RXTT's Top Ten VAN HALEN Deep Cuts

There was once a band from southern California that somehow combined precision heavy riffs, complex melodic harmonics, and the infectious party enthusiasm of a 16 year old at their first kegger.  That band was Van Halen. (For the purposes of this post, and for my own sanity, I will not be delving into the "Van Hagar" era after the departure of Diamond Dave.)

Everyone who likes rock music knows their big hits, and boy were they big, but Van Halen was never a band that padded their albums with trifling shit and third-class songs.  Some of the most inventive guitar-work and amazing tracks can be found digging deep in the albums.  Here are my ten favorite.

VAN HALEN - Girl Gone Bad
(This track off of the album 1984 starts off with those sweet overtone harmonics that Eddie Van Halen was so righteously famous for.  It then kicks into a balls-to-the-wall rager with some amazing riffage.)

VAN HALEN - Unchained 
(From the album Fair Warning, this track starts off with a riff that I have yet to get over.  No matter how many times I see this video I always wish I was able to see Van Halen in their prime live.)


VAN HALEN - Beautiful Girls
(As the ultimate party band ever to exist, Van Halen had many tracks that were not face-melting guitar freakouts.  Songs like this one, with that sexy-ass swing, helped Diamond Dave entertain the fans just as much as the guitar wizardry of Eddie.  These lines basically define Dave's persona, "Now, I'm a seaside sittin'/ just a smokin' and a drinkin'/ I'm ringside / on top of the world / I got a drink in my hand / I got my toes in the sand / All I need is a beautiful girl")

VAN HALEN - Drop Dead Legs
(Speaking of FAT riffs, the one that anchors this sultry track is one of my faves.  That "brown" sound that Eddie worked up through his guitar effects was amazing. Everyone tried to copy it, and diluted its impact.)

VAN HALEN - Somebody Get Me a Doctor (In the midst of all the hard riffs and drums and screams the guitar does a great mimic of a chugging locomotive, something that harks back to old country blues tradition, where the rhythm of the guitar was to mimic the rhythm of the old steam trains.  Love the various changes in it, and Diamond Dave can be heard cheering Eddie on in his bad-assery!)

(Van Halen's 2nd album has so many amazing riff-heavy rockers.  The sound you hear at the beginning of this track is the sound of the RAWK GAWDS announcing their presence.  Love how this track gets faster and faster and faster...)

VAN HALEN - Little Guitars
(The Van Halens were classically trained musicians at a very young age, who switched over to guitar and drums the better to rock us all.  From time to time Eddie would show off his classical guitar techniques, such as the intro to this track.  This track off of Diver Down is fun AF and melodic and just beautiful.)

VAN HALEN - Hang 'Em High
(A rager from the word GO.  Everything blasts forth.)

VAN HALEN - House of Pain
(Not many Van Halen tracks can be categorized purely as Heavy Metal.  This track from their mega-hit 1984 album contrasts wildly with the more pop-melodic hits like Jump and Panama.  SO AWESOME.  SO HEAVY.)

VAN HALEN - I'll Wait
(One of the albums I would listen to on my Walkman headphones while mowing the lawn as a kid was 1984, and this track started off side 2, so when I would flip the cassette, I knew I was gonna go off in my head.)

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