Van Halen’s self-titled debut was released 41 years ago (February 10.) The album contains some of VH’s most-enduring tracks, from “Runnin’ With The Devil” to “Eruption.” However, upon its released, it was torn apart by Rolling Stone.
It’s no secret that some of Rolling Stone‘s reviews haven’t aged as well as the albums they slammed. Fortunately for Van Halen, it’s in good company when it comes to other debut albums in rock history. In honor of the release anniversary of Van Halen, here are five classic debut albums panned by Rolling Stone.
Van Hallen – Van Halen I
Charles M. Young declared in the first sentence of his review on Van Halen’s debut, “Mark my words: in three years, Van Halen is going to be fat and self-indulgent and disgusting, and they’ll follow Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin right into the toilet.”
It’s pretty safe to say that Charles was a little off in his prediction.
AC/DC – High Voltage
Billy Altman wrote that with the release of AC/DC’s debut, the hard rock genre “unquestionably hit its all-time low.” On top of that, “Lead singer Bon Scott spits out his vocals with a truly annoying aggression which, I suppose, is the only way to do it when all you seem to care about is being a star so that you can get laid every night.”
And what’s so wrong with that?!
Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced?
It’s difficult to imagine anyone saying anything negative about the Jimi Hendrix Experience, but Jon Landau found a way. While Landau praised songs like “Purple Haze,” “Hey Joe” and “The Wind Cries Mary,” he wrote of the rest of the album, “Everything else is insane and simply a matter of either you dig it or you don’t. Basically, I don’t for several reasons. Despite Jimi’s musical brilliance and the group’s total precision, the poor quality of the songs and the inanity of the lyrics too often get in the way.”
Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin I
John Mendelsohn spent the bulk of his review comparing Zeppelin to the Jeff Beck Group. Mendelsohn saved his harshed critique for Jimmy Page calling him “a very limited producer and a writer of weak, unimaginative songs” and that “the Zeppelin album suffers from his having both produced it and written most of it (alone or in combination with his accomplices in the group.)”
It’s a good thing Jimmy improved a little in the writing department, right?
Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
Lester Bangs tore Sabbath a new one in his review on their debut writing, “The whole album is a shuck…the album has nothing to do with spiritualism, the occult, or anything much except stiff recitations of Cream cliches that sound like the musicians learned them out of a book, grinding on and one with dogged persistence…The even have discordant jams with bass and guitar reeling like velocitized speedfreaks all over each other’s musical perimeters yet never quite finding synch – just like Cream! But worse.”
Bangs may have been lauded as “America’s greatest rock critic,” but we’re sure there are plenty disagree with his assessment here.
Erica Banas is rock/classic rock news blogger that loves the smell of old vinyl in the morning.