For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge

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For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
A photo of the "VH" flying-V logo embossed in metal on a leather surface
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 17, 1991 (1991-06-17)[1]
RecordedMarch 1990 – April 1991
Studio5150 Studios, Studio City, California
GenreHard rock
LabelWarner Bros.
Van Halen chronology
For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
Live: Right Here, Right Now
Singles from For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
  1. "Poundcake"
    Released: June 1991
  2. "Top of the World"
    Released: September 1991
  3. "Right Now"
    Released: February 1992

For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (often abbreviated as F.U.C.K.) is the ninth studio album by American rock band Van Halen. It was released on June 17, 1991,[2] on Warner Bros. Records and is the third to feature vocalist Sammy Hagar. It debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart and maintained the position for three consecutive weeks. The album marked a record in the band's history, seeing seven of its eleven tracks released as singles.

The album marked the first time the band had Ted Templeman working in a producer capacity since 1984, when David Lee Roth was still lead singer. He had, however, assisted in determining the track sequencing for the 1986 effort 5150.[3]

The album was remastered by Donn Landee and released on October 6, 2023 as part of The Collection II; the four studio albums with Hagar, plus an extra disc of eight rarities from this era.[4]


The album's title came from lead singer Sammy Hagar, who wanted to push the issue of censorship by 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."[5] 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).[5][6][7] Their tour promoting the album was unofficially named F.U.C.K. 'n' Live. Prior to recording, the term "for unlawful carnal knowledge" was used by the band Coven as a track on their album Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls in 1969.


Van Halen started work on the album in March 1990 and finished in April 1991, two months before its release. The album itself was marketed as the "return" to Van Halen's hard rock roots,[8] with most songs being guitar driven, and the synth sounds being replaced by pianos. 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 Hagar did not want to work with Andy Johns and Templeman let him "get away with everything."[9] The year-long production led to the 'labored' sound.[10]

This was the first album that Eddie recorded without his trademark Marshall Super Lead serving as the primary amplifier. The Marshall was fading,[11] so he went with his 1989 Soldano SLO-100 to record the album primarily, though the Marshall was used sparingly.[11] A prototype for what would become the Peavey 5150 series of custom amplifiers was also used.[11] 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 instrumental "316" is named for the March 16, 1991, birthday of Eddie's son Wolfgang, who later went on to be Van Halen's last 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).[12] On Wolfgang's 25th birthday on March 16, 2016, his mother Valerie Bertinelli posted a photo on her Facebook page of her and Eddie during her pregnancy with the caption "Ed playing 316 on my growing tummy, before he knew he would call it 316" Eddie can be seen in the photo playing an acoustic guitar on top of Valerie's pregnant belly.[13]

The song "Top of the World" features a riff that was first heard on a studio recording during the outro of the 1984-era hit "Jump". However on bootleg and official (but unreleased) recordings of Van Halen concerts during the original David Lee Roth era, the riff can sometimes be heard being played at the end of "Dance The Night Away", the most notable being at the end of 1983 Us Festival performance of the song.[14] "Top of the World" was played directly after "Jump" on the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge Tour and appears immediately after it on the Best of Both Worlds compilation.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Entertainment WeeklyC[16]
Christgau's Consumer Guide(dud)[17]
Rolling Stone[18]
Ultimate Guitar

Rolling Stone's John Milward rated the album 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."[18]

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."[16]

In his Consumer Guide, Robert Christgau gave the album a "dud" rating.[17]

A retrospective review by AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine was 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."[15]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Eddie Van Halen, Michael Anthony, Sammy Hagar and Alex Van Halen

2."Judgement Day"4:38
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:52:06


Van Halen

Additional personnel


  • Andy Johns – producer, engineer, mixing
  • Jeri Heiden – art direction
  • Lee Herschberg – engineer
  • Michael Scott – engineer, mixing
  • David Seltzer – photography
  • Ted Templeman – producer, mixing
  • Van Halen – producers
  • Glen Wexler – photography
  • Donn Landee – remastering (2023)



Billboard (United States)

