“We’re Van Halen, for those who just walked in.” – David Lee Roth
Not all Van Halen was great and not all radio broadcasts worth buying. Some are quite shoddy, but important for historical reasons. Welcome to the 1975 KSWM broadcast CD!
“We’re playing dance music for people who like to party tonight!” says Dave. The first track to dance to is the Stones’ “If You Can’t Rock Me”: Sloppy, ragged, barely holding together, and then the shitty disc fades the song out! This might have been an act of mercy, as it sounds absolutely rubbish. Listen – if there’s no complete song, then list it as such on the back!
“We came unprepared for this, as usual!” says Dave, but my patience with the CD is already wearing thin. “Jean Genie” is a full song (more talking than singing) and it’s pretty terrible. On one hand, at least Van Halen did it in their own still-forming style, but it’s barely listenable, except for Eddie’s free sololing. An original “Women In Love” is actually better than the Bowie cover, but warbling tape makes it difficult to enjoy. Too bad, since this older version is different from the final Van Halen II arrangement.
Dave says wants to get funky on “Rock Steady”, while Michael Anthony acts as cheerleader on stage left. It’s not really funky but it does groove. Like all the songs, it’s a vehicle for Eddie to solo, and that’s always a good thing. A long rendition of “Rock ‘N Roll Hoochie Koo” follows (yes, they spelled the song title differently from the CD title). This one’s a good jam, with Eddie predictably blowing ’em all away. Dave’s with him with the odd “Ow!” and “Woo!” but this is the Eddie Show, from rhythms to leads.
A track called “The Fool and Me” from Bridge of Sighs by Robin Trower is a brilliant inclusion. This allows Eddie to show off that side of him that was inspired by Eric Clapton. It’s also Dave’s first chance to really sing, when his voice was raw and wild. Same with “Keep Playing that Rock ‘N’ Roll” (Edgar Winter). This one is just fun, and the band play it tight. Judging by the change in audio at this point, this is probably the end of the actual radio broadcast.
A couple minutes of rambling chatter with no value is laughingly listed as “Eddie & Dave Talk About Recording”. There is no such talk. It sounds like hitting on a woman.
“Eddie Warming Up” is what it sounds like. It’s cool. He plays several licks, some of which ended up in well known Van Halen songs later on. You can hear the telltale scratch of vinyl, which indicates this one was a vinyl bootleg at one point before being digitized.
Finally “I’m the One (Show Your Love)” is live once more, maybe from the same show as the broadcast, maybe not, who knows. This ‘Halen original is already fully formed, though the flimsy equipment they were playing through can’t communicate the full fury of original Van Halen.
This broadcast is pretty hard to recommend. The centrepiece is Eddie warming up, and that’s not even from the show. It’s pretty hard to play the whole thing through, but at least most of the problems are up front at the start.
COMPLETE VAN HALEN REVIEW SERIES:
VAN HALEN – Zero (1977 Gene Simmons demo bootleg)
VAN HALEN – Van Halen (1978 Warner)
VAN HALEN – Van Halen II (1979 Warner)
VAN HALEN – Women and Children First (1980 Warner)
VAN HALEN – Fair Warning (1981 Warner)
VAN HALEN – Diver Down (1982 Warner)
VAN HALEN – 1984 (1984 Warner)
VAN HALEN – 5150 (1986 Warner Bros.)
VAN HALEN – OU812 (1988 Warner)
VAN HALEN – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991)
VAN HALEN – LIVE: Right here, right now. (1993 Warner Bros, plus “Jump” live single)
VAN HALEN – Balance (1995 Warner – Japanese version included)
VAN HALEN – Balance (1995) Review by Derek Kortepeter
VAN HALEN – Best Of Volume I (1996 Warner)
VAN HALEN – 3 (Collectors’ tin 1998)
VAN HALEN – The Best of Both Worlds (2005 Warner)
VAN HALEN – A Different Kind of Truth (2012)
VAN HALEN – Tokyo Dome Live in Concert (2015)
VAN HALEN – Tokyo Dome Live in Concert (2015) Review by Tommy Morais
VAN HALEN – “Best of Both Worlds” (1986 Warner 7″ single)
VAN HALEN – Selections from LIVE: Right here, right now. (1993 Warner promo EP)
VAN HALEN – “Can’t Get This Stuff No More” / “Me Wise Magic” (1996 Warner promo singles)
VAN HALEN – “Can’t Stop Loving You” (Parts 1 & 2, inc. collector’s tin)
VAN HALEN – “Right Now” (1992 cassette single, Warner)
VAN HALEN – Video Hits Volume I (1998 DVD)
VAN HALEN vs. JOHN LENNON – “Imagine A Jump” mashup by “Mighty Mike”
RECORD STORE TALES Part 186: The Van Halen Tin