Magic Mountain (Bottoms Up)
Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, California – October 1977
(56:55) On Fire, One More Time, Runnin’ With The Devil, Atomic Punk, Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love, Loss Of Control, No More Waiting, Eruption, Feel Your Love Tonight, Show Your Love(I’m The One), Summertime Blues, Angel Eyes, Take Your Whiskey Home, In A Simple Rhyme
Magic Mountain on the Bottoms Up label contains Van Halen’s show from Six Flags in October 1977 (apparently the exact date is unknown). The first ten tracks are the actual gig with the remainder being bonus tracks. This material has been previously released on a pro-CDR of the same title on The Atomic Punks label including the same bonus cuts. It was probably used as the source as the sound quality is identical with a very close running time.
The main show comes from a very good to excellent soundboard recording from just after the band got signed to Warner Bros. It can be a bit bass heavy at times but is really a small issue in regards to the excellent raw quality. The band sounds hungry and eager to take on the world and it wouldn’t be long after this that they would accomplish worldwide recognition. Aside from a smokin’ hot performance, the show has some nice surprises in store. Only seven of the ten tracks from Six Flags would actually be included on their debut LP with a couple that will remain unreleased.
With the intensity that Van Halen brought to the live stage I imagine anybody that saw the band for the first time back then would have been floored from the start. “On Fire” opens the set and includes an interesting short solo not in the final studio version. “One More Time” follows with a great solo from Ed and some nice background harmonies. The song remains an unreleased track to this day but had all the characteristics of early VH and could have easily fit on either of the first two records.
“Dr. Dave” greets the audience after “Runnin’ With The Devil” and leads the band into “Atomic Punk” with his “Nobody rules these streets at night but me” rap. “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” is played slower and certainly looser with a couple variations in the lyrics and lacks some of the energy from later versions.
This tape also contains the first known reference to “Loss Of Control”. Dave injects a bit more melody in the verses. Other than that it features a very similar arrangement to the version that will come out a few years later on Woman And Children First. “Show No Mercy” is titled “No More Waiting” on the cover and is also a rarity from this time period. The intro for this was later used on “Take Me Back (Déjà vu) on the Balance record as stated on the inside panel.
“Eruption” tears the roof off but still lacks the familiar tapping section at the end that would make the solo famous. This leads directly into “Feel Your Love Tonight”. An abrupt cut in the tape edits out any time between this and “I’m The One” luckily without any loss of music.
“Summertime Blues” comes from an unknown audience source and is good quality aside from some bass distortion. They tack on a great “raw” VH style jam to the end where Eddie can be heard referencing some licks from Black Sabbath “Symptom Of The Universe” around the 4:08 mark.
“Angel Eyes” is supposedly from 1974 according to the liner notes. This is an acoustic studio demo from Roth. It is also believed that Roth played all the guitars on this version and Eddie was quoted in an interview about the second album that this was once considered for Van Halen II.
The final two tracks are early demos that would both turn up again during the recording for their third record, Woman And Children First. These are very early demo versions in excellent quality and are a very interesting listen to say the least. It is possible they are from circa 1974 and may or may not have Michael Anthony on bass.
Most of this material is making its silver debut and is essential for any VH collector. It comes in a very nice looking albeit very thin piece of cardboard wrapped around a clear plastic digi tray and is pressed on a nice quality picture disc.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)