1980 brings us the third album from Van Halen, “Women and Children First”. There are some creative moments on this album, and as always, Eddie Van Halen is spectacular, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this proves to be my least favorite of the vintage Van Halen albums with David Lee Roth on vocals. I will hit some of the details below like always, but I just don’t think the songwriting lives up to the same level as the first two albums.
The best two songs are probably the first two, “And the Cradle Will Rock” and “Everybody Wants Some!!”. Both Van Halen brothers crush on these first two tracks, and they both have party Diamond Dave at his best, at least on this album. I will always remember the Claymation rock-out of “Everybody Wants Some!!” in the John Cusack movie “Better Off Dead”, complete with Eddie’s Frankenstrat guitar.
Following those two, the next three songs are all a bit uninspired, as if these were songs that didn’t quite make the cut for the first two records. I hate to say it, but I find “Loss of Control” particularly annoying, even with Eddie blistering away as always. The vocals are just a bit of a grind to get through.
The album ends on a better note, with the rocker “Take Your Whiskey Home”, the acoustic blues sound of “Could This Be Magic”, and the closing track “In a Simple Rhyme”, which really relies on the backing vocals of Michael Anthony like many solid Van Halen tracks. None of these are all-time favorites, although “Could This Be Magic” is my favorite of the three, but even when they aren’t at their best, Van Halen is still capable of bringing down the house. This is their first album to have all original songs, and while maybe that stretched them a little thin on content, coming this close after their second album, most diehards love it, and it does have perhaps their most iconic band photo on the album cover.