For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge

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For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
Studio album by Van Halen
Released June 18, 1991
Recorded March 1990 – April 1991 at 5150 Studios, Studio City, CA
Genre Hard rock
Length 52:00
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Andy Johns, Ted Templeman, Van Halen
Van Halen chronology
OU812
(1988)
For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
(1991)
Live: Right Here, Right Now
(1993)

For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (also known as F.U.C.K.) is the ninth studio album by American hard rock band Van Halen, released in 1991 on Warner Bros. Records. It debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart and maintained the position for three weeks.

Album title[edit]

The album's title came from lead singer Sammy Hagar, who wanted to push the issue of censorship with naming Van Halen's album with a vulgarity, stating, "That's when censorship was a big issue. I wanted to name the album just Fuck."[1] Hagar eventually backed away from the outright vulgarity after he was told by his friend, former world lightweight boxing champion Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, that the word "fuck" was an acronym for the phrase "for unlawful carnal knowledge" (though this is a false etymology).[1][2][3] Their tour promoting the album was unofficially named F.U.C.K. 'n' Live. Prior to recording, the term "for unlawful carnal knowledge" was first used by the band Coven as a track on their album Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls in 1969.

Recording[edit]

Van Halen started work on the album in March 1990 and finished in April 1991 (just two months before its release). The album itself was marketed as the "return" to Van Halen's hard rock roots, with most songs being guitar driven, and the synth sounds being replaced by pianos. This can be prominently heard on "Right Now", the most popular song from the album and likely from the "Van Hagar era".[citation needed] The band also reconciled with producer Ted Templeman who produced earlier Van Halen albums to return to work on the album. According to Eddie Van Halen, this happened because singer Sammy Hagar did not want to work with Andy Johns and Templeman "let him get away with everything".[4] The year-long production lead to the labored sound.[5]

This was the first album that Eddie recorded without his trademark Marshall Super Lead serving as the primary amplifier. The Marshall was fading,[6] so Eddie went with his 1989 Soldano SLO-100 to record the album primarily, though the Marshall was used sparingly.[6] A prototype for what would become the Peavey 5150 series of custom amplifiers was also used.[6] Peavey's release of the 5150 series coincided with the release of the album.

"Poundcake" featured the sound of a battery operated power drill, which Eddie held to the pickups of his guitar and revved, creating the intro. The song "Top of the World" features a riff that was first heard during the outro of the 1984-era hit "Jump". For this reason, "Top of the World" is frequently played directly after "Jump" and appears immediately after it on the Best of Both Worlds compilation. The instrumental "316" is named for the March 16 birthday of Eddie's son Wolfgang, who is currently Van Halen's bass player, although the song predates his birth (as part of it was used by Eddie at the beginning of his guitar solo on tour, as seen on "Live Without a Net", and was originally written for 5150).[1]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2.5/5 stars[7]
Entertainment Weekly C[8]
Robert Christgau (dud)[9]
Rolling Stone 2/5 stars[10]
Ultimate Guitar 4.5/5 stars

Reviews for the album are mixed. Rolling Stone's John Milward rated it two out of five stars, explaining that it "is so stuffed with zigzagging guitars and blustery vocals that it almost forgets to rock. Eddie Van Halen, who probably has more guitars than teeth, upends such a tackle box of hooks that they only start to surface after repeated listenings. Tasteful simplicity, which is never really simple at all, would have proved a better course to follow." He concluded that the guitars "are busier, the beats are heavier, and the fun is fleeting. Van Halen has chops to burn, but For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, like its lumbering opening track and first single, 'Poundcake,' is stale."[10]

A retrospective review by AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine was still mixed. He stated that the title "indicates the true nature of For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge [...] Backing away from the diversity of OU812, the band turns in some of the most basic, straightforward rock & roll of its career." However, he also stated that it was "undeniable that [Sammy Hagar's] limited vocal power had a great deal to do with the obvious nature of most of this music." He concluded that, even though the band continued to be tight and professional, the songwriting "is, by and large, undistinguished, with the anthemic 'Right Now' standing out as the most memorable song of the batch, mainly because of its incessant chorus."[7]

Gina Arnold of Entertainment Weekly gave the album a C and said, "It would be nice to believe that the acronym formed by the title of Van Halen's new, top-charting album was intended as a covert blow against censorship in America. Unfortunately, it's far more likely that the punny name merely indicates VH's love of the kind of bathroom talk that third graders think is funny. [...] For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge doesn't contain even one mind-numbingly catchy melody. Only 'Top of the World' and 'The Dream Is Over' come close to working up a truly fist-thrusting chorus, and the gist of the latter — 'dream another dream, this dream is over' — may well be advice that Van Halen and their fans ought to take to heart."[8] In his Consumer Guide, Robert Christgau gave the album a "dud" rating.[9]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Eddie Van Halen, Michael Anthony, Sammy Hagar and Alex Van Halen

No. Title Length
1. "Poundcake"   5:21
2. "Judgement Day"   4:38
3. "Spanked"   4:53
4. "Runaround"   4:20
5. "Pleasure Dome"   6:58
6. "In 'n' Out"   6:04
7. "Man on a Mission"   5:03
8. "The Dream Is Over"   3:59
9. "Right Now"   5:21
10. "316" (instrumental) 1:29
11. "Top of the World"   3:54
Total length:
52:00

Personnel[edit]

Additional musicians[edit]

Production[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[11] Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[12] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[13] 3× Platinum 3,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Charts[edit]

Album[edit]

Billboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1991 The Billboard 200 1

Singles[edit]

Billboard (North America)

Year Single Chart Position
1991 "Poundcake" Album Rock Tracks 1
"Right Now" Album Rock Tracks 2
"Runaround" Album Rock Tracks 1
"Top of the World" Album Rock Tracks 1
The Billboard Hot 100 27
1992 "Man on a Mission" Album Rock Tracks 21
"Right Now" The Billboard Hot 100 55
"The Dream Is Over" Album Rock Tracks 7

Awards[edit]

Grammy Awards

Year Winner Category
1991 For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge Best Hard Rock Performance

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Rosen, Craig. The Billboard Book of Number One Albums. Billboard Books, 1996 ISBN 0-8230-7586-9
  2. ^ World Wide Words: Fuck
  3. ^ The idea that the word "fuck" is derived from an acronym is generally disbelieved by etymologists. See Fuck#False etymologies.
  4. ^ "Eruptions"; Steven Rosen, Guitar World (December 1996)
  5. ^ Corgan, Billy. "Best Of Both Worlds". Guitar World (April 1996)
  6. ^ a b c "The Champ's Amp", by Brad Tolinski, Guitar World Magazine 1991.
  7. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge at AllMusic
  8. ^ a b Arnold, Gina (July 12, 1991). "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 25, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "CG: Van Halen". Retrieved November 25, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Milward, John (August 22, 1991). "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved October 12, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Van Halen – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge". Music Canada. 
  12. ^ "British album certifications – Van Halen – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  13. ^ "American album certifications – Van Halen – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
Preceded by
Slave to the Grind by Skid Row
Billboard 200 number-one album
July 6–26, 1991
Succeeded by
Unforgettable... with Love by Natalie Cole