Women And Children First
In the book The Devil’s Disciples: The Truth About Rock Music, Christian author Jeff Godwin states that whenever you hear a scream or squeal from the singer on a heavy metal record, it’s because that singer is being anally penetrated while in the studio. It’s funny that after hearing about this, my first thought was, “Wow. David Lee Roth must have an anus of steel!”
If you grew up in the 80’s like I did and you were a fan of the rawk music, chances are you’ve listened to a bit of Van Halen in your time. I only really care about the first three Halen albums, you know, way before they started using all those pussed-out keyboards and got that curly-haired fat guy as their singer. Sure Eddie Van Halen’s crazy guitar technique influenced a million fast-playing guitar players around the globe and kick-started a glam-metal revolution of sorts, but for me Van Halen is David Lee Roth and his billions of little screams.
Anally penetrated or not, it’s Roth’s high-pitched shrieks that he seems to emit after every sung line that make Van Halen one of the most ridiculous/best bands of the late 70’s. He squeals his dirty lyrics with such bravado and as the band snake along with some sort of funked-up sweaty boogie, you realize that Van Halen were perhaps the smartest dumb band of all time. I mean, really, those guys could play; it’s just that they sang songs about sex, drinking, sex, teenage disobedience, sex, teenage sex, sex, and ice cream. Wait, that song was about sex too.
|Pre-penetration David Lee Roth|
1980’s Women and Children First is to me, the best thing that Diamond Dave and the gang ever did. Their first album is the legendary one (and don’t get me wrong, the thing is damn good) and the second one is a paler version of the first, but it’s on this, the third album, that they really hit their stride.
The album opens with “And The Cradle Will Rock…”, a chugging anthem of teenage rebellion and worried parents that contains one of the coolest opening noisy guitar riffs of all time. As a early teenager I’d hear that opening guitar riff that sounds like some sort of caged animal about to strike followed by Dave giving us one of his famed Ow!!!’s and I’d wanna pump my fist in the air like crazy (of course I was too reserved to do that, even in the privacy of my own bedroom). Then comes the guitar solo breakdown, where Dave intones in a disapproving adult voice, “Have you seen junior’s grades?” This, of course, explodes back into a giant fuck you of molten rock lava until the fadeout.
Pounding drums begin the jungle slither of “Everybody Wants Some”, a song that was featured in the hamburger claymation sequence of the John Cusack flick Better Off Dead. From the opening line Dave sounds completely bonkers as he screams unintelligible garble about getting laid. We also should not forget the middle section where he’s telling the chick how to strip for him and the delicate ending to the song, where Dave lets her know he really loves her: “Look, I’ll pay you for it! What the fuck?”
|Post-coctail Van Halen|
Next is “Fools”, a six minute boogie about, you guessed it, teenage rebellion. Its length alone makes it a Van Halen epic, but when you consider that the first minute and a half is Dave and Eddie acting like they’re old bluesmen followed by a guitar solo that sounds like “Eruption” Part 2, “Fools” seems like Halen’s prog rock song. Bullshit, yes, but totally rockin’, HELL yes.
Side one ends with “Romeo Delight”, a bombastic rocker complete with lines like “I’m takin’ whiskey to the party tonight and I’m looking for somebody to squeeze!” and a trademark Van Halen bass breakdown. A brilliant unknown song that makes me wanna tear the place up wherever I’m at.
The second side opens with the most frantic portion of the entire album: the 56 second noise and vaguely Latin crunch of “Tora! Tora!” which slams into the punkish frenzy of “Loss of Control”. Before you can even crack open your next beer the boys have moved on to the bluesy acoustic intro of “Take Your Whiskey Home”, another slimy boogie about the pleasures and pains of drinking.
Then things get kinda weird. “Could This Be Magic” is an acoustic sing-songy sea chanty that sounds like it could only be the result of too many drunken parties and an under-abundance of material for the album. Unapologetic in its silliness and convincingly performed, I must report that “Magic” is one of the best songs on the album. No shit.
|Triumphant Warriors of Rock, 1980|
Finally we get the grand finale of “In A Simple Rhyme”, one of the all time best Van Halen songs ever. The lyrics deal with trying to find something real after years of partying and rampant sleeping around, and it’s a slightly shocking departure from the rest of the album. Musically, though, it’s still tough (well, until the soft breakdown where Dave finally falls in love, but don’t worry… they always get back to the rock) and contains one of their catchiest choruses. It’s a great way to end a great album.
So there you have it. Van Halen’s third album all in under 34 minutes so you always leave wanting more. Trust me, this album will rock your ass off.
Speaking of asses, I kinda hope that Mr. Godwin was right about the anal penetration bit. Think about it: the logistics of making sure that there was someone around in the studio to bugger Mr. Roth for every one of his hundreds of screams on the album would have been staggering, not to mention mind-blowingly hedonistic. Now that’s rock and roll!