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4.4 out of 5 stars
Women And Children First Reissue
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 25 March 2003
This was Van Halen's third album (rel. 1980), following the release of Van Halen I (1978) and II (1979). These are all truly great records, with original songs, techniques (at the time of release anyway!) and a fantastic sense of live performance. The latter comes from Producer Ted Templeman's impressive ability to just let the band play the songs without over-producing. Also Engineering from Donn Landee enables you to hear the infamous 'Brown Sound' of Alex Van Halen's Snare and Eddie's Amp/ Guitar Set Up.
But less of the history! As a stand-alone record this, like so many other Van Halen records, has brilliantly pure Hard Rock Songs and in so many different styles: From the meanest 'Fools' to the premier track 'And The Cradle Will Rock...' to the acoustic work on 'Take Your Whiskey Home' and the (let's face it) bizarre masterpiece of 'Could this be Magic?'. These are impressive to the listener because the band do them all so well.
Reasons to buy this record?? If your interest is in Van Halen, Monumental Guitar work, quality understated Bass and drum work (Michael Anthony and Alex Van Halen are legends in their own right), Hard Rock, great songs, scary harmonic-squealing from David Lee Roth, a wonderful ear for chords from Eddie, balanced records... This is certainly one of the best of the Group's realeases, because it showcases them doing what they do best.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2000
If you have got to this point (i.e. reading this review), then it is evident that you have more esoteric and refined tastes in rock music than the average trend and fad prone rocker of today would anticipate. Such distance is this album from any commercially relevant music of today would also imply that you already have a fair experience of rock music in its complete form, unsullied by trends or modern commercial success.
Bearing this in mind, if you are looking for a classic, seminal masterpiece of rock music to add to a collection, then look no further. From beginning to end, this album delivers everything a classic rock fan could desire. Tracks such as "Everybody Wants Some!", "Romeo Delight" and "Tora Tora" will showcase the fast-paced, decadent and joyously defiant rock music that only Roth era Van Halen could do so well. What makes tracks like these so special is that they are so original in their sound, it has remnants and the concept of classic rock like Led Zeppelin and Free, yet it is also fresh and rebellious like punk music was at that time. It blends the greatest attributes of both era's and unites them to make this album essential listening for any dedicating rock fan.
While this album lacked the commecial hype of its two predecessors, Van Halen 1 and Van Halen 2, but that by no means implies that the album is any less significant or revolutionary.
Eddie's playing is still as fresh and triumphantly experimental as it was before, and the many facets of their sound are displayed here. Certain songs will genuinely hit you with a surprise, leaving you thinking "Is this a Van Halen song?". Examples would be the acoustic blues guitar intro of "Take Your Whiskey Home", which is something Van Halen haven't previously experimanted with, not in an original song atleast.
"Could This Be Magic?" is another example, it is so far from traditional VH song, that it is genuinely dumbfounding: folk-slide playing on acoustic guitar? Are you sure that's Van Halen? But it is, and it works perfectly as song and in the context of the album, brilliant.
"In A Simple Rhyme", the final song, is a song that i believe any music fan should hear. It is a moving combination of a beautiful, sonorous and delicate melody seamlessly interwoven with passionate rock, and the lyrics are some of Roth's most surprisingly poetic to date "She makes the mountains sing/Birds against an icy sky/somewhere I heard bell's ringing/ I thought I heard an angel sigh..."
The songs' remarkable and intrinsic beauty serves as the perfect end to an understated and masterpiece of an album that I recommend with great earnesty.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This is one of the *classic* Van Halen albums. Such a great diversity of songs. The songs almost sound live and the band sounds so 'together'. The highlights:
- Cradle will Rock : early use of synth (through the MXR phaser, I guess) by EVH. Has the sound of a single.
- Everybody Wants Some! : DLR's sleazy spoken lines are well matched by EVH's sleazy guitar & trem bar. Sounds like it was recorded in a tunnel.
- Romeo Delight : pure energy. the little breakdown after the fantastic solo is pure brilliance, adding a completely different dynamic to the song. EVH has a real ear for gorgeous chord voicings. the bass/drums have a kind of mesmeric quality during the breakdown...i love this song.
- Take your Whiskey Home : the acoustic intro is a nice little piece
- Could This Be Magic : one of my favourite VH recordings. DLR was made for these type of songs. Great 'noodled' slide guitar.
- In a Simple Rhyme : unusually tender lyrics from Mr Roth! A lush breakdown.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 2012
By 1980, Van Halen were certified rock stars. They had put two LPs (albeit rather similar sounding to one another) which were massively successful, they were selling out arena tours, and had become one of America's premier hard rock bands. So when they went into the studio a third time, they wisely chose to branch out their sound and record a much stylistically broader set of songs that had yet been heard by Van Halen's fans.

