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Articles Home » 1980 Articles » Van Halen - 1980 Women And Children First
Van Halen - 1980 Women And Children First

ARTIST: Van Halen
ALBUM: Women And Children First
LABEL: Warner Bros
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: 2000, Warner Bros, 9 47739-2


LINEUP: David Lee Roth - vocals * Eddie Van Halen - guitars * Michael Anthony - bass * Alex Van Halen - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 And The Cradle Will Rock * 02 Everybody Wants Some * 03 Fools * 04 Romeo Delight * 05 Tora Tora * 06 Loss Of Control * 07 Take Your Whiskey Home * 08 Could This Be Magic? * 09 In A Simple Rhyme


Much like 1981's 'Fair Warning', 'Women And Children First' is a piece of classic US hard rock that seems to have been swept under the carpet a bit. True you can turn rock radio on every day and be assured of hearing 'And The Cradle Will Rock' and 'Everybody Wants Some', but aside from those two, it's been a fairly non existent album given the passing of time. 'Women And Children First' came between the impact of a stunning debut and a tepid follow up, and in many ways was superior to the debut. The riffs were sharper and heavier, and Roth had really settled into the act of a frontman god. What's more significant is how far ahead of most bands VH were production and sound wise. I find it staggering this is now twenty three years old. Maybe that's due to the lack of keyboards. More unbelievably, the whole album was recorded in two and a half weeks, amazing considering the lack of output from VH in the last decade!

The Songs
The anthems come thick and fast, starting with 'And The Cradle Will Rock...', which maintains a mid paced feel throughout, Roth stealing the show with his eccentric vocals, wisecracking to the very last note, although Eddie contributes his massive wall of sound riffs no end. It's overplayed on US radio but 'Everybody Wants Some' remains enjoyable nonetheless, Anthony's bass rumbling in an Entwistle like manner. Consider this the starting point for every aspiring party metal band of the 80's. 'Fools' is lengthy at six minutes, a good romp with Eddie delivering the unfathomable solos people wanted to hear. The key moment perhaps is 'Romeo Delight', the opening riff barrage among the heaviest you'll ever hear. This is heavy metal. If you ever wondered why Kiss were redundant in 1980, this provides all the clues. It doesn't let up, 'Loss Of Control' all speed and flash, again making acts like The Who look like a joke. Not much needs to be said about 'Take Your Whiskey Home' except that it's unrivalled good time hard rock, although 'Could This Be Magic' takes a radical turn, a bluesy acoustic ditty which indicates these guys weren't afraid to try anything. 'In A Simple Rhyme' is more melodic, traces of AOR, especially in those famed harmonies, but overall too heavy to fit the term.

In Summary
You only begin to realise how bad Van Hagar was when stacked up next to this. Early VH had all the urgency, vibrancy and talent in the world. The music was free flowing and unrestricted, something they maintained until the day Roth left. It's not difficult therefore to see who the spark behind the scene was. The 1980's promised much as albums like this cropped up at the onset of the decade, and VH themselves delivered - until 1988 at least.

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#1 | sabace on March 30 2006 14:37:57
what can you say van halen with roth a match made in heaven their six lps should be given free on the health service
#2 | jeffduran on December 25 2007 09:14:36
This is the definitive Roth era release! 'Romeo Delight' and 'Take Your Whiskey Home' are excellent! Great Review!clap
#3 | reyno-roxx on February 03 2012 16:27:02
It's interesting The Who got mentioned in the review. I dragged this out last night to listen to for the first time in years and - this might just be controversial - there are plenty of occasions throughout the album (but especially on 'In A Simple Rhyme' ) where Van Halen reference The Who so much it's unbelievable. Listen to some of the less fiddly guitar work and (especially) the bass, harmonies (a-la 'Quadrophenia' era?) and hopefully you'll hear what I mean....
#4 | dangerzone on February 03 2012 17:28:02
I agree Dave. The reason I bought The Who up when I reviewed this is because they seemed positively ancient and lacking in energy in 1980 compared to bands they influenced like Van Halen. As I wrote this in 2003 my opinion on that might have changed slightly (now being as old myself as The Who were in 1980) but mostly I still stand by those words.
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