Top Artists – Van Halen

Letter of the Week – “Oh man, what a difference. Huge sound – really alive – the way you remember this sound should be like.”

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Reviews and Commentaries for Van Halen

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom,  

I just got a super hot stamper Van Halen and immediately got out my DCC version – which is a record I’ve had no complaints about – compared to most of the heavy vinyl remaster crap – but, oh man, what a difference. Huge sound – really alive – the way you remember this sound should be like – I saw these boys when they first hit – one of my first rock concerts. Thanks again – this was money well spent – and on this one, I can even ebay away the DCC and more than break even (I almost feel guilty about that!).

Richard

Hi Richard,

Isn’t it funny how a record that doesn’t sound “bad” in any way — the DCC – falls so far short of what it really should have sounded like? How will the audiophile record collectors of the world ever get better sound when they already think they have it?

Anyway, glad to hear you liked our Hot Stamper as much as we did!

Best, TP

PS

Back in 1998 we were still selling Heavy Vinyl (mea culpa as always), and this title was one we were offering to our customers at that time, although I don’t recall ever having anything nice to say about it. Our review can be found here.

Van Halen – 1984

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  • 1984 finally returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • These sides have the kind of BIG, full-bodied sound that lets this rockin’ band come to life exactly the way you want them to
  • Nothing phony here – the sound is natural and balanced, with meaty guitars and big punchy drums
  • Plenty 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.”
  • If you’re a fan of Van Halen when Diamond Dave was still the front man, a killer copy of their album from 1984 belongs in your collection

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 far too many copies were unimpressive. Most just do not have the weight on the bottom end that this music needs to work.

Turn your nose up if you like, but this music is Classic Rock by now. I’m not going to pretend it’s on a level with After The Gold Rush or Zep II, but the band on this album definitely knows how to rock. The All Music Guide gives this one 5 Big Stars, and I’m sure that plenty of audiophiles feel just as strongly about it. (more…)

Van Halen – Women And Children First

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Reviews and Commentaries for Van Halen

  • 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…”

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Van Halen – Van Halen II

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Reviews and Commentaries for Van Halen

  • 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!
  • One of our favorite engineers, Donn Landee, worked his magic here (together with Ted Templeman) and the results are superb
  • 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.” 

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Van Halen / Self-Titled – What to Listen For

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Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Van Halen

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.

And lastly (although we could go on for days with this kind of stuff), listen for spit on the vocals. Even the best copies have some sibilance, but the bad copies have much too much and make the sibilance gritty to boot.

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Van Halen on DCC – Not My Idea of Good Sound

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Reviews and Commentaries for Van Halen

Sonic Grade: D

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

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Van Halen – Diver Down

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Reviews and Commentaries for Van Halen

  • You’ll find outstanding 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…”

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Van Halen – 5150

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Reviews and Commentaries for Van Halen

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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.”

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Van Halen – Self-Titled

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Reviews and Commentaries for Van Halen

  • 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…)