Van Halen

Magic Mountain 1977

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When this bootleg was recorded live at Magic Mountain (a Southern California amusement park) in October 1977, Van Halen had yet to achieve international recognition. The headbangers were signed to Warner Bros at that point, although their self-titled debut album was still several months away. But while David Lee Roth and friends weren't ready to headline Madison Square Garden, the band had been creating a very strong buzz in Los Angeles and was quite capable of packing a small Hollywood club like the Starwood or the Whiskey a Go Go. Although the illicit Atomic Punks label describes Magic Mountain 1977 as a soundboard recording, the sound quality isn't great. VH's performance, however, is excellent. The Angelinos' set includes a lot gems that would become famous the following year (including "Running with the Devil," "On Fire," "Feel Your Love Tonight," "Atomic Punk," and "Ain't Talking 'Bout Love") as well as some rarities that collectors should be aware of. "One More Time" and "No More Waiting" are enjoyable songs that VH, for whatever reason, never recorded commercially, and equally rare are a few early demos that Atomic Punks offers as bonus tracks. Those demos include an early version of "Take Your Whiskey Home," the driving "In a Simple Rhyme," and the introspective "Angel Eyes," an acoustic, folk-influenced ballad that was never released commercially. Because of the ho-hum sound quality, casual listeners will want to pass on this CD. But collectors who are able to find a copy should grab it at once.