Not many bands enjoyed the longevity that Van Halen enjoy. They were released their debut album Van Halen in 1978. It was hailed as one of the greatest debut albums in musical history. Soon, Van Halen was climbing the charts, reaching number nineteen. As Van Halen’s popularity grew, sales of their debut album sold.
By 1999, when Van Halen were put on hold, their eponymous debut album had sold ten million copies. Van Halen was certified diamond, something that happens to only a handful of albums. However, by then Van Halen were one of the most successful and biggest selling bands in musical history.
After the release of Van Halen in 1978, the California based band released another ten albums. Each and every one of these albums were certified multi-platinum. In America alone, Van Halen’s next ten studio albums sold an incredible forty-million copies. Their most successful studio album released during this period was 1984.
Released on 9th January 1984, 1984 took the world by storm. It was certified diamond in America and five times platinum in Canada. In Europe, 1984 was certified platinum in Germany and gold in France and Britain. That’s no surprise. Van Halen were at their hard rocking best on Van Halen, unleashing classics like Jump, Panama and Hot For Teacher. It seemed that Van Halen could do no wrong.
That proved to be the case. Right through to 1995s Balance, Van Halen’s studio albums sold millions. So did their 1993 live album Live: Right Here, Right Now. It sold two million copies in America along. Van Halen were enjoying a glittering, multi-platinum career. That’s despite fall-outs, changes in lineup and a love of the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle.
When Van Halen released Van Halen III on March 17th 1998, it failed to match the commercial success of previous albums. It was “only” certified gold. Four years later, when Van Halen released A Different Type Of Truth on February 7th 2012, it was to controversy.
Seven of the songs on A Different Type Of Truth had been demoed in the late seventies, early eighties. However, they were never released. So, when the songs featured on A Different Type Of Truth, Van Halen’s fans weren’t happy. They voted with their feet.
No longer were Van Halen selling millions of albums. Very few groups were. On the release of A Different Type Of Truth, it reached number two on the US Billboard 200 and sold 411,000 copies. This wasn’t even enough for a gold disc. The only place that A Different Type Of Truth was certified gold, was in Canada. It was changed days for Van Halen, one of rock’s biggest, most successful and hardest living bands.
Rock ’n’ roll’s great survivors comeback wasn’t the success that they had hoped. Van Halen couldn’t leave it there. Not after thirty-eight years together. Surely, they would release one more album. They did.
It wasn’t another studio album. Instead, Van Halen released the second live album of their career. Forty-one years since they changed their name to Van Halen, they released Tokyo Dome Live in Concert on March 31st 2015. Tokyo Dome Live in Concert was no ordinary live album. Instead, it’s a twenty-five track double album featuring some of Van Halen’s biggest singles and best known songs. Two weeks later, and Tokyo Dome Live in Concert is climbing the American charts It’s already reached number twenty in the US Billboard 200 charts. However, over the last few days, a much wider audience will have heard Tokyo Dome Live in Concert.
When Tokyo Dome Live in Concert was released by Rhino on March 31st 2015, so were remastered version two of Van Halen’s classic albums, Van Halen I and 1984. Two weeks later, and Rhino released a four disc box set Deluxe, which features Van Halen I, 1984 and Tokyo Dome Live in Concert. For newcomers to Van Halen, this is the ideal starter pack. Van Halen I and 1984 feature Van Halen at the peak of their powers. Tokyo Dome Live in Concert allows the listener to experience what Van Halen live sounds like. Just like Van Halen and 1984, it’s’s a reminder of Van Halen at the peak of their powers. The story began back in the early seventies.
It was in 1977, that Van Ha;en signed to Warner Bros. Records. Mo Ostin and Ted Templeman of Warner Bros. Records saw Van Halen perform at the Starwood in Hollywood. The two men were so impressed with Van Halen that they signed the group within a week. At last, Van Halen were starting to go places.
Van Halen were no overnight success story. Instead, they had paid their dues. Brothers, Eddie and Alex Van Halen had formed a band in the early seventies. Like many bands, they found it difficult to settle on a name. Initially, they were called The Broken Combs, then changed the name to The Trojan Rubber Co. By then, The Trojan Rubber Co. had a settled lineup.
