Jes G. (jesgear) from DAVENPORT, IA Reviewed on 11/15/2014...
"Top of the World"
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Patty R. from MERRILL, WI Reviewed on 4/14/2010...
van halen at his best!
Kevin C. (FatBack) from LELAND, NC Reviewed on 12/5/2009...
A good Cd with some excellent material. Poundcake, Runaround, The Dream Is Over, Right Now and Top of the World are the best of the bunch. One of the better Hagar/Van Halen albums. This is a must have for Van Halen fans because all of the best material is not on the best of Van Halen Vol. 1. Good choice.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Van Halen return to their hard-rock roots
Daniel Maltzman | Arlington, MA, USA | 09/15/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In 1991 Van Halen released their ninth studio album "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge." It was their third album with lead singer Sammy Hagar and their first collaboration with producer Ted Templeman since "1984" (1984). Perhaps because Templeman was back at the helm as co-producer, "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" rocks a lot harder than its two processors "5150" (1986) and "OU812" (1988).
Released in the waning days of pop-metal, right before the onset of the alternative rock boom of '91, "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" eschews many of the commercial aspects of "5150" and "OU812." While the album overall is quite radio/MTV friendly, the album lacks the ballads and keyboards of Van Hagar's first two albums.
I find "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" to sound more like Sammy Hagar's 80s Geffen albums-"Standing Hampton" (1981), "Three Lock Box" (1982) and "VOA" (1984) as opposed to the early Van Hagar albums or classic Roth-era Van Halen. In short, "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" is meat-and-potatoes, no nonsense AOR rock n' roll.
Van Halen and Hagar's third collaboration saw all involved return to their roots, more or less. The band opted to make a great hard-rock album, as opposed to a more commercial adult-contemporary one.
While "5150" and "OU812" were strong, the band hadn't sounded so good in years. Unlike "OU812," you can actually hear Michael Anthony's bass. Drummer Alex Van Halen didn't play on some lame drum machine (as he did on "5150") and the tone and mix sounds much better here than it did on "5150" and "OU812." Sammy Hagar's lyrics showed more depth and he, as always, gives a fine vocal performance. And, it goes without saying that Eddie Van Halen sounds as great as ever, contributing at least a few screeching solos to each song. And while the band certainly rocks harder here than they did on the two proceeding albums, the song-writing was still strong. The album is filled with good hooks and sing-along melodies. Although some songs are better than others, there really isn't any filler on "For Unlawful Canal Knowledge."
Up to this point in the band's career, the overall tone of Van Halen's catalogue was celebratory. "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" represents the last album of that era. It was really the last feel-good Van Halen album. Although "Balance" (1995) is a fine album, it was a distinctly dark album released in a musical landscape that had abolished all traces of 80s rock (Van Halen, KISS, Aerosmith, were among those spared). "Van Halen 3" (1998) saw Van Halen experiment and venture out in a way that Van Halen's fans almost unanimously rejected. "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" was released at a time when bands like Poison and Warrant enjoyed mainstream popularity and huge commercial successes. Much like "Balance" reflected the dark musical landscape of the times, "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" reflected the sunny careless days of Beverley Hills 90210 and George H.W. Bush's "1000 points of light." That is not to say that "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" lacks substance, as the band shows depth in songs like "Right Now" and "Judgment Day." But the album's overall tone is bright and optimistic, unlike "Balance" which is pessimistic and dark.
"For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" opens up strong with the arena-rock anthem "Poundcake" which was the band's most rocking song since "Panama" (from "1984"). "
"Judgment Day," has a great groove and Hagar shows some depth with his questioning of the religious right and televangelists.
Although "Spanked" is mid-tempo, it never gets tepid. The lyrics are a little stupid, but stupid in a naïve, Sammy Hagar/jock rock kind-of-way, so I'll give Hagar a pass.
"Runaround" is just a fun song that keeps up the momentum.
"Pleasure Dome," whose meaning is obscure, is said to be a song about masturbation. This song has an almost mystical vibe to it, with a really cool drum roll-it's different for Van Halen and a really cool song.
Although the title of "In and Out" may lead one to believe it's just another stupid song about sex, it actually is far more substantive than that. The major point of the song being that life is hard and you have to pay debts throughout life.
Although not an album highlight, the catchy mid-paced "Man on a Mission" keeps the album going.
"The Dream is Over" is a personal favorite of mine. It has a great infectious groove, catchy sing-along chorus, and killer solos-in short, it has all the ingredients of the perfect Van Halen song. It's a song about letting go, of letting a dream die and moving on. "The Dream is Over" demonstrates Hagar's everyman wisdom at its best.
The album's huge hit and centerpiece "Right Now" introduced "Generation Y" to Van Halen. "Right Now" should silence Van Halen's detractors who claim that the band never had any songs with substance. Sammy Hagar's lyrics may not be witty and clever like Roth's, or profound like Lennon and Dylan's. However, as previously stated, Hagar's lyrics do encompass an "everyman wisdom"-a blue-collar insight that you learn though the school-of-hard-knocks, as opposed to reading Plato. "Right Now" shows this kind of insight. And while the song's theme-live in the present, forget about the past, don't worry about the future-may seem obvious, Hagar's lyrics are clever and memorable. He tells the theme in a way that puts life in perspective.
"316" is a short lullaby-like acoustic instrumental tribute to Eddie Van Halen's son, Wolfgang.
I see the upbeat "Top of the World" as a sequel to "Dreams" (from "5150"), but with guitar in place of synthesizers. This upbeat rocker is strong enough and a good way to conclude the album.
