Van Halen

Atomic Punks

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When Van Halen's self-titled debut album of 1978 exploded commercially, bootleggers wasted no time putting out countless live LPs by the influential heavy metal/hard rock band. The sound quality of those illicit LPs varied considerably, ranging from horrible to decent to excellent. One of the best-sounding Van Halen bootlegs from the LP years was Atomic Punks, which was recorded live at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, CA, on December 20, 1977. The artwork is nothing special -- just a plain white LP jacket with a sheet of orange paper that gives you the basic information, and a black-and-white shot of David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen. But the sound quality is excellent (by 1977 standards), and the band is in fine form on such favorites as "Running With the Devil," "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love," "Somebody Get Me a Doctor," and "Atomic Punk." When this concert was recorded, those songs had yet to become internationally famous. Van Halen was signed to Warner Bros. and had an enthusiastic following in Los Angeles, but its first album had yet to be released, and not many headbangers outside of Southern California were hip to the band. "Somebody Get Me a Doctor," in fact, wasn't released commercially until Van Halen II came out in 1979. In those days, Van Halen bootlegs could be problematic -- they often failed to include recording dates and frequently had inferior sound quality. But collectors who were able to find this LP weren't disappointed.