Their lineup featured Alex on drums and Eddie on guitar. They were joined by bassist Mark Stone and vocalist David Lee Roth, who they had hired a sound system from. Eddie had initially failed the audition. However, Eddie and Alex were realists. Money was tight, so if they brought David onboard, they would save having to hire a sound system. They also thought that David might improve as a vocalist. However, in 1974, The Trojan Rubber Co. changed its name and its lineup.
1974 was a pivotal year for The Trojan Rubber Co. By then, bassist Mark Stone had been replaced by bassist Michael Anthony. His audition was unorthodox. Only after Michael took part in an all night jam session, was he hired. So, Michael left local band Snake and joined The Trojan Rubber Co. Soon, The Trojan Rubber Co. changed its name to Mammoth, and then Van Halen. For the next three years, Van Halen spent honing their sound.
Van Halen played wherever they could. Backyard parties, clubs and dive bars, they weren’t proud. Far from it. They certainly were loud. Too loud some thought.
When Van Halen went to audition at Gazzarri’s, a bar on Sunset Strip, that was down on its luck, the owner Bill Gazzarri, told them they were “too loud, and refused to hire them.” However, Van Halen’s new managers stepped in. Mark Algorri and Mario Miranda had just taken over the booking at Gazzarri’s. So, Van Halen were installed as the house band. Not long after this, Van Halen entered the studio for the first time.
The four members of Van Halen headed to Cherokee Studios, which had recently housed Steely Dan. At Cherokee Studios, Van Halen recorded their demo tape. It would become their calling card, and see them play some of L.A.’s top clubs, including the famous Whisky-A-Go-Go.
Soon, Van Halen were a permanent fixture in L.A.’s top clubs. That’s where they continued to hone their sound. It’s also where they came to the attention of Kiss’ Gene Simmons.
Gene Simmons had heard good things about Van Halen. So, he went to check out Van Halen. According to what he had heard, they were one of the rising stars of L.A.’s music scene. When Gene Simmons arrived at the Gazzarri club in the summer of 1976, he was won over by Van Halen. He knew they were going places.
So, Gene Simmons took Van Halen to Village Recorders in L.A. to produce a new demo tape. Overdubs then took place at Electric Ladyland in New York. Things were looking good for Van Halen. The only thing Van Halen baulked at, was Gene’s suggestion to change the band’s name to Daddy Longlegs. That was a step too far. The next step was for Gene to take the newly recorded demo tape to Kiss’ management.
When Kiss’ management heard the demo, they were pretty disparaging about Van Halen. According to Kiss’ managers, Van Halen “had no chance of making it.” These words would come back to haunt them, after Van Halen sold over forty-two million albums in America alone. However, with Kiss’ management not interested in signing Van Halen, Gene Simmons bowed out of the story. He would be replaced a year later by Mo Ostin and Ted Templeman.
Down but not out, Van Halen returned to the club circuit. For the next year, they continued to hone their sound on the club circuit. One night, in the middle of 1977, Van Halen were playing at the Starwood in Hollywood. There wasn’t much of an audience. However, little did Van Halen know, that two very special guests were in the audience, Mo Ostin and Ted Templeman of Warner Bros. Records. The pair liked what they heard and less than a week later, Van Halen had signed to Warner Bros. Records. Mo Ostin dispatched Van Halen to Sunset Sound Records with producer Ted Templeman, where recording of Van Halen began.
Like many bands recording their debut album, Van Halen were fearless. They had no apprehension. Mind you, this wasn’t exactly a new experience. Van Halen had been in studios before, recording two different demo tapes. However, this was for real. The band had written nine tracks. The other two were covers of The Kinks’ You Really Got Me and John Brim’s Ice Cream Man. These eleven tracks would eventually become Van Halen’s debut album, Van Halen.
Recording of Van Halen began in the middle of September 1977. Van Halen’s rhythm section of drummer Alex Van Halen and bassist Michael Anthony set about proving the album’s pulsating heartbeat. A week was spent recording Eddie’s guitar parts. Another two weeks were spent recording David’s vocals and the backing vocals. By early October 1977, recording of Van Halen was all but complete. The decision was made not to do much in the way of over-dubbing. This meant Van Halen was much more like hearing Van Halen live. How would critics respond to this?
