's solid base, and Dave's incredible stage persona personified rock music! Not to mention the great backing vocals that I personally always set them apart from other bands. The four of them created some great music on their first six albums. In case you are just hearing Van Halen for the first time on their new 2012 release " A Different kind of Truth", I thought I would recommend some essential David Lee Roth era Van Halen essentials for your listening pleasure! I will try to limit it to a couple cuts from each CD! Hopefully, for anyone who might want to down load a few songs for their digital library instead of paying for the whole CD this will be useful! I hope I don't fail you!

EVH Flanger and Phaser
EVH Flanger and Phaser | Source

Alright..let's get started with the year 1978! The first time I heard Van Halen I was blown away by "Eruption" It's only about 1:43 seconds but at the time I had never heard guitar work like this! Ed may not have originated finger tapping but he definitely brought it to the masses! This track changed guitar playing forever and influenced insane amounts of kids to play! However, that's not one of the tracks from this recording I am going to recommend ! This is tough, but I am going to try to limit my picks to only two per recording. So here we go with a little VH tour from 1978 to 1984:


Van Halen I -(1978)

"Runnin' with the Devil" - From the first bass notes, Dave's improvised vocals, through Ed's solos right to the last chord, this is classic Van Halen! We have to start here!

"Feel Your Love Tonight" - Great guitar riff and this is an excellent example of the backing vocals I mentioned earlier! I really like this solo!


Van Halen II - (1979)

"Somebody get me a Doctor" - Flat out...this song rocks from beginning to end! Somebody give me a shot!!

"Outa Love Again" - The guitar in this is so simple but Ed's little nuance he throw's in really make this song groove!

Women and Children First - (1980)

"Everybody wants Some" - You can't get romantic on a subway ride!!!!!!! Ed pulls out all of his guitar effects here and does a little experimentation. Plus a Tarzan yell and Dave's little improvised dialogue that Edward cuts off with a power chord! " Listen when Dave starts his rap..he gets out "I like" before Ed blasts him with the Frankenguitar! Also this song was in a classic 80's movie, "Better Off Dead"!

"Romeo Delight" - Baby Please I can't take it anymore! The other song about whisky from this album! Ed blazes through this one and pulls out all the stops. Love the breakdown and tempo change! Ed's ex Valerie Bertinelli said in her book this was her favorite VH song.


Fair Warning -(1981)

"Unchained" - Without question my favorite song on this CD!! When I was in the Air Force, my room mate Carl and I would always blast this on the stereo at about 6:30 AM on our last day shift before our 3 day break! "Come on Dave, give me a break"!! "Hey, hey, hey hey...one break comin' up!" Ed really makes heavy use of his flanger on this cut! You too can own this sound by buying an MXR EVH Flanger with a button that automatically dials Ed's sound in! Plus it's painted real with real cool pinstripes just like Ed's guitar!

"Mean Street" - This begins with about 30 seconds of craziness that Ed usually works into his live solo spot. All I can tell you is it's really hard to play correctly!. From there it breaks down into the genius that is Edward's rhythm playing with his subtle variations and tasty fills. I always like the way Mike and Alex locked into this groove with Ed live! Somebody say Fair Warning! Lord strike that poor boy down!


Diver Down -(1982)

"Little Guitars" - Kind of a departure from the other songs I picked but the guitar in this always interested me. I have read Ed could not master finger picking and this was his attempt at faking Flamenco guitar. That's what inspired Dave to write a song for the senoritas!

"Where have all the Good Times Gone" - Van Halen was a great cover band. Five of the songs from this album were covers. When they first started they covered a lot of Kinks songs. "You really got me" was a staple of their live set before they recorded it on VHI. They also played this song about two times a night in their bar band days!

Which brings us up to........................................


1984 - (1984)

"Hot for Teacher" - When that double bass kicks in you know it is going to be good! I think this recording represents some of Al's best playing. Straight into Ed's tapping solo! What a way to start a song! The volume changes and groove really pull you through the song. Ed rips off one of his best solos. This song has it all! I think of all the education that I missed but then my homework was never quite like this! The video is a classic with the young Van Halen doubles and Ed delivering his solo walking on the library tables! Let's not forget that teacher! Wooot Wooot! Plus how many people know Waldo's voice in the video was the late Phil Hartman from Saturday Night Live?

"Drop Dead Legs" - This song never got much attention. I guess when Jump, Hot for Teacher, I'll Wait, and Panama make the charts you get buried! None the less, this has some really cool guitar playing in a nice package!

Whew! Well that's it! That was not easy as there are really so many VH songs I like! If you haven't already heard them, check out some of these songs! If you do I hope I don't let you down! I am sure there are many who would disagree with my choices! There are some Van Halen fans out there who like to fight over this stuff!! All in good fun of course! So I won't even bring up the "Dave or Sammy" question here! I'll save that for another time!


Van Halen Song Poll

Which of the Van Halen Songs I discussed is your favorite?

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