History – and Ozzy Osbourne – would try and have us believe that Randy Rhoads was the hottest new guitarist on the block at the time, but this debut by Van Halen came out a full two and a half years before Blizzard Of Ozz, and Eddie is on fire here. People say there’s no soul in the way that these guitarists play, but like any virtuoso, soul and feel will always take a backseat to speed and technique.
This album is also very California – although a lot of the music is in minor keys, it feels sunny and happy all the way through, with even some Beach Boys-esque harmonies employed on Feel Your Love Tonight.
When it comes to David Lee Roth versus Sammy Hagar on vocals, obviously the original frontman is the purist’s choice, but those crazy yelps and creams that Lee Roth peppers all over this album is a little off-putting. So the choice comes down to that, or the middle-of-the-road soulful vocals of Hagar. At the end of the day, I’m only listening to Eddie anyway.
Hit: Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love
Hidden Gem: Eruption