Van Halen: Women and Children First (1980) Song by Song

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by GodShifter, Nov 30, 2017.

  1. GodShifter

    GodShifter Starless and Bible Black Sabbath® Thread Starter

    Location:
    Dallas, TX, USA
    Feeling ambitious, I thought I’d start a track by track thread for one of my favorite bands Van Halen and their third album, Women and Children First which was released in 1980 (this was actually the third live show I ever got to attend, in fact, so the album has some great memories for me).

    The background of this one is pretty much like the first two Van Halen records in that it was produced by Ted Templeman and long time engineer, Donn Landee. The major differences between Women and Children First and the first two records is this record contains more overdubs and less background vocals. It’s also probably a heavier album than the first two but, in typical Van Halen fashion, fairly idiosyncratic in that there are few tracks on it which veer heavily away from Van Halen’s typical guitar/bass/drums hard rock formula. The nonsensical “Tora Tora”, the Hawaiian flavored “Could This Be Magic?”, and the tongue in cheek, fast cruncher “Loss Control” are examples of this. That said, it’s also an album with some incredibly hard hitting rockers with some truly memorable riffs.

    Starting off the album is the first single “And The Cradle Will Rock” which we will look at first.



    AND THE CRADLE WILL ROCK
    (E. Van Halen, A. Van Halen, M. Anthony, D. Roth) (3:31)

    “And The Cradle Will Rock” is one of the first songs that Van Halen used keyboards on. In the studio, Eddie played them (breaking two keys on the keyboard from bashing it so hard) but Michael would play them live for the song (using a bomb shaped keyboard and eschewing the bass completely). Eddie claims that the band was against him playing keyboards on stage as they didn’t want a guitar hero behind a piano, thus Michael playing them live.

    The beginning of the song sounds like a guitar but it’s really a phase shifter effected Wurlitzer electric piano played through Eddie’s 100-watt Marshall Plexi amplifier.

    What is most notable for this track is the overdubbed guitar that comes out of both channels during the verses. While Eddie playing the crunchy, slightly staccato riff on the right channel, he’s adding a lot of atmosphere and counter melody on the left (like at 0:31) plus some lead fills. The wurlitzer is not overly noticeable as it blends in with Eddie’s playing on the right channel (see the video by Derek Sherinian (formerly of Dream Theater, Black Country Communion, etc) show an example of this below). However, at 1:33 the keys come more into focus as they provide backing for Eddie’s short solo (apparently inspired by Allan Holdsworth per Eddie).

    According to Eddie, the version on the album is a first take as were many of the others. “And The Cradle Will Rock” is a good song, but it’s never been one of my favorites as I think there are far better ones on the album than this. Of course the song is ripe with clever DLR lines such as, “have you seen junior’s grades?” which is a classic (he’d change his up for the 2007 tour and say, “have you seen Wolfie’s grades?" - referring, of course, to Eddie’s son who had joined to play bass for the band). I’ve also always liked the clever lyric “and he’s unemployed; his folks are overjoyed”; good word play by Roth as was/is often the case.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
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  2. GodShifter

    GodShifter Starless and Bible Black Sabbath® Thread Starter

    Location:
    Dallas, TX, USA


    Here's Derek Sherinian explaining how the wurlitzer was incorporated into "And the Cradle Will Rock".
     
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  3. Michael Rose

    Michael Rose Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Davie,Fl
    Fantastic and catchy song. I always looked forward to hearing it from my VH greatest hits vol.1 CD I had back in college.
     
  4. YardByrd

    YardByrd Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    My favorite Van Halen record for some reason... I think the debut is better but since I got this first circa '81 it's always been my fave... love side 1 especially... what CD is the preferred one? I still have my original vinyl but it's in storage in the States and this thread is sure to inspire a VH buying frenzy... gee, thanks @GodShifter I just saw that same movie, eh? ;-)
     
  5. Musicman1998

    Musicman1998 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Georgia
    And The Cradle Will Rock...:
    We kick off the album in style, kicked off by the keys which have some ****ing balls to them, not like when Eddie was on that Casio bulls***, with Bette Miller singing some tripe ballad over it. Mike and Al coming in at :04, and they lay down such a tasty pocket, and Dave just steals the show as he always does, he just oozes charisma and presence on this track, he is Diamond Davw for sure, and yes I love the whole Have you seen Junior's grades? at 1:51, and then the solo, which really bursts open this tune. This is an awesome song, and not even my favorites on here, that's how outstanding this album is!!!!! On a scale of one to ten, I give it Van Halen with Roth.
     