Before the release of Van Halen, critics had their say. For everyone at Warner Bros. Records, they held their breath. Back in 1978, critics could be venomous. It was hardly rock critic’s finest hour. They were in the throes of a love affair with punk. Many critics took great pleasure in trashing rock albums. The critics didn’t hold back when it came to Van Halen. Most of the reviews were negative. One of the worst reviews came from the so called doyen of critics, the contrarian Robert Christgau. The equally contrarian Rolling Stone were not fans of Van Halen. At least they admitted that Van Halen were going places. Mostly, the reviews panned Van Halen. However, soon, critics would be eating their words.
When Van Halen was released on 18th February 1978, it began climbing the charts. Eventually, it reached number nineteen in the US Billboard 200 charts. This was just the start of the rise and rise of Van Halen.
Three singles were released from Van Halen. A cover of The Kinks’ You Really Got Me reached number thirty-six in the US Billboard 100. Runnin’ With The Devil Stalled at number eighty-four in the US Billboard 100. The final single released from Van Halen was Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love. It failed to chart. While the singles failed to replicate the success of Van Halen, it showcased the band at their hard rocking best.
Literally, Van Halen strut and swagger through the eleven tracks on their debut album Van Halen. It’s no surprise that rock and heavy metal fans were won over by Van Halen. It’s a track full of some of Van Halen’s biggest songs, including Runnin’ With The Devil, Eruption, You Really Got Me, Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love, Jamie’s Cryin’ and Ice Cream Man. Van Halen’s rhythm section of Alex and Michael provide the backdrop to Eddie’s blistering guitars and David’s lived-in vocal. From the opening bars of Runnin’ With The Devil, right through On Fire, Van Halen win friends and influence people. The band who just a year ago, were being hailed L.A.’s best bar band, were on their way to becoming a one of the biggest bands on planet rock.
Six years later, everything Van Halen had touched turned multi-platinum. The four albums Van Halen released between 1979s Van Halen II, to 1982s Diver Down had transformed Van Halen’s fortunes. These four albums had sold an estimated fourteen million copies. Then there was Van Halen, their debut album. It was belatedly being referred to as a classic album.
With Van Halen one of America’s biggest selling bands, critics were forced to rethink their opinion on the band’s eponymous debut album. Belatedly critics had realised the error of their ways. Not for the first time, critics were forced to do an about turn. They realised that Van Halen was a classic rock album. Now they were referring to Van Halen as one of rock ’n’ roll’s greatest debut albums. No longer were Van Halen seen as a bar band who caught a lucky break. Not when their albums were selling by the million. This included Van Halen.
As Van Halen got ready to release their sixth album 1984, Van Halen reentered the US Billboard 200, reaching number 117. Over the next fifteen years, Van Halen consistently sold well. By 1999, when Van Halen were put on hold, their eponymous debut album had sold ten million copies. Van Halen was certified diamond, something that happens to only a handful of albums. Meanwhile, Van Halen was continuing to sell well throughout Europe and Canada by 1999.
Van Halen had been certified gold in Britain, Finland, France and Germany. In Canada, Van Halen was certified platinum four times over. When sales were added up, Van Halen had sold just over eleven million copies. However, Van Halen wasn’t the band’s biggest selling album. That honour fell to 1984.
During the six years since Van Halen released their eponymous debut album, Van Halen were without doubt, the biggest bands in planet rock. Van Halen were certainly the highest paid band in rock music. No wonder. Each album reached a higher chart placing than its predecessor. So, it’s no surprise that Van Halen had sold fourteen million albums in America alone. 1984, however, was a game-changer, in more ways than one.
Behind the scenes, all wasn’t well within Van Halen. David Lee Roth, Van Halen’s charismatic frontman would quit after 1984. In some ways, the writing had been on the wall.
During the recording of Van Halen’s previous album, Diver Down, released in 1982, David, Eddie and producer Rod Templeman had clashed. The problem was, Eddie wanted to make keyboards a prominent part of the Van Halen sound. David and Rod disagreed. Thinking that Van Halen was a democracy, the two men thought the matter was settled. They were wrong.
Despite this, Eddie went ahead and recorded much of Diver Down at his home studio. When the band heard it, it was keyboard heavy rock rubbed shoulders with Van Halen’s trademark sound. Presented with what seemed like a fait accompli, David began to reconsider his position. He was far from happy with Eddie’s sudden discovery and love of synths. For a rock ’n’ roller like David, this was sacrilege. However, David decided to continue with Van Halen…meantime.
