Great Metal Albums of 1980: Van Halen- Women and Children First

220px-Van_Halen_-_Women_and_Children_First

Another offering from the American side of heavy metal came in the form of the third album from Van Halen. (Although you could say that this was a Dutch-American collaboration since the Van Halen brothers were originally from the Netherlands.) Still what we got in 1980 was “Women and Children First.” Now, my alternate mindset is hearing some collective scoffs and sighs from some of you and I know why. In comparison to Van Halen’s first two albums, this one doesn’t compare. However, if you can divorce yourself from those iconic first two albums and look at “Women and Children First” on its own, you may find that it’s really not that bad of an album.

For me, the two best tracks are the first two songs on the album: “And the Cradle Will Rock” and “Everybody Wants Some,” the latter being a concert favourite for several albums after. The former song was the one stuck in my mind for most of my first tour of sea duty and it helped get me through it. The spoken David Lee Roth part of the latter: “I like the way the line runs up the back of your stocking” amuses me to this day. While they may be the two strongest tracks, the album doesn’t end there. The next song, “Fools” begins with the traditional guitar work that made Eddie Van Halen the principal guitarist back then. The next track “Romeo’s Delight” reminds of some of the classic rockers that we got from the first two albums and continues through the next two tracks. While “Take Your Whiskey Home” seems to be an attempt to re-create my all time favourite Van Halen song, “Ice Cream Man,” it’s still a good jam. However, and this is where things fall down, in my view. The acoustic track “Could This Be Magic?” where the only female singer ever let on a Van Halen album, Nicolette Larson, provides backing vocals. I love a good acoustic jam but this song had me asking myself: “Are they taking the p*ss here?” Still one questionable track does not make a bad album and it redeems itself with the closing song.

In short, except for that one possible track, there is nothing for me to dislike on “Women and Children First.” David Lee Roth sings to his capabilities, Eddie shows the world that he still has a trick or two up his sleeve on the guitar, and Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony still prove why many people back then considered them to be the best rhythm section around at the time.

Track Listing:

1. And The Cradle Will Rock

2. Everybody Wants Some

3. Fools

4. Romeo’s Delight

5. Tora Tora!

6. Loss of Control

7. Take Your Whiskey Home

8. Could This Be Magic?

9. In a Simple Rhyme

10. Growth (Hidden track)

Van Halen

Van Halen

   David Lee Roth- lead vocals

Eddie Van Halen- guitars, backing vocals

Michael Anthony- bass, backing vocals

Alex Van Halen- drums

It is tough for any act to follow up on a great album so imagine how difficult it is two follow up on two. With “Women and Children First,” Van Halen make a valiant effort and while it may night reach the dizzy heights of the first two, it is still a good album and should be seen as such.

Next post: Saxon- Wheels of Steel

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

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11 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1980: Van Halen- Women and Children First”

  1. I’m not a big VH fan but this is my favourite one by far.

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  2. It’s not my favourite but I prefer it to VHII. Fair Warning and 1984 are high water marks for me personally.

    But I like WACF a lot. Could This Be Magic sounds so drunken…I felt a buzz just listening to it. Everybody Wants Some!! and Cradle Will Rock, Take Your Whiskey…so good. If I had to pick a personal weak song it would be Loss of Control. It might be just a bit over the top for me.

    Also: One of their best album covers.

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  3. It would be a fantastic album for any other band, however this is Van Halen……….

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  4. Ummmm put on the bulletproof vest! This my fav all time album period! The rawness ,songs everything clicked with it for me when I bought it back in 1980 as a 13 yr old. Sure there’s arguments in my case of this being my uno número but man where my head was at the time coming off the fluff of late 70s Kiss and getting smacked outside the head with the Ed&Dave show was sumthin new ….

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  5. I didn’t ever bother checking out Van Halen becuase I mistakenly thought they were an 80s synth band (long story).

    I remember on Annihilator’s second most recent album there was a cover version of ‘Romeo Delight’ which is still to this day my go-to feel good song.

    Because of Romeo Delight, this album actually sits higher in my favourite Van Halen albums list than the second album.

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