Van Halen's third record in as many years, Women and Children First doesn't surrender anything to its two famous predecessors. Eddie Van Halen, David Lee Roth, and company go for broke, amping up the energy and escalating the heaviness on a concise, hard-hitting 9-song set that also throws a few surprises into the mix.
Anchored by the one-two punch of "And the Cradle Will Rock" and "Everybody Wants Some!!," the 1980 release marks the first and only time the group employed a female vocalist, as Nicolette Larson sings on the chorus during "Could This Be Magic?" In addition, the opening track features a phase-shifter-effected Wurlitzer piano being played through a 100-watt Marshall amplifier, the change in instrumentation a hint of the ambition that was to come.
Make no mistake: Women and Children First knows how to party hard, but there are also undercurrents of somber tension missing on the first two albums. Van Halen matures here and it's a welcome evolution, as confirmed by the power ballad "In a Simple Rhyme" and country-flavored "Take Your Whiskey Home." But above all, this album rocks harder than any other VH effort.