Van Halen – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991)

The unusual name of this album makes sense to one if it is abbreviated. It’s a historical reference, where the word F-U-C-K came from. The original name of the album was going to be far more explicit.

This is the third Van Halen album with Sammy Hagar. Despite there being some ongoing tension within the band, it’s a great album and excellent listen. Let’s dive in.

We begin with Poundcake which has near silence, before going into a power drill based intro and a great rock song. Sammy Hagar’s vocals are top here. He and the rest of Van Halen kick ass. It equates food to sex, hence the title of the song. It’s a great opening song to the album.

The next song Judgement Day is an underrated and pulsating rock song. It utilises the Floyd Rose tremolo system on electric guitar to great effect, and sounds mega. Sammy Hagar really sings this well, not bad for a guy who at this point had been doing music professionally for nearly two decades.

Spanked is the next song, and sounds dark and dirty. It’s supposed to be. It’s a somewhat humourous piece about a phone sex experience. There is baritone guitar here too. It’s a good song, but sadly not a great song.

Runaround was a hit single off the album, and a live favourite. It’s likely about chasing girls, and has a surprise tempo change in the middle of the song. A decent song, and it comes across that way.

The next song, Pleasure Dome, is probably too long and boring for most. It seemingly is, although Eddie Van Halen plays very well on this number. and his (then) new Ernie Ball Music Man EVH Signature Model sounds too good to miss. Which is a redeeming feature of listening to this song.

A really good song In ‘n’ Out comes next. It sounds a heck of a lot like Led Zeppelin, but intentionally so. There are some great riffs, a wah-wah solo and Sammy Hagar screaming in a sexual way towards the end. It’s a very intense and good listen.

Man On A Mission begins with some awesome tapping and harmonics before launching into another sexual based song. This one could have been shortened though, it doesn’t sound as consistent as the other songs on the album.

The Dream Is Over is a call to arms for Van Halen fans, talking about overcoming issues in society in general. It’s got a great riff, even if it was not released as a single.

Probably the most personal Van Hagar track is Right Now. It has a history about it from Sammy Hagar’s perspective. It begins with a great piano piece, before launching into a memorable and much loved song about taking the opportunity to do something in life.

The instrumental guitar piece by Eddie Van Halen is his response to the previous track. 316 was devoted to Eddie’s son Wolfgang Van Halen. It’s a great fingerpicked piece, and sounds awesome, even today.

Top Of The World is the last tune here and it sounds perfect as a sort of encore number. It was intended to be that way. It lifts the outro riff from the band’s earlier hit Jump but sounds completely different. It’s a good way to finish off the album.

This is one of the better Van Hagar albums. Sadly, things fell apart within the band (not for the first or last time) and a lot of damage was done to the different Van Halen members of the band. Forget that, this is a very good and underrated rock album. Some of their best Van Hagar work is here.

Sit back and enjoy.

8/10

Primal Scream – Screamadelica (1991)

Primal Scream became a success with this album. Prior to this, they were very desperate to make some sort of success and had released some rather ordinary rock material. It’s not dissimilar a journey that fellow contemporaries Underworld had experienced. Once the single Loaded arrived, it was played heavily in clubs and underground raves everywhere.

This album came next. It is a genuine classic in its own right. It has a fusion of psychedelic and electronic sounds done so well that their earlier mediocre rock efforts are forgivable. Let’s listen through this, track by track.

Movin’ On Up is just that. It’s a gospel house like piece and introduced the group into their new format. The stoned sounding singing from Bobby Gillespie suits this piece very well. It’s a quick and catchy piece with a variety of instrumentation to boot. The screaming guitars are fantastic here. A nice start to the album.

Slip Inside This House was originally done by the 13th Floor Elevators on their own Easter Everywhere album. It features the ‘amen break’ and some great textures and a superb bassline. Still, the Primal Scream boys here match the 13th Floor Elevators effort with this cover. It’s catchy and brilliant. Welcome to the 1990s, ladies, and gentlemen.

The next piece Don’t Fight It, Feel It is another great piece featuring female vocals which suit this piece perfectly. “I’m going to live the life I love, I’m going to love the life I live.” is chanted here. It sounds very danceable and good quality, and unlike most dance music, this is not a throwaway piece. Some tripped out sounds are here too to keep you listening on.

After that, we go downtempo and heavily psychedelic with Higher Than The Sun. It talks directly about hallucinogenic drugs and enhancing one’s experience with such experiences from that. The stoned vocals are here again from Bobby Gillespie, the lead singer. It’s a brilliant and openly druggy piece. You can easily hear how inspired these guys were making this piece.

Inner Flight comes next. Some great vocal melodies kick off a minor key track, with a psychedelic keyboard patch that sounds a lot like Coldplay’s Clocks. No second-guessing where Coldplay stole that one from. But hey, it’s chilled and relaxing. Let the music guide you on this journey, as it is tasty listening. The outro has a wonderful vocal melody to boot.

Come Together is an extended piece, going over 10 minutes long. It’s a neo-hippie call to arms. It’s an ode to music and a very good one. There are numerous sounds, well-chosen and a great sample is here about the true nature of music. If you wish to hear a song that will destroy barriers for music listeners, this should be it. It never seems boring at all through the 10 minutes at all. Smile and enjoy the numerous textures and singing here.

The original Andy Weatherall Loaded arrives with a sample from a cult film at the start, before going into Cuban style beats, piano, real bass guitar, and a melancholy slide guitar melody. Horns and fiddles join the mix too. It’s a truly great piece of music, and is very moving and enjoyable, all the way through. It proves that even using computers, human beings can create a great and emotional piece of music. The world of music never was the same after this song, in that respect.

After that, Damaged arrives. It’s a downtempo piece and sounds very gentle in approach. It sounds melancholic and loving towards a partner but has some great vocal harmonies in it as well. It’s a reflection on a past love but works well here. Some nice Fender Stratocaster sounding playing is here to top it all off amongst everything else. Good job.

I’m Comin’ Down is a very low-tempo and subdued piece. It, of course, refers to a post MDMA/Ecstasy come down, or a comedown of a drug of a similar sort. It has some truly interesting and wonderful saxophone and other electronic-based sounds here. It’s a gentle and kind piece to listen to. This album is really very awesome in many ways, and this proves the musicality of Primal Scream right here. A must-listen for relaxation.

Higher Than The Sun – A Dub Symphony In Two Parts has the legendary bassist Jah Wobble from early era Public Image Limited featured on this track. It’s very much a reprise of Higher Than The Sun and acts as an almost concept album like idea for a track. Although not officially a concept album, Screamadelica could be considered one. Some space like tripped out sounds makes up this piece. Good to hear that these guys had many ideas for our own listening enjoyment. The bassline and breakbeats are classy too.

The last cut, Shine Like Stars, sounds Syd Barrett-esque with the twinkling melody-based sound. It’s simply a nice song to finish off this album. It’s gentle and reassuring, sounding almost like King Crimson. Mint.

This album saved Primal Scream, both financially and musically. It sounds so well done, even today, blowing a lot of your mainstream R & B away. If you like to hear the most psychedelic electronic sounds out there, you should listen to this album. You will not be disappointed.

9/10