If you listen to Van Halen's discography in chronological process (a good practice to do with any band or musical artist, to get a glimpse of their career path and musical projectory), WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST is one of the most important records to their career, and proved to be both a transitional record and one of the most underrated albums of their career. Their debut established the `Van Halen' sound, and VH II followed that sound without changing it up at all. Had they done so a third time, it would have been an artistic misfire and the band would probably start to fade from public consciousness.

Thankfully, Van Halen didn't do that. Instead, they introduced keyboards (Cradle Will Rock has keyboards processed through a guitar amp), does a bluesy acoustic, almost folk sound number (Could This Be Magic, one of the most underrated VH songs ever), some social commentary (!!) about rock fans and their relationship to their parents and authority figures (Cradle Will Rock), stretches out their musical muscle (Fools), and shows they can write some flat-out great hard rock songs (Romeo's Delight, Loss of Control, In a Simple Rhyme). While "Tora! Tora!" is more of a riff and an intro to "Loss of Control" than a real song, the other eight songs prove Van Halen was becoming a much more ambitious band the third time around. It is true that you have to spend more time with this record than the previous two to fully appreciate the music, but it is time well spent, much of it finding the different layers to the music.

What makes WOMEN so wonderful is how natural this expansion of the Van Halen sound is. They have more musical ambition, develop their song-writing skills, and just manage to churn out one of their most idiosyncratic records. While VHII sounds simply like VH repeated, WOMEN sounds like the real followup to the debut. And while I have always found "Everybody Wants Some" rather sophomoric in the lyrical department, the music itself is outstanding. On a moral level, I find myself disagreeing with "Everybody Wants Some", largely due to the sheer promiscuity it promotes, as well as at the very end Roth is propositioning a prostitute (he says "Look, I'll pay you for it, what the f--?" "In a Simple Rhyme", for my money, is one of the best VH songs recorded, and should have been a hit on the same level as any of their other famous material. I've also always had a partial "Could This Be Magic", Van Halen's equivalent of Zeppelin's "Going To California". What I mean by that is it's a fantastic folk song by a band mostly known for hard rock (though Zeppelin had a huge variety of style and texture to their work as well).

Overall, the music Van Halen recorded for this album is looser, funkier, and covers a much wider spectrum of music than their previous two records. The music sounds live, lived in, and like the band's been playing this music for that rare period of time when the material is still fresh enough, but more than capable of playing the material, and that point where the band has played the songs so much they just needed a break from it. Why WACF isn't more highly regarded is beyond me. I think this is easily their most underrated album.

Interestingly enough, when "In a Simple Rhyme" ends, a short 20 second untitled instrumental starts. The name of this instrumental, nowhere listed on the packaging, is "Growth", and was originally going to be used to as the opening track to WACF's followup. This followup turned out to be "Fair Warning", and the original idea was to use "Growth" as the opening track was unfortunately abandoned. It has some great, undeveloped potential.

Although the majority of the record may not be as immediately accessible as the biggest songs off the 1978 debut and 1984, overall it is a record that reveals more and more with each listen and reveals itself to be a record with as much lasting power as either of those two titans. It may take you a little bit to get into, but once you do, you'll be hooked.

Bottom line: Even though VAN HALEN or 1984 or the first two logical places to start listening to Van Halen with Roth was in the band, for the newbies this is a great place to start as well. Given how underrated it is, it would be nice for new listeners saying their first VH record was this one. I know a lot of people get nostalgic about records that got them into different bands, and it'd be nice if this was that record for more people than it is now, given its underrated status.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
It`s almost impossible to express how much I love Van Halen, and how much better they are than all the other bands of that era, this era, you name an era! The combination of Roth, EVH, Al and Mike...it just blows everything else out the water.

