Popoff, Martin-Van Halen: A Visual Biography (Book review)

Spread the metal:

Reviewed: January 2021
Released: 2020, Wymer Publishing
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: JP

Let’s get one thing out the way, right now.   VAN HALEN: A VISUAL BIOGRAPHY was written, and just about to roll off the press before the unexpected death of Eddie Van Halen.   Things came to a screeching halt just in time and Popoff quickly assembled a few words and he speaks to the timing of the unfortunate scenario in his introduction. So let’s put an end to that silly little rumour that this new book is a quick cash-grab designed to capitalize on the situation.  The timing of this publication is in fact both perfect and tragic but unavoidable.  This is in fact Martin Popoff’s second book about Van Halen, following the release of UNCHAINED: A VAN HALEN USERS MANUAL, just a few years back.

It seems the good people at Wymer Press are kind of picking up the slack when Voyaguer Press stopped doing all those really sweet, Illustrated, history, coffee table books. Like the band, the book is big, bright and beautiful.  All 226 pages are full colour, glossy hard cover and fully loaded and ready to dance the night away, hampered maybe only by a mildly uninspired title.

After his heartfelt introduction we are off to the races, and Popoff takes us on an incredible, pictorial journey of the band.  Each era/chapter is preceded by some pithy observations and the book is littered with anecdotes, highlights and important milestones (and there are many!) on the Van Halen career timeline. Want to know when MCMLXXIV went platinum? It is here.  Want to know the exact date Van Halen won the Grammy for F.U.C.K.?  It’s here too.  It’s all here. It is clear Popoff, is a true and loyal fan.

Visually, this book is magnificent.  It is loaded with live shots, promo shots, ticket stubs, memorabilia, singles, quotes, backstage passes and more. It really is a gorgeous tribute.  There is not really too much more I can say. This is pretty much the ultimate tribute to one of the greatest Hard Rock bands of all time. Not too long, not too deep and analytical, not too dark and heavy, just fun and damn, were they a fun band for all those years. VAN HALEN: A VISUAL BIOGRAPHY checks all the right boxes and is designed for nostalgia and dipping into over and again.

Only a fool would complain about an embarrassment of riches and books like these are worth their weight in gold, however, I think I’m running out of space ton my bookcases to keep all these killer, over-sized, hard cover, coffee-table book that Popoff keeps making! Only 1000 of the hard cover were made and with awareness of Van Halen perhaps at a high this year in light of the passing of Eddie, you better grab yours…right now.