Van Halen uber-fan Chris Gossett has amassed a huge library of rare and unreleased Van Halen material spanning the band’s career from 1976 to 2009. Posted in its entirety on his website, the 75 or so items include a complete concert from 2008 with Eddie’s son Wolfgang playing bass. The material also includes tunes from ‘The Van Halen Circle’ – including Sammy Hagar, The Waboritas and Chickenfoot -plus some extremely rare tracks with Eddie jamming with Roger Waters and Patty Smyth. Gossett claims that nearly all the tracks are not only unreleased but will have been unheard by 99 per cent of listeners.
A quick peruse of the tracks reveals a live recording of Led Zeppelin’s Trampled Underfoot, David Lee Roth covering Hendrix’s Crosstown Traffic and Humble Pie’s Keep Playing That Rock and Roll as well as a feast of VH favourites like Runnin’ with the Devil, Everybody Wants Some and Jump. Sound quality varies from raw and ragged early live recordings to the pristine audio of the later works. Eddie is untypically restrained on the Roger Waters collaboration, Lost Boys Calling, but is on blistering form everywhere else. Thankfully, there aren’t half a dozen versions of Eruption, in fact I couldn’t even find one.
Fans of the band will be in raptures with this unprecedented release but even if for you, Van Halen’s brand of rock holds only a passing interest, it’s still fascinating stuff.