Year Single Chart Position
1991 "Poundcake" Album Rock Tracks[34] 1
"Right Now" 2
"Runaround" 1
"Top of the World" 1
Billboard Hot 100[35] 27
1992 "Man on a Mission" Album Rock Tracks[34] 21
"Right Now" Billboard Hot 100[35] 55
"The Dream Is Over" Album Rock Tracks[34] 7


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[36] Platinum 100,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[37] Gold 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[38] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[39] 3× Platinum 3,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


Grammy Award

Year Nominated work Category Result
1991 For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge Best Hard Rock Performance Won[40]


  1. ^ "Gold and Platinum". RIAA. March 16, 2019. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  2. ^ "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge - Van Halen | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic.
  3. ^ Ted, Templeman (2020). Ted Templeman: A Platinum Producer's Life in Music. ECW Press. ISBN 978-1770414839.
  4. ^ Irwin, Corey. "Van Halen Revisits Sammy Hagar Years With 'The Collection II' Set". Ultimate Classic Rock. Townsquare Media, Inc. Retrieved October 5, 2023.
  5. ^ a b Rosen, Craig. The Billboard Book of Number One Albums. Billboard Books, 1996 ISBN 0-8230-7586-9
  6. ^ World Wide Words: Fuck
  7. ^ The idea that the word "fuck" is derived from an acronym is generally disbelieved by etymologists. See Fuck#False etymologies.
  8. ^ "Balance by Van Halen – Classic Rock Review". March 8, 2016. Retrieved May 26, 2023.
  9. ^ "Eruptions"; Steven Rosen, Guitar World (December 1996)
  10. ^ Corgan, Billy. "Best Of Both Worlds". Guitar World (April 1996)
  11. ^ a b c "The Champ's Amp", by Brad Tolinski, Guitar World Magazine 1991.
  12. ^ "The Story Behind Edward Van Halen's Most Personal Song: '316'". Van Halen News Desk. March 16, 2019. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  13. ^ "Ed playing 316 on my growing tummy,... - Valerie Bertinelli". Retrieved February 17, 2023.
  14. ^ Van Halen - Dance the Night Away (Live 1983 US Festival), retrieved February 17, 2023
  15. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge at AllMusic
  16. ^ a b Arnold, Gina (July 12, 1991). "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge Review". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on December 30, 2013. Retrieved November 25, 2012.
  17. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "CG: Van Halen". Retrieved November 25, 2012.
  18. ^ a b Milward, John (August 22, 1991). "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved October 12, 2011.
  19. ^ " – Van Halen – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  20. ^ " – Van Halen – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  21. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 1569". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  22. ^ " – Van Halen – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  23. ^ Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin – levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972 (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava. ISBN 978-951-1-21053-5.
  24. ^ " – Van Halen – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  25. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005 (in Japanese). Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
  26. ^ " – Van Halen – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  27. ^ " – Van Halen – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  28. ^ " – Van Halen – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  29. ^ "Van Halen | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  30. ^ "Van Halen Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved June 26, 2017.
  31. ^ "Top 100 Album-Jahrescharts". GfK Entertainment (in German). Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  32. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1991". Billboard. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  33. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1992". Billboard. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  34. ^ a b c "Van Halen - Chart history". Retrieved June 26, 2017.
  35. ^ a b "Van Halen - Chart history". Retrieved June 26, 2017.
  36. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Van Halen – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge". Music Canada.
  37. ^ "Japanese album certifications – Van Halen – Fuck" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. Retrieved February 27, 2020. Select 1991年11月 on the drop-down menu
  38. ^ "British album certifications – Van Halen – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge". British Phonographic Industry.
  39. ^ "American album certifications – Van Halen – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge". Recording Industry Association of America.
  40. ^ "Van Halen | Artist |".

Further reading[edit]

  • Templeman, Ted; Renoff, Greg (2020). Ted Templeman: A Platinum Producer's Life in Music. Toronto: ECW Press. pp. 425–30. ISBN 9781770414839. OCLC 1121143123.