Limited to 12,000 numbered copies, pressed on dead-quiet MoFi SuperVinyl at RTI, and mastered from the original analog master tapes, Mobile Fidelity's ultra-hi-fi UltraDisc One-Step 180g 45RPM 2LP collector's edition pays tribute to the record's merit and allows fans to experience Van Halen's original blend of raw power, Hollywood flair, and vaudeville fun for generations to come. Playing with reference-setting sonics that elevate a 10-times-platinum landmark whose importance cannot be quantitatively measured, this definitive version provides a clear, clean, transparent, balanced, and turn-the-volume-up-to-11 view of an album that birthed entirely new styles. Since MoFi's unique SuperVinyl compound allows you to crank the decibels to your wildest desires without risking noise-floor interference, prepare to not only hear but feel Van Halen in your chest, no fifth-row concert seat necessary.
The premium packaging and gorgeous presentation of the UD1S Van Halen pressing befit its extremely select status. Housed in a deluxe slipcase, it features special foil-stamped jackets and faithful-to-the-original graphics that illuminate the splendor of the recording. No expense has been spared. Aurally and visually, this UD1S reissue exists as a curatorial artifact meant to be preserved, touched, and examined. It is made for discerning listeners that prize sound quality and production, and who desire to fully immerse themselves in the art – and everything involved with the album, from the iconic cover art to the meticulous finishes and, yes, of course, Eddie Van Halen's pioneering fretwork and his brother Alex's double-bass percussion.
Indeed, could a piece of music that transformed how countless guitarists approached their instrument be more fittingly named than "Eruption"? Likely not, and in just 102 seconds, Eddie Van Halen rewrote, reimagined, and reconfigured a vocabulary last significantly updated a decade earlier by fellow six-string wizard Jimi Hendrix. Akin to the Washington State legend, Eddie Van Halen developed his own techniques and tones all the while making his seismic accomplishments seem effortless. Devoid of the pretense, ego, and showiness that infected many of his imitators, the Dutch native sticks to a straightforward approach that underlines the authority, prowess, and visionary scope of his playing and then-unheard-of finger-tapping skills. Throughout Van Halen, he establishes himself as an instant idol – a savant whose otherworldly combination of breadth, poise, feel, speed, force, and melody seems beamed in from another galaxy.
As does nearly every song on the record, whose cohesiveness and dynamic put into perspective the advanced chemistry and one-for-all spirit the youthful band had out of the gates. Having paid its dues for years in bars and clubs – going as far as recording a 24-track demo for Kiss bassist Gene Simmons at Village Recorders only to be spurned by management companies that felt its music wouldn't go anywhere – Van Halen finally got a deserved break when Warner Bros. executives signed the group in 1977. The subsequent recording sessions further testify on behalf of the band's synergy and alignment. Completed in just a few weeks with producer Ted Templeman, Van Halen was primarily cut live in the studio with minimal overdubs and edits. The explosiveness, energy, and electricity remain definitive, and as heard on this UD1S set, put the group on a private stage – humming amplifiers, Frankenstrat guitar, bright spotlights, sweaty headbands, and then some.
Van Halen yielded just one hit in the form of a Top 40 single (a breathless cover of the Kinks' "You Really Got Me") but practically every song on the revered LP has become a staple. Named the 202nd Greatest Album of All Time by Rolling Stone and considered by countless experts as one of the best debuts in history, the record displays what can happen with four distinct talents gel and strive for the same purposes. In Van Halen's case, the latter almost always involved partying, freedom, sex, and, in the immortal words of singer David Lee Roth, living "life like there's no tomorrow." The celebration manifests from the opening notes of the strutting "Runnin' with the Devil" – announced with the blare of droning car horns, Michael Anthony's robust bass line, and Alex Van Halen's thumping drumming – and continues through the conclusion of the white-hot "On Fire," goosed by Eddie Van Halen's race-track-ready lines, Roth's flamboyant deliveries, and the rhythm section's cat-like pounce.
Picking out individual highlights on Van Halen is akin to trying to count all the stars in a clear nighttime desert sky: There are far too many to identify, once you see one you notice another dozen you didn't spot before, and the cluster is best enjoyed as a whole. What's evident over repeat listens is the sheer diversity, a fact that's often overlooked: The high harmonies and background funk of "Jamie's Cryin'"; the insistent cane-and-a-tophat shuffle and doo-wop shoo-bop vocal break on "I'm the One"; the throwback acoustic blues that spreads into fast-paced, single-entendre wildfire on the Roth-led standout interpretation of John Brim's "Ice Cream Man." Like the man says, on Van Halen, all the flavors are guaranteed to satisfy.
More About Mobile Fidelity UltraDisc One-Step and Why It Is Superior
Instead of utilizing the industry-standard three-step lacquer process, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab's new UltraDisc One-Step (UD1S) uses only one step, bypassing two processes of generational loss. While three-step processing is designed for optimum yield and efficiency, UD1S is created for the ultimate in sound quality. Just as Mobile Fidelity pioneered the UHQR (Ultra High-Quality Record) with JVC in the 1980s, UD1S again represents another state-of-the-art advance in the record-manufacturing process. MFSL engineers begin with the original master recordings, painstakingly transfer them to DSD 256, and meticulously cut a set of lacquers. These lacquers are used to create a very fragile, pristine UD1S stamper called a "convert." Delicate "converts" are then formed into the actual record stampers, producing a final product that literally and figuratively brings you closer to the music. By skipping the additional steps of pulling another positive and an additional negative, as done in the three-step process used in standard pressings, UD1S produces a final LP with the lowest noise floor possible today. The removal of the additional two steps of generational loss in the plating process reveals tremendous amounts of extra musical detail and dynamics, which are otherwise lost due to the standard copying process. Every conceivable aspect of vinyl production is optimized to produce the most perfect record album available today.
Developed by NEOTECH and RTI, MoFi SuperVinyl is the most exacting-to-specification vinyl compound ever devised. Analog lovers have never seen (or heard) anything like it. Extraordinarily expensive and extremely painstaking to produce, the special proprietary compound addresses two specific areas of improvement: noise floor reduction and enhanced groove definition. The vinyl composition features a new carbonless dye (hold the disc up to the light and see) and produces the world's quietest surfaces. This high-definition formula also allows for the creation of cleaner grooves that are indistinguishable from the original lacquer. MoFi SuperVinyl provides the closest approximation of what the label's engineers hear in the mastering lab.