  6. CirculationUnderflow

    CirculationUnderflow Forum Resident

    Location:
    florida
    WOW FW on Weakest link with WACF on track by track

    BOTH ALBUMS ARE STANDARDS TO WHICH BANDS SHOULD STRIVE TO ATTAIN

    Nothing bad to say about either album

    Just crank up TAKE YOUR WHISKEY HOME
     
  7. Musicman1998

    Musicman1998 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Georgia
    American Bandstand:
     
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  8. GodShifter

    GodShifter Starless and Bible Black Sabbath® Thread Starter

    Location:
    Dallas, TX, USA
    I couldn’t find a really good live performance of this. I was hoping to find one with Michael playing the bomb shaped keyboard; no luck but maybe I didn’t look hard enough.
     
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  9. Musicman1998

    Musicman1998 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Georgia
    Live in 2007:
     
  10. Cooks420

    Cooks420 Forum Resident

    Location:
    NY
    Godshifter at it again, kicking ass and taking names.

    “... it’s more than just an aggravation.”

    I like Cradle, but don’t love it. And I especially don’t love Cradle as an opening track because it’s a slower tune that doesn’t represent the usual high energy the almighty VH represents to me. That being said, I’m not sure there is an “opening track” type of song on this album, so I suppose this will do by default :)

    DLR’s lyrics are always wonderful, and these are no exception. With Diamond Dave, I can never tell if he’s writing via stream of consciousness, by topic or something else, but he always knows how to tell the story in a convincing way.

    The main lick is simply ok; it’s not a riff I would point to as being quintessential Eddie or something extremely memorable. Alex’ drums ALWAYS sound like HIS drums on the first six albums (greatest hihat ever) and Michael is just there, laying down the foundation for which EVH to shred over.

    Good, not great.
    6/10
     
  11. Musicman1998

    Musicman1998 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Georgia
    I wouldn't say Michael is always just there, he can do some cool little bass runs when it's called for, including on this album, which is helpful since as @GodShifter pointed Out, the backing vocals (Mike's tue calling card) aren't as prominent as on the last two.
     
  12. Cooks420

    Cooks420 Forum Resident

    Location:
    NY
    Please don’t misunderstand - I LOVE Michael Anthony. He’s one of the most underrated rock bassists ever, and is the best vocalist VH ever had. Trust me, I know and deeply respect his musical prowess.

    That being said, Cradle just isn’t a song of which his talents are greatly called for, at least in my opinion.
     
  13. Musicman1998

    Musicman1998 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Georgia
    Yeah true. He really isn't given mic to do on this song. Really only Dave is a true standout on this tune, and maybe Eddie, but as the old saying goes, Al and Mike are playing for the song, which doesn't give them a chance to show what they got
     
  14. GodShifter

    GodShifter Starless and Bible Black Sabbath® Thread Starter

    Location:
    Dallas, TX, USA
    I think there’s always been a question in my mind as how much bass guitar is Eddie vs Michael on most of VH albums when they were both in the band. Michael doesn’t have a distinct style particularly so I think Eddie could copy it fairly easily.
     
