1st Blitz Over Tokyo (Tarantura TCDVH – 1)
Koseinenkin-Kaikan Dai Hall, Tokyo, Japan – June 17, 1978
(67:06) Intro, On Fire, I’m The One, Bass Solo, Runnin’ With The Devil, Atomic Punk, Little Dreamer, Hang ‘Em High (Original Version titled “Last Night”), Feel Your Love Tonight, Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love, Ice Cream Man, Somebody Get Me A Doctor, Eruption, You Really Got Me, D.O.A., Bottoms Up
1st Blitz Over Tokyo from Tarantura documents a new source from Van Halen’s first tour of Japan. This comes from the Mr. Peach archives and is a good and at times very good sounding tape. It is a bit more distant than other tapes from his collection but captures guitar and vocals well. The Japanese audience claps along throughout some of the songs but is never enough to distract from the music.
To quote Hager from his comments on the announcement for this release: “It is not one of Mr. Peach’s best recordings. Given the exceptional quality of most of his archives, this means that the Van Halen tapes still are better than most others out there.” I fully agree.
An alternate source tape came out in 1999 on a pro-CDR from The Atomic Punks label on Live In Tokyo 1978. The new Mr. Peach source sounds closer to the stage and is overall louder in comparison. In addition to Tarantura being a newly discovered source, it also has the distinction of being the first silver pressed edition of this show. The Mr. Peach tape runs about 3% faster than The Atomic Punks.
During Van Halen’s first visit to Japan, their set featured everything from their debut album with the exception of “Jamie’s Cryin”, and a sneak peek at a few selections from Van Halen II.
The performance is everything we could expect from a hungry new band out to conquer the world. Eddie is absolutely mind blowing of course and the night is filled with inspired playing. Roth keeps it clean for the most part but still maintains that “party” attitude he is famous for.
“On Fire” and “I’m The One” are blistering openers and certainly enough to grab everyone’s attention. Eddie is obviously the star but the band certainly holds their own. Michael Anthony’s use of heavy distortion in his bass solo is a bunch of chaos and noise but effectively leads into the heavy thump of his opening notes to “Runnin’ With The Devil”. “Atomic Punk” runs non-stop with “Little Dreamer” during this tour.
A rare inclusion of “Last Night”, an early version of “Hang ‘Em High”, is played and was maybe being considered for Van Halen II at this point. It is musically similar to the version later re-tooled for Diver Down with a completely different set of lyrics.
The vocal harmonies really stand out during “Feel Your Love Tonight”. Their unique blend of voices was a huge part of the early sound and they are able to deliver live thanks to Anthony’s ultra high vocal range.
Roth gives the band a break for a minute and serenades the crowd on acoustic guitar for “Ice Cream Man”. An early arrangement of “Somebody Get Me A Doctor” follows with some extended soloing. They extend the guitar solo to double the length, something most VH fans wouldn’t complain about.
“Eruption” and “You Really Got Me” close out the main set to great applause. You can feel the anticipation build as the Japanese audience is rewarded with two more yet unreleased tracks with “D.O.A.” and “Bottoms Up”.
Tarantura packaged 1st Blitz Over Tokyo in a glossy gatefold paper sleeve with a shot of Mr. Peach’s master tape and ticket on the inside. The label has cleverly worked in the VH logo into the otherwise common photo used for the cover.
Although this may not hold up to the quality we have come to expect from most Mr Peach tapes, this is still an enjoyable and worthwhile addition for any VH collector. I look forward to any future Van Halen releases that Tarantura has to offer.