Recording of 1984 took place during 1983 at 5150 Studio, in Studio City, California. Van Halen cowrote all of 1984s songs. Michael McDonald however, received a credit for I’ll Wait. Van Halen’s rhythm section of drummer Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony’s thunderous bass set about providing the 1984’s heartbeat. Eddie Van Halen played guitar and keyboards. For the last time, David Lee Roth added vocals. Once 1984 was completed, it was that time again, time for critics to have their say on Van Halen’s sixth album.
When reviews of 1984 were published, mostly, they were positive. As usual, there was the odd dissenting voice. One Napoleonic critic described 1984 as a one sided album. For him, the second side received the consolation prize. What he failed to see, was that side one set the bar high.
From the instrumental 1984, through the the Van Halen classics Jump and Panama, Van Halen could do wrong. They were well on their way to hitting a home run. Top Jimmy and Drop Dead Legs rounded off side one, and left you wanting more of Van Halen’s heavy rocking music. Everything just dropped into place. Even the synths had their place, and played their part in a classic album. The fun didn’t stop there.
Hot For Teacher was the perfect way to start side one. An anthemic track, it gave way to I’ll Wait, one of the singles from 1984. Girl Gone Bad was another fist pumping anthem, that showcased what Van Halen were capable. By the time House Of Pain closed 1984 it was apparent that Van Halen had released the second classic album of their career.
1984s fusion of keyboard heavy rock, combined Van Halen’s trademark hard rocking sound proved a winning combination. These two sides of Van Halen resulted in a classic album that would become the biggest selling album of Van Halen’s career.
On its release on January 9th 1984, 1984 started climbing the charts. Eventually, it reached number two in the US Billboard 200. This was the highest chart placing of Van Halen’s six album career. It also became the biggest selling album of Van Halen’s career. Eventually, 1984 sold twelve million copies. 1984 became Van Halen’s second album to be certified diamond. Elsewhere, 1984 was a huge seller.
In Canada, 1984 was certified five times platinum. Over the Atlantic, 1984 was certified gold in Britain and France. Meanwhile, 1984 was certified platinum in Germany. That wasn’t the end of the commercial success.
Four singles were released from 1984. Jump reached number one in the US Billboard 100. I’ll Wait then reached number thirteen in the US Billboard 100. Panama became the third single to be released from 1984. It reached number two in the US Billboard 200. The final single released from 1984, was Hot For Teacher, which stalled at number fifty-six in the US Billboard 200. By then, 1984 had become Van Halen’s most successful album of their career, and their second classic album. However, it was the end of an era.
Following the release of 1984, David Lee Roth left Van Halen. The disagreements with Eddie Van Halen had taken their toll. Relations had been strained since the recording of Diver Down. Eddie was pro synths, David a died in the wool rock ’n’ roller, wasn’t in favour of this stylistic departure. When the pair couldn’t resolve their disagreements, David called time on his career with Van Halen.
David had had a good run. Especially since he was originally seen as a stopgap singer. He had failed the original audition. However, David lasted six albums. They sold thirty-six million copies. Not bad for what one critic referred to as a bar band. It would be another twenty-two years before David Lee Roth rejoined Van Halen.
That was during the 2006 reunion of Van Halen. This was their second reunion. However, it took another six years before they recorded an album. A Different Kind of Truth was released in 2006, it was to controversy.
Seven of the songs on A Different Type Of Truth had been demoed in the late seventies, early eighties. However, they were never released. So, when the songs featured on A Different Type Of Truth, Van Halen’s loyal fans weren’t happy. They voted with their feet.
No longer were Van Halen selling millions of albums. Very few groups were. On the release of A Different Type Of Truth, it reached number two on the US Billboard 200 and sold 411,000 copies. This wasn’t even enough for a gold disc. It was changed days from when Van Halen and 1984, released ten and twelve million copies respectively. Music might have changed but Van Halen were still a hard rocking band capable of playing blistering rock music. They do this on their recent live album Tokyo Dome Live in Concert.
Tokyo Dome Live in Concert.
It was on February 5th 2015 that one of the worst kept secrets in music was conformed. Van Halen were about to release the second live album of their career, Tokyo Dome Live in Concert. The concert had been recorded on June 21st 2013, when Van Halen were touring their A Different Type Of Truth album. However, Tokyo Dome Live in Concert was going to be no ordinary album.
