Top Artists – Van Halen

Van Halen – What to Listen For

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of Van Halen’s debut album.

Most copies just do not have the kind of weight to the bottom and lower mids that this music needs to work. Put simply, if your Van Halen LP doesn’t rock, then what exactly is the point of playing it?

The other qualities to look for on the best pressings are, firstly, space — the best pressings are huge and three-dimensional, with large, lively, exceptionally dynamic choruses.

The copies with the most resolving power are easy to spot — they display plenty of lovely analog reverb trailing the guitars and vocals. (more…)

Van Halen – Van Halen – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

We recently took the time to shoot out a bunch of original pressings of Van Halen’s debut. I’m sure it won’t come as much of a surprise to most of you that the average copy is, well, quite average sounding. Not bad, just mediocre. Not rockin’ all that hard and not all that much fun. You know the kind of record I’m talkin’ about.

Sounds great on the radio, but the record you just picked up at your local Flip Side doesn’t seem to be doing much for you. The problem you find yourself with is the same problem most people have, but they don’t know they have it, because they don’t understand how dramatic the variations in pressings can be.

The problem is simply a mediocre pressing. The world is full of them. We know them well; they’re the kind we wade through in order to get to the good ones. (more…)

Van Halen First Album on DCC – Not My Idea of Good Sound

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Sonic Grade: D

Hall of Shame pressing and another DCC LP debunked.

As I recall it isn’t very good — thick and dull and closed-in; in other words, boring — but I played it quite a while ago. If your copy sounds better, more power to you, but I bet it doesn’t. Any copy we sell is guaranteed to blow the doors off of it — as well as any other pressing you own — or your money back.

Go ahead and turn up your nose if you like, but this music is widely considered classic rock by now. I’m not going to pretend it’s on a level with After The Gold Rush or Zep II, but this album does exactly what it’s trying to do — it really ROCKS.

Donn Landee

Credit DONN LANDEE (and Ted Templeman too) with the rich, smooth, oh-so-analog sound of the best copies. He’s recorded many of our favorite albums here at Better Records. (more…)

Van Halen – 1984 – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

THE BEST COPY OF 1984 TO EVER HIT THE SITE — better than A++ on both sides with unusually quiet vinyl! We know this one ain’t for everyone, but we also expect that a bunch of you will be very excited to see this one in Hot Stamper form. And for good reason — on a copy like this one, this music rocks like crazy! Both sides here have the kind of BIG, full-bodied sound that lets the music come to life the way it needs to. There’s nothing phony here — the sound is natural and balanced with big punchy drums and lots of meat to the guitars.

One quick note: PLEASE do not buy this record if you intend to listen to it quietly. This music makes absolutely no sense at lower listening levels. If you’re not gonna turn this one up loud enough to offend the neighbors, you’ll be missing out on the qualities that make this pressing so special. (more…)

Van Halen – Women And Children First

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  • An outstanding copy of the band’s third release, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Full-bodied, smooth analog sound is the key to the best Van Halen pressings, and here both sides have it 
  • One of our favorite engineers, Donn Landee, worked his magic here (together with Ted Templeman) and the results are superb
  • 4 1/2 stars: “After two pure party albums, the inevitable had to happen: it was time for Van Halen to mature, or at least get a little serious … This is the first Van Halen album to consist entirely of original material and there’s some significant growth here to the writing…”

(more…)

Van Halen – Van Halen II

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  • A STUNNING copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • These killer sides are highly resolving, smooth and full-bodied, with a huge bottom end and massive amounts of rock and roll energy – if this isn’t the right sound for Van Halen’s music, we don’t know what else could be!
  • 4 stars: “… this feels both heavier and lighter than the debut. Heavier in that this sounds big and powerful, driven by mastodon riffs that aim straight of the gut. Lighter in that there’s a nimbleness to the attack… it’s hard not to marvel at these two frontmen, and hard not to be sucked into the vortex of some of the grandest hard rock ever made.” 

(more…)

Van Halen – Diver Down

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this copy of Van Halen’s fifth studio album 
  • Surprisingly big, lively, open, rich and present with real extension both up top and down low – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This album put the band’s hard-rocking spin on a number of covers, including “(Oh) Pretty Woman,” “Dancing in the Street,” and Where Have All The Good Times Gone!”
  • “…this is undoubtedly the work of a finely honed band who has only grown tighter and heavier since their debut… it’s one of Van Halen’s best records, one that’s just pure joy to hear. Like the debut, it’s a great showcase for all the group’s strengths…”

(more…)

Van Halen – 5150

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  • Sammy Hagar’s Van Halen debut finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Clean and clear and open are nice qualities to have, but lively and full are harder to come by on this record – this pressing has it all 
  • “Van Hagar” hit the ground running with this new incarnation, including “Why Can’t This Be Love,” “Love Walks In” and “Dreams”
  • 4 stars: “… on 5150… they had the songs and the desire to party, so those good intentions and slow tunes don’t slow the album down; they give it variety and help make the album a pretty impressive opening act for Van Halen Mach II.”

(more…)

Van Halen – 1984

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  • A stunning copy of this hard rock classic with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides are rockin’ like crazy – lots of energy, impressive size and big-time presence
  • Tons of hits: Panama, Hot For Teacher, Jump, and you won’t believe how good they sound on this copy
  • 5 stars: “It’s the best showcase of Van Halen’s instrumental prowess as a band… the best showcase for their songwriting, just their flat-out best album overall.”

Want to hear three of the best songs these guys ever did — Jump, Panama and Hot For Teacher — sound incredible? We recently had a chance to shoot out a bunch of these, and I’m sure it won’t surprise you that most copies were a JOKE. Most of them just do not have the kind of weight to the bottom end that this music needs to work. Put simply: if your Van Halen LP can’t rock, then what’s the point? (more…)

Van Halen – Van Halen

More Van Halen

Van Halen – Van Halen

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  • This outstanding copy of the band’s debut album boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides here are smooth, rich and Tubey Magical, with soaring guitars and huge choruses that really get loud 
  • One of the most powerful rock recordings of its day (if you get one that sounds like this)
  • 5 stars: “They sound vital, surprising, and ultimately fun — and really revolutionary, because no other band rocked like this before Van Halen, and it’s still a giddy thrill to hear them discover a new way to rock on this stellar, seminal debut.”

Turn up your nose if you like, but this music is widely considered classic rock by now. I’m not going to pretend it’s on a level with After The Gold Rush or Zep II, but this album does exactly what it’s trying to do — it really ROCKS. (more…)