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Guitar World Magazine Staff (various)
Guitar World Presents: Van Halen (Book Review)
February 2014
Released: 2010, Backbeat Books
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: JP

In January, 2014 I bought two books in a series called Guitar World Presents. In my reviews I gently teased the magazine for being lazy and just reprinting old material in book form. Seeing as these two books (Metallica and Van Halen) are virtually identical in execution, layout and design, I somewhat hypocritically did the same thing and duplicated large parts of my review word for word to avoid having to think of different ways to say the same thing twice in a row. Some call it lazy, I call it effective time management. Enjoy!

There are certain books and book series that I consider lazy. This is one of them. Although lazy can have a negative connotation, it is not always a bad thing. Guitar World Magazine in conjunction with Backbeat Books has published a series of titles that are essentially reprinted articles from the magazine. While compiling previously available material is not the most creative or innovative way to write a book, these books are actually a great idea in my mind for a couple of reasons. One, it makes good business sense. Guitar World already owns the interviews and the means to reproduce them, why not capitalize on that fact? Secondly, it is really nice to have all the articles in one place, in one tidy package for fans.

The full title is GUITAR WORLD PRESENTS VAN HALEN and there are several books published by the esteemed magazine, and there are at least two other titles (to the best of my knowledge) in the series Stevie Ray Vaughn and Metallica. This is a nice looking paperback, 266 pages long but with very little in the way of frills. There are 14 black and white photos, one for each chapter. Cutting to the chase, this book is a reprinting of several interviews with Eddie Van Halen, ranging from 1978 to 2008. The major bonus chapters in this book are three rare interviews with Eddie conducted by Steve Rosen between 1978 and 1980. They are fascinating front line stuff from an age long ago. The other eleven interviews are reprints from the magazine. In my mind this rare material gives this book the major advantage over the Metallica book in the same series, which has no new material.

I can't really comment too much on the quality of the interviews. It would be like judging another persons phone conversation. Some of the questions are more insightful than others and the quality of the review will often be determined by how much the artists wants to say or reveal. Fortunately Eddie sees the value if interviews. They are not as entertaining as an interview with David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar but there are lots of interesting things he has to say. All I can say is if you are a fan you will want to read these long, in-depth interviews.

I don’t read Guitar World because I don’t play the instrument. To have all these articles in one book is a very appealing prospect for me because obviously I have never read any of these interviews before, except for maybe flipping through an issue while waiting in line at the grocery store.

If you are an older, long-time subscriber to the magazine you may have read all of these articles already and there may not be as much value for you. However, buying GUITAR WORLD PRESENTS VAN HALEN saves you from digging through those cardboard boxes in your basement and flipping through your old back issues again. You know, those boxes your wife keeps threatening to throw out because you haven’t read those dusty, old, rock magazines in 20 years? The ones you kept because maybe one day they might be worth something? Yeah, those ones. If you are a young fan and don’t know what a magazine is and can’t be bothered to download those old back issues onto your portable device, this book works as well. Everybody wins and Guitar World gets to resell the same interviews. Again.
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