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  15. Cooks420

    Cooks420 Forum Resident

    Location:
    NY
    And not only that, if we believe Sammy’s accounting of previous events, MA was essentially forced to play simple, plodding quarter or eighth notes for the majority of most songs, for numerous reasons - none of which making EVH look very nice :)
     
  16. Musicman1998

    Musicman1998 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Georgia
    I know Mike has owned up to being replaced for most of III, and I once heard a rumor that he hasn't played any bass on record since this album. I don't necessarily believe that, but I wouldn't be suprised if Eddie had ever replaced him before Cherone, especially giving how pedestrian a lot of the later bass playing is, and the tunes we know it's Ed on bass, he's doing pretty pedestrian stuff, clearly doesn't think much of the instrument (unless it's his son)
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
  17. SonicBob

    SonicBob Forum Resident

    Location:
    West Virginia
    I've always loved this album as well as Fair Warning and to me, this is prime VH at its best. "And the Cradle Will Rock" is a great opener for their third effort, I love Eddie's guitars on this and his solos are raw, gritty, but with a touch of finesse and a refined style that carries throughout the recording. 10 out of 10 or an A+ rating for "Cradle".
     
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  18. GodShifter

    GodShifter Starless and Bible Black Sabbath® Thread Starter

    Location:
    Dallas, TX, USA
    Yeah, this definitely has been the blueprint for Van Halen in terms of the bass guitar re the rhythm section. I’ve always believed the bass is minimal so it doesn’t distract from Eddie’s playing. Besides, I don’t think Ed plays off the bass much at all, but more his brother. The bass is a necessary evil for him, but it’s highly uncreative in VH until Wolfgang joined who, as guitar player first, couldn’t contain himself and had to show his chops.

    Furthering the Michael or Eddie debate, Eddie has made some mean comments in the past that most of the bass on VH albums is him. Anthony is actually a good player (by evidence of Chickenfoot) so playing in Van Halen must have been frustrating for a myriad of reasons.
     
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  19. Cooks420

    Cooks420 Forum Resident

    Location:
    NY
    In regards to Wolfgang ... I’m not sure if I like the bass on “... Truth” simply because I’m not used to the low end doubling the guitars a la Billy Sheehan. Despite Wolfgang being extremely proficient, in another sense it simply sounds wrong for VH.

    EDIT: Also, I LOVE that “Let’s Get Rockin’” was recorded for the album, but absolutely ABHOR the lyrics being rewritten to that space crap.
     
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  20. GodShifter

    GodShifter Starless and Bible Black Sabbath® Thread Starter

    Location:
    Dallas, TX, USA
    Yeah, it’s more in line with Eat Em’ and Smile.
     
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  21. vamborules

    vamborules Forum Resident

    Location:
    CT
    Unfortunately, there is almost no video of that tour and what little does exist doesn't have 'And the Cradle Will Rock'.

    but here's a pic of what that looked like.

    [​IMG]
     
  22. GodShifter

    GodShifter Starless and Bible Black Sabbath® Thread Starter

    Location:
    Dallas, TX, USA
    Exactly how I remember it! Thanks.
     
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  23. Spear and Magic Helmet

    Spear and Magic Helmet Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    My favorite VH record. And The Cradle Will Rock: While I agree there are better songs to open this record with musically, this is really one of the first tunes that the lyrics matter in the VH catalogue. I think that's the reason for the oopening slot. They're putting their fans (and parents) on notice that it's OK to be a rebel rocker. The song only slows down once with Dave asking, "Have you seen junior's grades?" The answer comes with a blistering EVH solo that let's us all know exactly what junior's been doing with all his time. Love this song.
     
  24. WhoTapes1

    WhoTapes1 Forum Resident

    Location:
    NC, United States
    Fortunately one of the very best sounding Van Halen audience bootleg recordings is from the W&CF tour - titled ‘London Invasion 1980’.
     
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  25. vamborules

    vamborules Forum Resident

    Location:
    CT
    It's interesting that they dropped the song from the set after the '80 tour and it wasn't played again until '07. Kind of funny because that was a big song for them. Not necessarily chart-wise as a single but it got lots of airplay. I guess they just didn't think it worked that well live.
     
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  26. Oliver

    Oliver Forum Resident

    Great album (love pretty much all the Roth era VH)-definitely ups the straight hard rock and without the pop found on the earlier albums. Not much to add to Cradle other than while not one of my favorites, a very solid opener.
     
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