Women and Children First – 1980
With another year under their album release belt, of course it was time for Van Halen to release their third album. Once it sunk in, Women and Children First quickly became my favorite Van Halen album; it’s gritty, heavy, fun, and diverse. As with most people, “And the Cradle Will Rock” and “Everybody Wants Some” are two of my favorites here, but the whole album is amazing.
Of note, Kerrang! magazine listed the album at #30 among the 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time. Also, the guitar on the cover is the one Eddie posthumously gave to Dimebag Darrell and is buried with Dime.
“Fools” is one of those deep tracks that just must be heard. If one doesn’t know the Van Halen material and is skipping through the tracks, only hearing the first few seconds of each song, their lack of patience is doing them a disservice on this one. Sure, I think the bluesy, swampy intro is great and I love the mystery of where it’s leading the track, but I can see how someone just skipping through might keep going. Too bad, because once the revs up for its second intro and finds its boogy, this song quickly becomes a favorite.
If “D.O.A.” on Van Halen II was a precursor to thrash metal, then “Romeo Delight” takes it a step further. The chugging riffs here are very tangible, and the tempo is frantic, which makes the bass-driven breakdown all the more sweet.
“Take Your Whiskey Home”
Just as with “Fools,” if you expect this song to take off running from the start, you’ll have to wait a moment while Dave and Eddie wax poetic, acoustically. Swagger, swing, groove, a story to tell, “Take Your Whiskey Home” has it all. Michael Anthony is on fire, the solo is ripping, the tone is… perfect.
“In a Simple Rhyme”
This is such a serene song, but also bombastic. Everyone is firing on all cylinders. Up to this point in Van Halen’s career, this “love song” is probably the most diverse and might be the most beautifully crafted song in the entire Van Halen catalog.
A fan favorite album deserves more love…