"The VAN HALEN Story: The Early Years", chronicles the rise of four young musicians from their formative years to their transformation into a worldwide phenomenon. Hear the group's gripping tale told by the people who wer... more »e there when it all began childhood friends, fellow musicians, roadies, bodyguards, producers, and the band themselves. Rare footage and never-before-seen photos help to further document their remarkable story.« less
Focus on the very early years; satisfactory documentary
J. Lizzi | Costa Mesa, CA | 09/06/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is a documentary about one of the greatest rock bands ever, Van Halen, beginning with each member's early musical years and ending with the departure of David Lee Roth in 1985. It's a cool story, augmented by lots of interesting photos and some rare film footage. The finished product is unfortunately plagued by portions of bad sound and amateurish filming (alas, not as polished as VH-1's "Behind the Music") but with a run time of 70 minutes, there's a lot that's worth watching.
The best part about the presentation of the Van Halen story is the diversity of people who were interviewed for this documentary: childhood friends, fellow band members, other musicians, roadies, bodyguards, and record producers. Some of their stories are outrageous (hey, it's rock 'n' roll after all!) and are thus a blast to contemplate. Since the focus is strictly on the early years of the group, there was much I didn't know concerning who played in the original band, who did the early vocals (Eddie), how the guys met, and how Van Halen's stage act progressed and was influenced by David Lee (who adopted much of his stage persona from Black Oak Arkansas' "Jim Dandy" Mangrum, who appears on this disc!).
Somewhat disappointing, you hear very little of the band's popular tunes (a snippet of "Eruption" does pop up at one point). I'm guessing that this is because there may have been a copyright issue. Another negative is that a significant portion of the commentary provided by Alex and Michael is via phone interview, and the sound leaves a bit to be desired. Also, there's one part where Gene Simmons' voice is practically unintelligible due to poor sound quality. Unfortunate perhaps, but it adds to the "underground" feel of the video.
If you're a fan of Van Halen specifically (count me in), or great rock bands in general, see how this story compares to the others you know. I'm hoping that there will more discs in this series to cover the rest of the band's history. "
GREAT story of the early years of Mammoth aka Van Halen
J. Lizzi | 11/08/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Amazing documentary about the formative years of the best rock and roll band ever. The DVD covers Alex and Edward's early years playing with small garage bands, all the years with David Lee Roth, and concentrates mostly on the club days and the first world tour. The is about as good as a documentary could possibly be without the band's involvement. Interviews with many people who were very close to the band. These people are inverviewed extensively:
* Mark Stone - Original VH bass player whom Michael Anthony replaced
* Andy Johns - Legendary record producer
* Eddie Anderson - Roth's former body guard & manager
* Gregg Emerson - VH drum technician and childhood friend
* Jim Dandy - One of Roth's prototypes. Roth was compared to him in the club days
* Neil Zlozower - Original VH photographer & partner in crime
* Dave Weiderman - long-time manager of The Guitar Center in L.A.
* Tom Broderick - VH's soundman in 1978
* Kim Fowley - Sunset Strip concert promoter - booked the band into the Whisky a Go-Go
* Jeff Hausman - Creator of "The Inside" Van Halen magazine & VanHalenStore.com
* Susan Masino - Survived VH's stay at the Sheraton Hotel, 1978
* Mike Levine - (Triumph) talking about playing the US Festival with VH
* Ron Wikso - drummer with DLR around 1994
* Dennis Neugebauer- good friend of DLR's in the high school days
* Mario Maglieri - owner of the Whisky a Go-Go
* Doug Anderson - shows his Van Halen Museum
* Roger Rennick - saw VH play at various backyard parties
* Mike Kelly - VH historian who attended most of their Starwood and Whisky shows
* Tony Codgen - guitarist from Michael's original band, Snake
* Plus exclusive interview footage with David Lee Roth & Eddie Van Halen! (Note: these two interviews were not conducted for this DVD, they were filmed a few years ago, but they are exclusive interviews and they fit in nicely). Narrated by J.J. Jackson from MTV fame. PLUS vintage audio interviews with: * Alex Van Halen
* Michael Anthony
* Gene Simmons NEVER SEEN PHOTOS!
