Van Halen fans were stunned this week when a previously unreleased take of “Runnin’ with the Devil,” complete with an extended guitar solo and an alternate David Lee Roth vocal, surfaced on YouTube.
“Van Halen Fans rejoice!” wrote YouTube user Groovefunkel Second Helping. “As a huge Van Halen fan, it gives me great pleasure to share this remix, which features an alternate ‘Diamond Dave’ vocal AND an extended guitar solo. Made from the original 24-track session masters.”
Three years ago, the same user shared an alternate take of “Dance the Night Away.” They just opened up the Groovefunkel Second Helping account and are promising more “alternate versions, instrumentals, stripped down session mixes, demo recordings and other rarities” in the future, or at least until the lawyers come knocking.
Most bands of Van Halen’s stature have re-released their older albums with bonus tracks. Their failure to do that has left not just a ton of money on the table, but it’s likely impelled fans to get their hands on the material through illicit means and share it publicly. The stuff is simply too interesting to too many people to collect dust in a vault. And the Universal fire is a frightening example of what can happen to tape archives that aren’t backed up anywhere.
Van Halen’s future touring and recording plans are just as unclear as their plans for their archive. David Lee Roth is playing a ton of solo dates this year as part of his Las Vegas residency and as an opening act for Kiss. He’s told the press that Van Halen is essentially finished, but the brothers have yet to comment publicly on any plans.
At the very least, how about deluxe editions of Van Halen I, Van Halen II and 1984? What exactly are you waiting for? You’re really going to let Groovefunkel Second Helping have all the fun?