Mastered from the original analog tapes, pressed on MoFi SuperVinyl, and limited to 10,000 copies, Mobile Fidelity's UltraDisc One-Step 180g 45RPM 2LP set of Van Halen II lets it all hang out. Never before has the five-times-platinum record sounded as close to Van Halen's original intent — that of music recorded live in one big room, Marshall amplifiers turned all the way up, and resonating with the purity, excitement, and interaction of three instruments and voices. 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 II in your chest.
Every aspect of this 2LP edition veritably takes you to Sunset Sound Recorders and lets you watch Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, Michael Anthony, and David Lee Roth as they rip through the songs in just a few takes. Created with minimal overdubs and afforded massive dynamics, air-moving energy, and palpable solidity on this audiophile edition, Van Halen II is rock 'n' roll at its most direct, straightforward, taut, and electric. Every track pulses with what Eddie Van Halen once referred to as a "vibe, feeling, and pocket" that only these four individuals could establish and maintain.
The premium packaging and gorgeous presentation of the UD1S Van Halen II pressing befit its select status. Housed in a deluxe box, it features special foil-stamped jackets and faithful-to-the-original graphics that illuminate the splendor of the recording. Aurally and visually, this UD1S reissue is made for discerning listeners who prize sound quality and production, and who desire to fully immerse themselves in everything involved with the album, from the cover art to the meticulous finishes and, naturally, Eddie Van Halen's transformative playing and his brother Alex's pugilist-ready percussion.
Indeed, if ever there was an indication of the spirit and enthusiasm ready to leap from a record's grooves, it's the photo montage that originally graced the LP's back cover. Captured in mid-flight, legs splayed so wide the tips of his feet approach the height of his shoulders, Roth somehow still clutches the microphone stand all the while remaining unconcerned with how his body could possibly stick a safe landing — especially since he's wearing Capezio dance shoes. The reward for his to-hell-with-consequences stunt: A broken foot and a classic inner-sleeve shot of him standing, cane in hand, as attending nurses come to his aid.
Roth and his mates approach every cut on Van Halen II with like-minded vibrancy, animation, humor, and bravado. Featuring more subtleties than the group's powerhouse debut, and fuller and smoother tones, the material reflects Van Halen's soaring confidence and standout musicianship. Van Halen II also puts a brighter spotlight on the still-underrated abilities of Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony, both of whom stand on equal footing with their more celebrated colleagues. Not that Eddie Van Halen or Roth take a breather.
Introduced with a clinking cowbell and pneumatic riffs that seemingly float on air, the irresistibly catchy and feel-good sway "Dance the Night Away" serves as a benchmark of the one-for-all, all-for-one mentality behind Van Halen II. Arena-bound hooks and pop melodies also emerge on "Beautiful Girls," a hit whose upbeat sound mirrors its subject matter — and which crystallizes the band's unique blend of surf-and-sun California temperament and virtuosic technicality. Roth's rhymed couplets, shoobee-doobee harmonies, and shuck-and-jive deliveries make evident his expert showmanship and desire to entertain. In a brilliant move, the tune also frames the group's famed debauchery and sexual swagger in understated fashion.
There's nothing downplayed about the crunchy, swinging, high-times-are-here-again rush of "Somebody Get Me a Doctor," whose thick, leathery guitar foundation and freewheeling solo — which earns Eddie Van Halen applause from his cohorts — reflect the non-commercial overdrive and progressive force that define a majority of Van Halen II. For further evidence, cue up the rhythmic stop-and-start conflagration that is "Light up the Sky" and dive-bombing "D.O.A." The latter comes complete with blazing Eddie Van Halen passages whose mean-streak attitude is in line with the song's punk-reared thrust, outlaw blues, and fugitive mood.
Van Halen II also proves the band reached a crucial point where it could both crack jokes and laugh at itself. See "Women in Love…," prefaced by Eddie Van Halen's clean and gentle harmonic-based intro, and boogie-laden "Bottoms Up!," riding atop Alex Van Halen's bounding percussion and the group's trademark splashy harmonies. You can hear the laughter and practically see Roth and Anthony losing it as Eddie Van Halen launches six-string rockets into outer space.
In a turn of pace, the guitarist picked up a nylon-stringed Ovation acoustic to record "Spanish Fly." Every bit as revolutionary and dizzying as "Eruption" on Van Halen, the instrumental finds him channeling flamenco strains into what Roth properly called "a wall socket. In the middle it sounds like someone speeded up the album to 45 all the sudden, but this guy does it live." That he did, Diamond Dave. That he did.
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.