Rare stills will be seen for the first time from Mark Stone, Tom Broderick, Gregg Emerson, Eddie Anderson, Norman Seeff (who took lots of amazing shots taken from the Woman and Children First album cover sessions), Robert Alford and more. The documentary is loaded with Kick A** rock music. Plus there are two short bonus segments; footage of The Atomic Punks (most popular VH tribute band) and Doug Anderson shows his VH Museum."
A great look beneath the surface of the formation
J. Lizzi | 12/09/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As all Van Halen fans know, they (the brothers) haven't surfaced in many years- there have been no documentaries, VH1 programs, DVD's or anything about the band because both they and Warner Brothers are uncooperative to this sort of thing. I have to commend the makers of this DVD for accepting that fact and still creating a compelling, fast-moving and fun to watch DVD which is completely LOADED with RARE PHOTOS by the way. By finding old childhood friends and roadies of the band they have unearthed a treasure trove of candid photos, alternative album cover shots, backstage passes, old Pasadena and Hollywood flyers, etc. I have NEVER seen any photos of Edward and Alex playing with Mark Stone as MAMMOTH- yet this DVD has photos of them as well as flyers!. This isn't your typical record company authorized VH1 type show- but it is excellent in it's own right as an alternative, believe me you will hear stories coming from those around the band in the early years that would probably never surface on any official show."
Nearly a good film, but not quite
David Lee Roth | England | 11/28/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"If you've ever seen Dogtown and the Z Boys, then you'll have an idea of what this documentary film could have been. That was a great movie about something else bubbling up from underneath in a part of Los Angeles in the 70's, this is a nearly movie set in almost the same time and same place. So, what's the problem? It's not as if there isn't enough good material to work at there, is it...I mean, Van Halen - the '70's, the 80's...Missing as usual are the principals - the Van Halen's, Mike Anthony, and Diamond Dave (although all are seen or heard using snippets of old material, in the case of Anthony, usually saying bad things about Roth). My guess is that most of the band are probably quite content to spoil their legacy (compare the way lesser talents like Aerosmith revived and prolonged their career, and how else do you explain the implosion of this band?). One of the most disappointing things about the film is that it features NO original Van Halen music, and barely any official footage of the band. The interviews with old friends and road crew and the like are all great - these are all interesting people who were there when it all came to fruition, and who have nice first-hand tales to tell. But the problem is that when the narration goes on about how revolutionary Eddie's sound was, or how mammoth the Us Festival in 83 was - there is really nothing there to show as examples. This is a pity, and again, my guess is that whoever gives permission for Van Halen music and material to be used is quite content to let the memory of the band fall to pieces. It's a pity, because there is a great story here.
What we get in the film centers around the early days for the most part (the period from Van Halen II to 1984 is gone over in a zip). The material they do use, is used pretty well. It's good to see a lot of the old photos and other visual material - again used a bit like similar material in the Dogtown movie.What a pity that Van Halen are such an uncooperative bunch...if you compare them to any of their contemporaries from the era covered in this movie (early 70's to 1984), you never hear them. Van Halen stuff never appears anywhere, in anything other than the format in which it was it originally came out. What I'd say to Van Halen, if they care, is look at what Jimmy Page has done with Led Zeppelin - another defunct, but not forgotten band. Can Van Halen say the same? Buy this, and remember what was - and think about what could have been."
Far too much missing.
Mr Honesty | Boston | 07/29/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Van Halen interviews are rare nowadays. I guess the band no longer needs publicity to market themselves anymore. This Early Years DVD lacks too much in my opinion. The backing music for starters, should be VH. You can't to a documentary about a band and use somebody else's music. The interviews with the outsiders on the road with the band were interesting, but I don't believe the wild antics of the band are of that much interest to the fans anymore. Hell raisers like Ozzy and such like will always have better stories than these guys. The slide show of pictures, were of no real interest to me personally. The diet of the band was of no interest. The video clips were always being cut. A lot of these full clips can be found on Kazaa. Overall I think the makers of this DVD should have used more of the old TV interviews with the band from the early Eighties. Roth used to always be on TV. The Whiskey stuff was interesting. The museum was a little limp, but memorbilia is hard to come by these days. The Atomic Punks interview was nothing special. I just don't understand why this band doesn't attempt to write some of their own material! Overall, too much missing. Add the music, add some proper interviews. Add some full clips of concert footage. Add some other better known musicians to give their opinions, i.e. some of the better known guitarists out there to date. Go into Eddie's playing with a bit more depth. I could go on and on."