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Monday, November 15, 2010

Van Halen "Runnin' With The Devil" Demo

Here's an interesting little ditty from the 1976 Gene Simmons-produced Van Halen demo tapes. It's "Runnin' With The Devil" and it sounds surprisingly like the finished version that appeared on the band's first Ted Templeman-produced record for Warner Brothers (called appropriately "Van Halen").

Kiss's Gene Simmons saw the band play a gig at the now defunct Starwood club in Hollywood, financed and produced about 15 tracks, and then presented them to Casablanca (their record label at the time) who rejected them. He then had them play a showcase at SIR in New York for Bill Aucoin (Kiss's manager) who also thought they had no potential. Van Halen then came back to Hollywood, played the tapes for Warner Brothers, and the rest is history. The basics on the Simmon's demo were cut at Village Recorder in Los Angeles and the guitar solos and vocals at Electric Ladyland in New York.

Here's the little bit that I heard on the song that's different.
1) The delayed reverb on the guitar that became a Van Halen signature is missing.

2) David Lee Roth's delivery of the vocal doesn't swing as much.

3) The feel of the solo/bridge part is a lot different.

4) There's a hard ending as compared to a fade. (Actually, I got this one wrong.)

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Lou tambone said...

Great find. You're right about everything except that the album version also has a hard ending, pretty much the same as this one.

Derek said...

I might even prefer this demo version. Roth's vocals are clearer, for one thing, and the whole thing is more in-your-face because of the reduced reverb from the final album cut. Certainly it shows that Van Halen were already right on top of their game before they'd even started on their first disc.

JC said...

It's amazing what difference a little studio polish can make. This is pretty cool - but lacks the 1% extra they gave the other version. Is the signature lick left later in this version too? If you think of all the other demos they were competing with at the time it's not surprising they got overlooked - have you heard the Pasadena Civic desk boot from around '77? VH1 has that pumped up adrenalin that's missing here. But this is still pretty cool.


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