‘Runnin’ with the Devil’ by Noel Monk and Joe Layden – Book Review

Runnin’ with the Devil: A Backstage Pass to the Wild Times, Loud Rock, and the Down and Dirty Truth Behind the Making of Van Halen by Joe Layden and Noel E. Monk…now that is a mouthful for a book title.  The book takes you on the journey of the David Lee Roth era of Van Halen and for some the true era of Van Halen.  The story is from the point of view of their Tour Manager and later Manager Noel E. Monk.

Before we get in to it, if you want to read a much better review of the book, go see my friend Deke at his blog as it was his review that made me get this when Amazon offered on the Kindle for only $2 (or was it $3)…either way it was cheap and worth that price.

The book picks up with Noel coming in as their tour manager for the tour supporting their incredible debut album ‘Van Halen’.  We don’t get any insight into the making of that album or really any album for that matter as Noel didn’t go to the studios while they were recording (or rarely ever did). We also don’t get any information on their forming or even their time with Gene Simmons which would have been nice, but again, this is not a band member telling the story and I had to get over that fact.

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The Debut: Van Halen – ‘Van Halen’

For my third installment of The Debut, I have decided to take on the daunting task of discussing on what is regarded as one of the best debut albums in rock history, Van Halen’s debut simply called ‘Van Halen’.  Why is it daunting? Because so many people have written about this album that there really is nothing I can add to the discussion other than my opinion which is probably no different than what has already been said.

We will start off with some general information about the album.  The album was released on February 10th, 1978.  I was only 9 at the time.  It was produced by Ted Templeman who was famous for producing The Doobie Brothers, Van Morrison and Montrose (early Sammy Hagar connection).  The album reached as high as only #19 on the charts and did sell over 1 million copies in its first year.  It has now been certified Diamond Status with sells well over 10 million copies.

The band was originally discovered by Gene Simmons from the band KISS.  Gene worked with the band and they did some demos, but nothing materialized as Gene headed back out on tour with his band.  The ended up playing a lot of live shows around Hollywood including the Whiskey A Go Go and the Starwood.  It was at the Starwood that they came to the attention of Mo Ostin & Ted Templeman with Warner Brothers Records.  They later signed with Warner and went on to record their debut album.

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