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
  1. "And the Cradle Will Rock..."
    Released: May 1980

Women and Children First is the third studio album by American rock band Van Halen, released on March 26, 1980, on Warner Bros. Records. Produced by Ted Templeman and engineered by Donn Landee, it was the first Van Halen album not to feature any cover songs, 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 Eddie Van Halen's 1960s model 100-watt Marshall Plexi amplifier.[2]

Like the two preceding albums, Women and Children First was recorded in Hollywood at Sunset Studios, in about two weeks' time. The album is a progression, though, in that it features more studio overdubs and less emphasis on backing vocals, partly because two of the songs, "In a Simple Rhyme" and "Take Your Whiskey Home", had already been written and recorded in a 1974 Cherokee Studios demo, before Michael Anthony had joined them, albeit both with some differences lyrically and musically. "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, went platinum within a year 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record Guide: The '80sB[5]
Rolling StoneFavorable[6]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[7]

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".[6] 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 ... a little serious", noting "there's a bit of a dark heart beating on this record".[1]

Kerrang! magazine listed the album at number 30 among the "100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time",[8] and Rolling Stone listed the album at number 36 in their list of "The 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time".[9]

Track listing[edit]

All songs by Van Halen.

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


Van Halen

Additional musicians



Charting Singles[edit]

Song Chart Position
"And the Cradle Will Rock..." Billboard Hot 100 55
Canada (RPM) Singles 81


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[22] 2× Platinum 200,000^
France (SNEP)[23] Gold 100,000*
Netherlands (NVPI)[24] Gold 50,000^
United States (RIAA)[25] 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. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Consumer Guide Reviews: Women and Children First". Robert Christgau. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "Van Halen: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on December 10, 2012. Retrieved November 24, 2012.
  8. ^ Galbraith, David (January 21, 1989). "Van Halen 'Women and Children First'". Kerrang!. Vol. 222. London, UK: Spotlight Publications Ltd.
  9. ^ "The 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
  10. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 0203a". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved February 22, 2020.
  11. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Van Halen – Women and Children First" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved February 22, 2020.
  12. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Van Halen – Women and Children First" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved February 22, 2020.
  13. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005 (in Japanese). Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
  14. ^ "Charts.nz – Van Halen – Women and Children First". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 22, 2020.
  15. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Van Halen – Women and Children First". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 22, 2020.
  16. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Van Halen – Women and Children First". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 22, 2020.
  17. ^ "Van Halen | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved February 22, 2020.
  18. ^ "Van Halen Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved February 22, 2020.
  19. ^ "Album Top 40 slágerlista – 2021. 3. hét" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ. Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  20. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Album 1980". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved August 7, 2021.
  21. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1980". Billboard. Retrieved August 7, 2021.
  22. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Van Halen – Women and Children First". Music Canada.
  23. ^ "French album certifications – Van Halen – Women and Children First" (in French). InfoDisc. Select VAN HALEN and click OK. 
  24. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Van Halen – Women and Children First" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved February 26, 2020. Enter Women and Children First in the "Artiest of titel" box.
  25. ^ "American album certifications – Van Halen – Women & Children First". Recording Industry Association of America.

Further reading[edit]

Templeman, Ted; Renoff, Greg (2020). Ted Templeman: A Platinum Producer's Life In Music. Toronto: ECW Press. pp. 306–10. ISBN 9781770414839. OCLC 1121143123.