Women and Children First

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Women and Children First
The band members posing together and leaning in toward the camera at a worm's eye view
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 26, 1980 (1980-03-26)
RecordedDecember 1979 – February 1980
StudioSunset Sound, Los Angeles
LabelWarner Bros.
ProducerTed Templeman
Van Halen chronology
Van Halen II
Women and Children First
Fair Warning
Singles from Women and Children First

Women and Children First is the third studio album by American hard rock band Van Halen, released on March 26, 1980 on Warner Bros. Records. Produced by Ted Templeman, it was the first to feature compositions written solely by the band, and is described by critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine as "[the] record where the group started to get heavier, both sonically and, to a lesser extent, thematically."[1]

Background and recording[edit]

The opening track, "And the Cradle Will Rock...", begins with what sounds like a guitar, but is, in fact, a phase shifter-effected Wurlitzer electric piano played through Van Halen's 1960s model 100-watt Marshall Plexi amplifier.[2]

The album is somewhat different from the band's first two albums in the way that it features more studio overdubs and less emphasis on backing vocals. "Could This Be Magic?" contains the only female backing vocal ever recorded for a Van Halen song; Nicolette Larson sings during some of the choruses. The rain sound in the background is not an effect; it was raining outside, and the band decided to record the sound in stereo using two Neumann KM84 microphones, and added it to the track.[3]

The first single from the album was the keyboard-driven "And the Cradle Will Rock..." Although it was not a success like previous singles "Dance the Night Away" or the cover of "You Really Got Me," the album itself was well-received and further entrenched the band as a popular concert draw. The song "Everybody Wants Some!!" was also a concert staple through the 1984 tour, and continued to be played by David Lee Roth after he left Van Halen.[3]

The album contains a track at the end of "In a Simple Rhyme," a brief instrumental piece entitled "Growth," which begins at 4:19. While "Growth" faded out on the original vinyl LP and cassette, it was given a cold ending at full volume on the compact disc. At the time the band was toying with the idea of starting what would become their next album Fair Warning with a continuation of "Growth," but this did not occur. "Growth" was a staple of the band's live shows with Roth and often used as the start of their encores. Several outtakes from these sessions exist, including an unreleased instrumental often referred to as "Act Like It Hurts," which was the title Eddie Van Halen originally wanted for "Tora! Tora!" "Act Like It Hurts" also provided a riff for "House of Pain," released on 1984.

The album version included a poster of a photograph by Helmut Newton featuring Roth chained to a fence.[4]

"Everybody Wants Some!!" was featured in the 1985 comedy Better Off Dead, during a sequence featuring a singing, guitar-playing claymation hamburger. A nod is given to Eddie in the animation, as the hamburger's guitar sports the Frankenstrat design made famous by him. "Everybody Wants Some!!" is also featured in the 2009 film Zombieland and the 2016 film Everybody Wants Some!![5] which took its title from the song, according to director Richard Linklater.[6]

In the band's licensed game, Guitar Hero: Van Halen, four of the nine tracks of this album are available for play: "And the Cradle Will Rock...," "Everybody Wants Some!!," "Romeo Delight" and "Loss of Control."[7]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[1]
Christgau's Record Guide: The '80sB[8]
Rolling StoneFavorable[9]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2.5/5 stars[10]

Reviews for Women and Children First were generally favorable. David Fricke for Rolling Stone highlights the songs, "Romeo Delight", "Everybody Wants Some!!", and "Loss of Control", calling them "works of high-volume art". Fricke praises the band, calling them "exceptionally good players".[9] Both Fricke and Robert Christgau compare Eddie's guitar work to Jimi Hendrix. Christgau gives the album a B rating, stating, "[Eddie] earns the Hendrix comparisons, and he's no clone--he's faster, colder, more structural." In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine rated the album 4.5 stars out of 5. Erlewine calls the album, "mature, or at least get a little serious", noting "there's a bit of a dark heart beating on this record".[1]

Kerrang! magazine listed the album at #30 among the "100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time",[11] and Rolling Stone listed the album at #36 in their list of "The 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time".[12]

Track listing[edit]

All songs by Edward Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, Michael Anthony and David Lee Roth.

Side one
1."And the Cradle Will Rock..."3:31
2."Everybody Wants Some!!"5:05
4."Romeo Delight"4:19
Side two
5."Tora! Tora!"0:57
6."Loss of Control"2:36
7."Take Your Whiskey Home"3:09
8."Could This Be Magic?"3:08
9."In a Simple Rhyme"4:18
10."Growth" (hidden track)0:19


Van Halen

Additional musicians




Billboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1980 Pop Albums 6[13]


Billboard (North America)

Year Single Chart Position
1980 "And the Cradle Will Rock..." Billboard Hot 100 55[14]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[15] 2× Platinum 200,000^
France (SNEP)[16] Gold 100,000*
United States (RIAA)[17] 3× Platinum 3,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Women and Children First - Van Halen". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
  2. ^ "And The Cradle Will Rock..." Van Halen News Desk. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Women And Children First". Van Halen News Desk. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  4. ^ Renoff, Greg. "The Private Photo Shoot that Sparked a War Inside Van Halen". Cuepoint. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  5. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2937696/soundtrack
  6. ^ https://www.hypable.com/everybody-wants-some-richard-linklater-interview/
  7. ^ Brudvig, Erik (August 5, 2009). "Guitar Hero Van Halen Song List". IGN. IGN. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  8. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Consumer Guide Reviews: Women and Children First". Robert Christgau. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
  9. ^ a b Fricke, David (June 26, 1980). "Van Halen – Women and Children First". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on October 2, 2007. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
  10. ^ "Van Halen: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on December 10, 2012. Retrieved November 24, 2012.
  11. ^ Galbraith, David (January 21, 1989). "Van Halen 'Women and Children First'". Kerrang!. 222. London, UK: Spotlight Publications Ltd.
  12. ^ "The 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
  13. ^ "Women and Children First Billboard Albums". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
  14. ^ "Women and Children First Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
  15. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Van Halen – Women and Children First". Music Canada.
  16. ^ "French album certifications – Van Halen – Women and Children First" (in French). InfoDisc. Select VAN HALEN and click OK. 
  17. ^ "American album certifications – Van Halen – Women & Children First". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.