So, to "Women and Children First". Hot on the heels on the massive-selling VH 1 and 2, and mostly written on tour, this is a slight departure from the pop-sentiments that emerged with "Dance The Night Away" and "Women in Love" (great songs that they were). This album is a move towards a darker sound, climaxing on the stunning "Fair Warning". This album contains some of the greatest songs that Eddie and DLR wrote together, and I don`t say that lightly! "Romeo Delight" is a beauty, it`s got everything you could want in a rock song; Eddie mixes up some bluesy riffs with some tapping at the beginning, throws in a storming solo and just sounds like a man having a lot of fun...Roth`s lyrics are great too, he sounds pretty great as well! Kicking off with "...And The Cradle Will Rock!" and "Everybody Wants Some", both great examples of what a powerhouse quartet the young VH were, followed by the largely unheralded but excellent "Fools" - "Fools! I live with Fools!!". Eddie plays around with his guitar, making it sound like a motorbike on "Tora!Tora!" and this segues into "Loss of Control", another little gem. Acoustic guitar features on "Take Your Whiskey Home", which is pure-Roth sleaze. "Could This Be Magic?" is a lot of fun, and illustrates the versatility which must have made other bands feel like giving up. I love "In A Simple Rhyme" too, a really optimistic song which almost gives the impression that DLR has settled down with someone! Surely not? Then there`s a brief glimpse of what might have been - "Growth", which was intended to roll onto the next album...but that never happened.

I know this isn`t the most erudite of reviews - but, hell! I love this album, and it`s great fun, exactly what VH would have wanted me to think!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 December 2012
Believe me, oh dearly best beloved, this is the finest VH record of them all. Only once in their oeuvre did they come close to the gonzo genius of "WaCF" and that was with "VHI". The album is a scream. It's an impromptu cavort through tunes non-existent, through lyrics (the mighty DLR admitted as much) written on the back of a cigarette packet, an album with production stripped to the minimum, with bum notes and DLR casting his wacky spell over the entire opus. The moment when he starts to do chimp impersonations on "Everybody wants some" remains one of my favourite rock moments ever. I keep listening to it, though I should have long ago grown out of its infantile leanings but I can't. It is, by a country mile, my favourite record ever.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 February 2012
Apart from And The Cradle Will Rock & Everybody Wants Some, I'd never heard any further tracks from this album (despite being a VH fan!) and I can understand why so many fans hail this as there favourite and why it's gained a bit of a cult status.

From my ears, the first half of the album (Side A) is all Eddie Van Halen. His guitar sound is never better than this album and the first 4 tracks here are excellent which includes Fools, possibly the heaviest song VH have done.

Side B meanwhile is more Dave Lee Roth, being more sing-along type tunes not too dissimilar to his 1985 EP of Vegas lounge style covers.
The weakest track on the album is Loss Of Control, although many reviews have pointed this one out as a highlight.

One thing that does come to light on this album is the similarity to some earlier album tracks by The Who, specifically the albums A Quick One and The Who Sell Out.
Whilst not the best VH album in my opinion, it's certainly in the top 5 and that's based solely on the first four songs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 July 2012
This one had three rock radio hits on it. "and the cradle will rock" , 'everybody wants some' and "could this be love' ( a am radio hit too) , it was a huge hit , the third monster seller for this band in a row. This one sold many millions of copies and for good reason , it had tons of well crafted melodic metal songs on here. The band always could walk a line between metal and hard pop sounding songs very well. So you get both in a rock classic. the third classic of it's type , this isn't hard metal mostly , it's very good hard rockin though and it's the kind of hard rock that the ladies can love too. Most 1980's type of metal like this was. the hard stuff was and still is thrash metal and to me that is not half as fun as this.. This should tickle your fancy.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 26 January 2002
If you like Heavy Rock/Metal to have a tune then there is NO HEAVIER album than this one. VH's debut album is without question THE best debut album of all time (bar none) and it took their third album to match it... and match it it did. As a die hard VH nut, I consider WACF to be one of the most underrated albums in rock history. BUY IT.
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on 29 July 2010
I bought this album years and years ago on vinyl and, frankly, it's still as awe-inspiring today as it was then. An eclectic mixture of influences are apparent, (listen to 'Could This Be Magic?' next to 'Fools' then 'Romeo Delight'). Without doubt this is driven by the inimitable talent of the VH brothers, the flamboyancy of David Lee Roth and the devil-sent falsetto of Michael Anthony. This music is definately born of a time when image and contrived behaviour were a firm second to the music itself. Yeah, sure there were all the standard rock 'n' roll excesses in play, and, you could argue that Women and Children First is a really very short album. However, I would rather listen to a short album packed with great big, fat, smack-in-the-face tunes, than a rambling, ambling dirge that leaves you feeling nothing much at all, (a very popular format around then). That, I suppose, is the simple key....this album leaves you feeling so alive....on fire....inspired....digging back to a time when music could still truly do that without craving universal acceptance in front of a panel of judges. Van Halen were peerless at this point and setting standards others just couldn't match. Just buy it and feel how vital it still is!
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