Carter’s Catalog: Van Halen’s Debut Album Turns 35

This week marks the 35th anniversary of the debut LP of Van Halen, which introduced the world to David Lee Roth’s on-stage theatrics and, most significantly, the transcendent guitar talent of Eddie Van Halen.

As Carter Alan explains in the above video in the latest edition of Carter’s Catalog, even if you weren’t a fan of Van Halen’s sound you still had to take notice of Eddie’s guitar work.

Much like Led Zeppelin’s debut album, Van Halen’s wasn’t met with great reception from critics upon its release. Courtesy Warner Bros. Records Their mix of heavy metal sounds with polished studio production wasn’t common during the rise of punk in the late-1970s, which Carter himself admits he enjoyed more at the time.

But the virtuosic riffs and solos Eddie employed on tracks like “Eruption,” “Jamie’s Cryin'” and their famous cover of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” made him undeniably one of rock’s foremost axemen, and made the album impossible to ignore.

Eddie’s guitar playing (and the band’s sound as a whole) influenced an entire generation of bands, mostly in heavy metal subgenres but really anyone who picked up a guitar. You could argue that Eddie invented the entire idea of “shredding,” and it all started with that first LP in 1978.

Even 35 years after they released their debut, Van Halen’s sound is as striking as it ever was.

— Matt Dolloff /

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