RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Van Halen – Van Halen & 1984 Remasters
Rhino Records

Van Halen:  A+
1984:           A

This is perhaps the easiest review I have ever written!  Come on, how hard can it be to let you, the readers of Classic Rock Revisited, know that the leading record company, when it comes to bringing great music from yesterday back to life today, Rhino Records, has remastered two of the most classic hard rock albums of all time? 

The answer: It’s a breeze and it is a joy to listen to these albums again, sounding even better than before!  Yes indeed, Rhino, on the heels of releasing Van Halen’s new live album, Tokyo Dome in Concert, has remastered these two classic albums and re-released them. 

It takes balls to mess with such iconic albums, but the challenge was met head on by Chris Bellman, who has been working with the legendary Bernie Grundman since 1984!  Bellman took the original quarter-inch tapes and went to work.  While I am far from an audiophile, in fact, I love the grit and grime of rock and roll more than a clean sounding masterwork, even I must admit Chris has done good!  These suckers sound like the boys are in your living room! While each album is released on CD, there are also digital versions and 180-gram vinyl versions. 

It is not necessary to even dwell on the tunes on these suckers, as they are filled with classics.  These reissues give us the time to remember that each album was much more than just the huge hits we all know and love.

Van Halen – Van Halen contains many classic tunes including “Runnin’ with the Devil,” “Eruption,” “You Really Got Me,” “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love,” “Ice Cream Man”  and “Jamie’s Cryin’.”  Let’s not forget other classic rockers on the album such as “I’m the One,” “Atomic Punk,” “Feel Your Love Tonight,” “Little Dreamer” and “On Fire.” 

This is one of the most iconic rock records ever released.  The look of the band, the picture of David Lee Roth on the back cover, bending backwards and screaming and each and every note are all pure rock and roll history.  To think this was the debut album by this band is mind-blowing. 

Michael Anthony is cool as a cat while Alex Van Halen drives the machine forward with his bombastic beats.  Then there is Eddie Van Halen and his striped guitar that changed the face of hard rock forever!  Every lick, riff and note was cutting edge and remains as special now as it was nearly four decades ago.  Diamond Dave caterwauled each song to whatever emotional thrill he was looking for, the icing on an already delicious cake.  To say they don’t make them like this anymore is a total understatement.  They only made it like this once!  This is pure, unadulterated rock and roll!

The album 1984 while legendary, represents the other bookend of the original lineup of the band.  This would be David Lee Roth’s final album with the band in the millennium.  Talk about going out with a bang!  Van Halen were by now MTV darlings, as well as worldwide rock stars, selling out arenas around the world. The song “Jump” touted as the first song to feature a synthesizer by Van Halen in the press (in reality it was not) jumped all the way to the top of the charts. 

“Panama” was another huge hit, and I am not sure there has ever been a better video than “Hot for Teacher!”  Elsewhere, were more great tunes that Rhino is giving the light of day, once again.  “Top Jimmy” and “Drop Dead Legs” are great rocking tunes while “I’ll Wait” is a solid rock ballad.  “Girl Gone Bad” and “House of Pain” are the least known songs, but are also the two tunes that could have been on an earlier album and not been out of place at all.

As great as the news is in this review, there is more coming soon!  Van Halen II, Women and Children First, Fair Warning, and Diver Down are being given the same loving remastering treatment as I type, so there is more classic Van Halen on the way! 

In the meantime, pick up Van Halen and 1984 and throw away your old copies as they pale in comparison.  Crank ‘em up to 12 and wave your fist in the air… I give you permission.  Go on, play these suckers loud and often.  It’s good for you!

By Jeb Wright