Tokyo Dome Live in Concert the announcement read, was going to be a double album, featuring twenty-five tracks. It was released on 31st March 2015, then as part of the Deluxe box set on 13th April 2015.
After its release, Tokyo Dome Live in Concert started climbing the charts. Quickly, it had reached number twenty in the US Billboard 200. That was early days. Once Van Halen fans hear snippets of Tokyo Dome Live in Concert, the album will keep climbing the charts.
Quite simply, Tokyo Dome Live in Concert features some of Van Halen’s best known songs. Classics and old favourites sit by side, as the original, and classic lineup of Van Halen roll back the years. They might be older, and somewhat worse for years of hard living, but they’re still one of best rock bands on planet rock. That’s the case from the moment they take to the stage.
Opening disc one of Tokyo Dome Live in Concert is Unchained from 1981s Fair Warning. After that, they turn to Runnin’ With The Devil and from their 1978 debut album Van Halen. From there, they turn to She’s The Woman, the first track from 2012 A Different Type Of Truth album. Later, the return to their first classic album Van Halen, for I’m the One and You Really Got Me. Other highlights include Everyone Wants Some from 1981s Woman and Children First, Somebody Get Me a Doctor from Valen II and Hear About It Later from 1981s Fair Warning. However, Van Halen aren’t finished yet.
Having worked their way through twelve tracks, they return with another thirteen. These tracks are taken from Van Halen, Van Halen II, Women and Children First, Fair Warning and 1984.
Dance The Night Away from 1979s Van Halen II kicks disc two of Tokyo Dome Live in Concert. It’s the first of three tracks from Van Halen II. The others are Beautiful Girls and Women in Love. Before then, Van Halen unleash I’ll Wait from 1984, And The Cradle Will Rock from Women and Children First and the anthemic Hot For Teacher. That’s the first of the track from the eighties.
It’s not the last. Romeo Delight from Women and Children First and Mean Street from Fair Warning follow. Then it’s back to the seventies, when Van Halen’s star were on their way to becoming one of rock’s biggest bands.
Beautiful Girls gives way to Ice Cream Man from 1978s Van Halen. Then it’s time for one of Van Halen’s hands in the air anthems, Panama. Van Halen are on a roll. So, they return to their debut album Van Halen, and unleash Eruption and Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love. That leaves Van Halen’s most famous single to close Tokyo Dome Live in Concert. For twenty-five tracks and over two hours, Van Halen at their hard rocking best swagger and strut their way through their second live album, Tokyo Dome Live in Concert. It’s the final album on the four disc box set Deluxe, which was recently released by Rhino.
For anyone unfamiliar with Van Halen’s music, the Deluxe box set is the perfect introduction to their music. It features their two classic albums, Van Halen and 1984. They’re without doubt, the two best albums Van Halen released.
Van Halen is now recognised as one of the greatest debut albums in rock music history. That is a big statement to make, and looked unlikely back in 1978. Critics slated Van Halen. However, they were in the throes of a love affair with punk and post punk. Later, when the critics reevaluated Van Halen, they realised how wrong they were. By then, it was a multi-platinum album. Eventually, Van Halen sold ten million copies. Somehow, Van Halen surpassed this with 1984.
By 1984, Van Halen had been given a musical makeover by Eddie Van Halen. He introduced synths on 1982s Diver Down. This didn’t please David Lee Roth. Eddie however, wasn’t going to change his mind. So, following the release of 1984, David left Van Halen. The original and classic lineup of Van Halen were no more.
It wasn’t until 2012s A Different Kind of Truth that the original lineup of Van Halen returned to the studio. A year later, Van Halen were touring A Different Kind of Truth. On June 21st 2013, Van Halen were in Tokyo, ready to record the second live album of their five decade career, Tokyo Dome Live in Concert. It was released on March 31st 2015, and as part of the Deluxe box set on 13th April 2015. Tokyo Dome Live in Concert sees Van Halen, one of the hardest rocking bands in the history of rock, roll back the years. They dig deep into their back-catalogue and unleash a string of classics and old favourites. This includes tracks from Van Halen and 1984, the other two albums on the Deluxe box set, which is the perfect introduction to Van Halen, one of the biggest and best selling bands in America’s illustrious musical history.
- Posted in: Rock
- Tagged: 1984, Alex Van Halen, David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Rhino, Tokyo Dome Live in Concert, Van Halen