Review Summary: Have you seen Junior's grades?
In 1980, after two commercially and critically successful albums, Van Halen was on a roll. Van Halen was redefining rock 'n' roll, mainly through Eddie's crazy guitar talents and Dave's screaming vocals. Recurring to some guitar tapping techniques, Eddie Van Halen was seriously becoming one of rock's most appreciated and innovative guitarists, as he started to inspire youngsters to actually pick up a guitar and learn how to play. To keep VH's momentum going, they rushed to write and record a follow-up album to Van Halen II
. Nearly 6 months after completing tours for promotion of Van Halen II
, recording sessions for Women and Children First
took place. Writing sessions for Van Halen's 3rd album may have been a bit rushed, but that doesn't show at all, because it seems as if Van Halen didn't get tired at all of innovating, playing and reinventing their music. Women and Children First
serves as a bit of a transitional period for Van Halen. Fair Warning
, VH's 4th album, would approach a more darker tone for the band, and Women and Children First
marks Van Halen's transition from a constant party style to a more serious approach of songwriting. And it does that quite well.
Marking a transitional period for Van Halen, Women and Children First
doesn't completely abandon VH's party style. In fact, VH's party style was never truly abandoned. In fact, it's shown how good Van Halen was at writing upbeat and feelgood tracks. Personal and professional conflicts between Eddie and Dave, VH's main driving forces, started to show, though, as the two started suffering from a severe personality clash. Eddie wanted to take the direction of the band a lot more seriously, while Dave felt better by keeping VH's party band status. That conflict must've affected in a way VH's sense of direction as a band. That type of conflicts also affected Michael Anthony and Alex Van Halen. But people who didn't know how Van Halen's environment was backstage wouldn't assume all of this, judging from the upbeat ambient and the great quality of Women and Children First
. It's great and actually quite remarkable to see how a band whose two main creative forces could barely stand each other could still be able to produce a lot of quality material. It's good to see that Eddie and Dave's personal conflicts didn't affect the quality of Women and Children First
. It is, indeed, an excellent album, written under circumstances that wouldn't normally suggest that.
Women and Children First
is not held in such a high regard as VH's classic debut album, but it is seen by fans as one of Van Halen's most accomplished efforts, even containing fan-favorites in Everybody Wants Some!!
and Romeo Delight
. Van Halen keeps pulling out some incredibly great feelgood tunes: honorable mentions go to Fools
, one of the band's most blues-influenced numbers, and Van Halen's most obvious sex related track Everybody Wants Some!!
, that contains some of Eddie's most simple but ultimately most effective guitar playing and a standout job by Alex Van Halen, who plays the song's trademark jungle beat. What's also quite apparent is a beginning of Van Halen's transition to a new musical direction, and that's most evident in Romeo Delight
, that features one of EVH's most agressive and recognisable riffs and also a great job by every member of the band, and Loss Of Control
, that practically comes out as a punk rock track, in which Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony stand out, playing furiously. The song, though, sounds a bit inconsistent, when compared to other tracks here. However, the addition of two mainly acoustic tracks really brings a nice feel to the album. Take Your Whiskey Home
sounds very bluesy and is a very nice addition to VH's catalog, and Could This Be Magic?
, which was recorded while the band was drunk, sounds very funny and relaxed, very genuine indeed.
Lastly, one more great aspect about the album is how good of a balance is made between the opener and the closer. While And The Cradle Will Rock...
puts out some furious playing by EVH, namely an incredibly fast guitar tapping solo, thunderous drumming from Alex, amazing bass playing by Michael and an energetic vocal display by Dave, In A Simple Rhyme...
starts off as a typical Van Halen track before leading into a lovely interlude, that features quite a calm and beautiful environment set by Eddie and Michael's backing vocals. In A Simple Rhyme...
ends Women and Children First
in an exceptional way and is one of Van Halen's most overlooked tracks. Overall, VH's 3rd album was quite an accomplished one. It's an album that marks a transitional period for the band, musically, and in quite an intelligent way. Van Halen realized that they had to grow upon their music, in order to keep their momentum and to establish themselves as a name to be feared in the hard rock scene. It's often overlooked, among other VH albums, namely Van Halen
, Van Halen II
, but it still contains some great material by Van Halen, namely And The Cradle Will Rock...
and Everybody Wants Some!!
, that remain absolute fan-favorites. All of Van Halen's albums from the Diamond Dave era should be listened to and Women and Children First
is no exception. If you haven't listened to it yet, check it out now.