October 15, 2012

Van Halen: 1st [Rhino Reissue]

Finally picked up the 2009 Rhino 180 gram reissue of Van Halen's 1978 debut, pressed at RTI (my fave!).  I can't say enough about this album!  This was one of the first rock albums I got for myself- as part of my first Columbia House membership introductory shipment (13 albums!). It came in a GIANT box compared to the RCA club box that arrived first, and unlike my RCA order that was full of the R&B/Early 80's Funk artists I listened to on the radio, the Columbia House box was an all Rock & Roll experiment- stuff I'd heard my friends listening to and kind of liked, but nothing I would pay for with my own car-wash cash / allowance:  Van Halen, Judas Priest - Screaming For Vengeance, Ozzy's Diary of a Madman, Ted Nugent's Great Gonzos, Loverboy's first 2, Foreigner 4, AC/DC - Dirty Deeds & For Those About To Rock (my girlfriend had Back In Black and Highway To Hell), Def Leppard's Pyromania, and the Eagles Greatest Hits Vol 2 and double Live album. They all remain favorite albums 30 years later, but none as much as this Van Halen debut, which was already 4 years old at the time.

Originally remastered for DCC by Kevin Gray and Steve Hoffman for a gold compact disc release, then issued on very limited audiophile vinyl in May of 2000- of which a sealed copy now sells between $100-200.  Even though this is advertised as being remastered by Kevin Gray from the original tapes, it is pressed from the DCC metal master and includes the same matrix numbers and KG/SH initials in the dead wax.

Rhino also duplicated the original packaging. Original pressings had black & white photos on the inner sleeve, WB, realizing it was a hit, changed it to color photos for the second pressing on.  Using the original black & white photos here, Rhino did stay true to the original release except that this is a folded insert and not a record sleeve. Record labels are also reproductions of the original WB "palm tree' label.

Package: single jacket sealed in loose poly bag, with 2-page insert and a 180 gram record in a premium poly inner sleeve.

The only possible improvement to this album now would be to split it over a double 45RPM set using this DCC master, and create a gatefold with era photos & notes from the studio.  There's no reason this shouldn't get an amazing deluxe vinyl treatment like Fleetwood Mac's Rumors.

Van Halen online.

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