In all honesty, "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" can't touch the classic first six Van Halen albums-but very few ones can. Nor is "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" quite as strong as some of Sammy Hagar's solo albums-"Danger Zone" (1980), "Standing Hampton" (1981), and "Marching to Mars" (1997)-as some examples. Still, although Van Halen purists will never accept anything after "1984," "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" is a strong album that should please most fans.
Van Hagar in their prime
Brad | CT | 02/16/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Many people may know this album best for the anthem/ballad "Right Now", which to this day is a fantastic, heartfelt song. But what many perhaps forget is that up until that track, which is the 9th track on the album, all of the tracks are pretty much hard rock. This in fact is probably the hardest rocking Van Hagar album of them all.Sure "Poundcake" is a bit immature, but is fun hard rock. "Judgement Day" is an even better rocker, while "Runaround" is fantastically catchy. "Man On A Mission" could easily be the theme of this album, as Van Halen seemed to be on a mission to flat-out rock on this album. "The Dream Is Over" is an awesome anthem that starts off rocking hard but mellows out a bit at the chorus--the first sign of things slowing down on the album at all. And for sure "Top Of The World", while poppy, is a very positive way to end the album. This is the closest thing to a second ballad on the album (after "Right Now"), but it still rocks as a closing track.I love all of the Van Hagar albums, ranking only "OU812" under five stars (although that album certainly has many strengths as well). While "5150" is still my favorite Van Hagar, this one is very close. A fantastic rock album that was this great band in their prime. Strongly recommended."
The Ultimate Gumption Album!
Steven Menzer | Baltimore, MD United States | 12/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Following the previous, more poppy and ballad-laden Van Hagar albums, 5150 and 0U812, Eddie and Sammy were ready to concoct a rocker - And they succeeded in creating the most thematically coherent VH album yet. Coming as it did in 1991, just as grunge was about to dethrone pop metal, this almost seemed to anticipate the more raw, and less sugar sweet taste of things to come. In a nutshell, the album is about what's good in life, why it's hard to obtain, the struggles along the way, and why it's all worthwhile.From the opening drill sound, the tectonic rumble of, "Poundcake", implores you to grab life by the balls and get your hands on some of that, "Fine, fine stuff". "Judgement Day" is a simple headbanger song which defends the logic of procrastination. "Spanked", is a shrewd, honest and funny look at the one-way street of phone sex. "Runaround", expresses the frustrations of the real life battle to find a lover. In "Pleasure Dome", Sammy explains, "I want my control back, but I'm afraid I'll lose that feeling"."In 'N' Out", marks the beginning of the turnaround towards acceptance of the hardships one must endure to succeed. "Man On A Mission", is full-steam-ahead determination to persevere. The tight riffing of, "The Dream Is Over", wakes you up to the realization of the limitations of life, and the need to put aside your envy and jealousy to make the most of what you've got. The immediacy of "Right Now", fills one with resolve to begin anew the fruitful path of proactive behaviour. "316" is a winsome instrumental for Ed's newborn son Wolfgang. "Top Of The World", is the summit towards which the whole album has strived.Whether you're jogging for exercise, cruising on the freeway, or walking around the city, this album is like rocket fuel for your mind when you're travelling. It's too positive and inspiring to just sit around and hear. The bandmembers have never sounded more excited and eager to be involved with each other. There should be a picture of this album in the dictionary beside the word "MOTIVATION!""
A relunctant positive review from a DLR era fan
Muddy Moe | Plano, TX United States | 06/24/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, yes I'm one of those VH fans for whom VH was my favorite band during the DLR era and I just never could get into the Sammy Hagar stuff. It's not that I was nuts about Dave either. He wasn't why I was into the band. And it's not that I wasn't prepared to like Hagar. I just never thought the band gelled together after Roth left.But "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" made me reconsider. This is the first album with Hagar, in my opinion, that actually sounds like Van Halen. The others had a song here and there that sounded like Van Halen, and a lot of songs that sounded like Sammy Hagar solo material (with guitar and drums by Eddie and Alex). This album has a certain confidence and passion that was just lacking on 5150 and OU812.Hagar also forgot to write a cheesy pop ballad with the word "love" in the title for this album. I can't say I'm disappointed by that. All Van Hagar albums have a few radio friendly ballads, and the couple on this album, "Right Now" and "The Dream is Over" are way better. "Top of the World" isn't a ballad, but it's also poppy and also much better than the pop songs on the earlier Van Hagar albums. And they finally figured out how to rock! "Poundcake" may have stupid lyrics, but it's pretty cool. "Judgement Day" is even better.My only remaining comment is about the title of the album. I don't want to sound like a stuffed shirt, but come on. Did "Beavis and Butthead" suggest this title? I've always found it funny that Hagar writes these sappy love ballads and then also makes some of the most sexist and immature comments in other songs. I don't know if the title was his idea, but I'm guessing "yes."Not a bad album though. Check it out."
Keeps you rockin'
Muddy Moe | 11/19/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Even though this is an older album, I still to this day listen to it...alot. Eddie's guitar is great as usual, and Sammy's vocals are outstanding. Its ashame he's no longer with them. Songs like "Poundcake" "Judgement Day" and "Man on a Mission" let you know just exactly who it is you're listening to. There's no mistaking Eddie's crunch sound on the guitar, and Sammy's dynamic vocals. Alex keeps it alive pounding the skins in a way only he can, and finally Mikey's bass is very noticable! If ever you think this album is under par, take a listen to VAN HALEN 3...you'll greatly appreciate the hard driving yet melodic Cardinal Knowledge album. Lets try another album like this one guys!"