Women and Children First
Available on CD, iTunes, AmazonMP3, eMusic, and Spotify
Well, talk about bad planning… I found out halfway through the day that today is Eddie Van Halen’s birthday. Depending on who you ask, he’s either 55 or 57. Doesn’t matter. So, screw it, even though I did DLR’s first solo album yesterday and 1984 two weeks ago, I’ll overview another Van Halen album.
Women and Children First was Van Halen’s third album – and the first I ever bought. I still have the vinyl. Yes, this is the album that had the famous Helmut Newton photo of David Lee Roth chained up against a chain-link fence. The poster was never hung up – and not for any reason other than it was also serving as the inner sleeve for the record itself. I’m not sure why Warner Bros. – or whoever was in charge of their record pressing plant at the time – chose to have the poster double as the inner sleeve. Right now I’m sure some collector is cringing…
Notable note about this album #1: No cover versions to be found. You wouldn’t hear any more covers from VH until Diver Down a few years later – and then almost out of necessity.
Notable note about this album #2: This was the first Van Halen album to feature keyboards – in this case an electric piano played through a Marshall by Eddie on “…And The Cradle Will Rock”. DLR got a little socially conscious on this one, it seems… but it wasn’t the first time for him doing that, at least if you count the “They found a dirty-faced kid in a garbage can” line from “D.O.A.” on Van Halen II.
Notable note about this album #3: A rare Van Halen all-acoustic moment – the only one in the original six-album tenure of Roth-led VH – in “Could This Be Magic?”. Very cool acoustic blues with Roth on rhythm acoustic guitar, Eddie on slide, and Nicolette Larson adding her voice to the ensemble.
The rest is typical VH rockin’ – “Everybody Wants Some” is a VH set list standard now, “Fools” has some cool call-and-response going on in the intro between Eddie’s guitar and Dave’s voice. “Romeo Delight”, which is said to be one of Valerie Bertinelli’s favorite VH songs.
The album isn’t perfect – there’s really only eight new (at the time) songs (“Tora! Tora!”, which kicks off side two, is really a few seconds of backwards tape of the band going a bit avant-garde), and I doubt too many people would recommend it as a first VH album, but it was mine and I became a fan anyway. No regrets here.