Van Halen – Zero (2002)

VanHalen_Zero4.5 out of 5 Stars!

Originally recorded back in 1976, two years before Van Halen officially burst onto the scene with its debut album, this ten-song “demo” (produced and financed by Kiss’s Gene Simmons) includes higher-energy versions of four tracks that would appear years later on several of the band’s Warner Bros. releases—”On Fire” and “Runnin’ With the Devil” from the debut album, “Somebody Get Me a Doctor” from the band’s sophomore album, and “House of Pain,” which would eventually pop up on 1984. Each of these tracks are slightly different than the versions with which fans are familiar, not only when it comes to tempos, but also with alternate lyrics and solos, or even added verses or bridges.

The remaining six tracks are rare and unreleased, with one called “Woman in Love” (not the same tune that appeared on the second album, however, but a driving rocker instead). And speaking of which, the other unreleased tunes—”She’s The Woman,” “Let’s Get Rockin’,” “Big Trouble,” “Baby, Don’t Leave Me Alone,” and “Put Out the Lights”—all fall into that “driving rockers” category. Indeed, some of these tunes are actually superior to a handful of tracks Van Halen released on its official albums, which were also quite short in length anyway, barely reaching the thirty-minute mark. So why the band elected not to slide a few of these shelved tunes onto Women and Children First, or Diver Down, etc. is a mystery.

Anyway, for fans of early Van Halen, this is certainly a collection of riches beyond compare. In my opinion, Zero is definitely one of the best Van Halen albums of all time, featuring the lean, mean, and hungry classic lineup before they were stars!

Album Currently Unavailable At Amazon