Artist spotlight: Van Halen

Between Metallica and The Rolling Stones, I’ve been getting my fix of classic rock recently. But another outfit I can’t get enough of revisiting is Van Halen. Not only are they incredibly nostalgic, they’ve got feel-good ‘80s vibes in droves and, I’m sure you don’t need me to remind you of this, but one of the world’s best, most deft and dexterous guitarists, the late Eddie Van Halen.

I was raised on a very solid diet of classic and heavy rock. Some kids shake off their childhood influences and parents’ tastes to branch out, but I’ve greedily retained them while also expanding my repertoire. Notably and quite plainly, Van Halen being really cool is something I still stand by.

Although I’d have been familiar with loads of their back catalogue at the time, I hadn’t consciously pieced together that those songs were Van Halen’s when I was small. So, my initial lightbulb moment was hearing ‘Dreams’ in the soundtrack of an old ‘90s Power Rangers film. Retro, eh? Or maybe just cheesy? Anyway, since then, it hasn’t faltered as one of the great tunes of its heyday for me. It’s got this jangly, you-can-do-anything atmosphere about it that’s just not possible to recreate.

While it isn’t exactly on par with ‘Dreams’, ‘Panama’ is an uptempo hit that also gets me nodding along. And it might be the obvious choice, but ‘Jump’ is just timeless.

It could be because I got into Van Halen much later than when they originally sprang to fame, which has meant I don’t especially have juxtaposed preferences over the original David Lee Roth or latter Sammy Hagar vocals. But it’s in the periods those two took the mic that Van Halen’s peak pieces came about — at least for me, a more youthful, late onset fan.

Picked up a copy of Van Halen’s ‘1984’ at Missing Records, Glasgow

Top tracks

Here’s an amuse-bouche to get you acquainted:

► ‘Dreams’

► ‘Panama’

► ‘Jump’

► ‘Runnin’ with the Devil’

► ‘Hot for Teacher’


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