6. Montrose, 'Montrose'
In more than one way, this October 1973 debut album by former Edgar Winter Group guitarist Ronnie Montrose's namesake quartet was the start of the Van Halen story, five years ahead of schedule: a hard-rock cyclone built on a taut, muscular rhythm section, hot-rod hooks, the leader's supercharged effects-laden riffing and big, exuberantly macho lungs. Van Halen covered the last track on the original LP, "Make It Last," in their formative club sets; tapped Montrose producer Ted Templeman to do the honors on their first six albums; and, in 1985, hired original throat Sammy Hagar to replace David Lee Roth in large part because of Hagar's vocal impact and co-writing chops on Montrose. In his opening remarks to the April 1973 radio concert on the second disc here, KSAN-FM icon Tom Donahue isn't even sure the band has a name yet. Everything else – chops, songs, combined might – is roaring and ready. (Note to completists: Another crackin' KSAN broadcast from December '74 comes with a reissue of the second, less metallic Montrose LP, Paper Money.)