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 It’s a historical reference, where the word F-U-C-K came from.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

Montrose – Montrose (1973)

For a debut album, this is a winner. Sammy Hagar found Ronnie Montrose on his travels on the west coast of the USA and became the singer in his band. Ironically, Sammy Hagar would become the second singer in Van Halen. They, and many others, loved this recording. It’s a definite classic and shines bright, even today.

Rock The Nation starts off the album, and it is truly awesome. It’s a rifftastic and wonderful number. And Sammy Hagar’s unique high octave voice is here. Interstellar Overdrive Part Two? Not quite, but this is very, very good indeed.

Bad Motor Scooter is next, and has some interesting guitar sounds on it. It keeps this song alive, and shows just how underrated this band was at the time. It’s a classic rock tune, listen to it and smile. Sounds much like a distorted Gibson Les Paul with a slide piece added to it. Nice.

The next cut is definitely Interstellar Overdrive Part Two. Space Station #5 is a great piece with some awesome trippy guitar sounds on it. It then bursts into a loud and raw rocker which makes you want to go to the moon and back. Brilliant. It has a great twist at the end.

The follow up is more a song like piece, I Don’t Want It. It has an anthemic chorus to boot. It also shows a great riff off throughout the song. These guys obviously knew how to rock, and very well at that.

Good Rockin’ Tonight arrives next and is an up-tempo piece about dancing, and just having fun in general. Nowadays the lyrics and music style would be canned, but this is just really well done. Was music really better back in those days? We will never know for sure.

Rock Candy – what a tune! It sounds awesome, from the drum lead off, to the riff and to the main part of Sammy Hagar’s singing. Everything about it hits the spot, and is likely the best song from the album. A must hear.

The next song, One Thing On My Mind, is about the music, and the love of a woman who likes to dance away the night. It’s a great anthemic tune, and by this point, we know we have a really great album on our hands.

The last song on the album, Make It Last, is a good piece to close this album. It does sound a little longer than should be, but still, it fades out nicely and we conclude this wonderful album.

Real hard rock starts here. The album has sold steadily over the years, and Sammy Hagar became a star over time. Be sure to check out the reissue with many demos and other goodies that have been previously unreleased.

8/10

Kid Rock – The History Of Rock (2000)

Kid Rock was on a roll. After the release of his third album Devil Without A Cause, he finally broke into the mainstream and never looked back. Or at least we thought so. He decided to rework some of his older songs, as he now had the time and money to do so. It was a good move.

This album is mostly reworked songs he has done before, but the reworked pieces here are brilliant. There are some new songs as well to sink our teeth into, so let’s observe what Kid Rock has on offer here.

There is a short Intro which plays a track Kid Rock made way back in the 1980s, along with a deep voiceover summarising why we are here.

The first track leads us onto the single and tune named American Bad Ass. This heavily samples Metallica’s Sad But True and is a great rock song by Kid Rock. It shows off his selfish lyrical style and bent, but is just fantastic to listen to. An awesome rock/metal song with wicked guitar solos.

Prodigal Son is Kid Rock’s rework of the original. The original was fun, but this version is much better and shows Kid Rock excelling at singing and interesting guitar work. It’s a good one to listen to.

Paid is next and is a semi-disco funky track. It’s pretty direct “I’ll be in the house getting paid like Trump”. Mint, it sounds unusual and awesome simultaneously.

The follow up is Early Mornin’ Stoned Pimp. The rework here is far better than the original, getting fellow rapper and midget Joe C to do the main reworked part of the song. Fantastic and fun. Joe C was part of the Twisted Brown Trucker band that Kid Rock assembled for musical purposes.

The strange and punky Dark And Grey follow, which is a rather weak track. Still, it has some selfishly loveable lyrics in it. It is quite short, so not too overwhelming.

3 Sheets To The Wind (What’s My Name) is a great song which has a crowd chanting Kid Rock’s name. It’s a decent call and response song. It’s not hugely different from the original, however.

Abortion is a terrible song, even for Kid Rock. Ironically, it was a new release at the time as well. Kid Rock could do much better than this song, and it should have been removed from the recording.

The ode to younger days is here in I Wanna Go Back. It’s a great rework of the original that sounds punchy and reflective on Kid Rock spending time on his music when younger. It’s an awesome piece.

‘Ya Keep On is a fantastic rework of the original and breathes life into the song itself. The backing singers sound truly wonderful here and add depth and emotion to this song.

Fuck That is a trashy song but with a catchy chorus. It’s a typical Kid Rock song, with some diverse musical influences in it, however.

The rework of Fuck You Blind is so much better than the original, that it turns crap into lyrical gold. It’s a sleazy, funky piece which demands heavy listening. It’s a great song. It has the most explicit lyrics in it, which adds value to the song.

The Yardbirds direct rip off Born 2 B A Hick is fun but so obviously unoriginal that maybe The Yardbirds could sue Kid Rock for this song. Who knows? But it’s a short song prior to the final piece on the album.

The last song is a rework of the highly controversial My Oedipus Complex which is a multi-faceted rant about Kid Rock being overparented by his father. It’s intense listening if you are up to it. It sounds like a million dollars compared to the original. The album is silent for a while after this song finishes before the deep voiceover through the album stating the main Kid Rock ending the lesson.

So after studying Kid Rock, we learn our lessons of the greatest songs by Kid Rock. Although Devil Without A Cause sold more and broke Kid Rock into the mainstream, this is the one to have. It’s a very good listen indeed. Kid Rock afterwards went gradually more and more country in his music and began ranting on about supporting Donald Trump. This album, on the other hand, is far more important than that. It’s a great listen.

8/10

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV (1971)

Led Zeppelin really shines on this recording. Prior to this recording, Led Zeppelin had given us the Led Zeppelin I, II and III albums with each one being a step ahead of it in a logical progression. This is their best effort ever and sounds so awesome, even nearly 50 years later. The artwork and Zoso symbols have their own mystical meaning behind them as well. In short, it’s just brilliant.

We begin with Black Dog, which is a layered and interesting piece. “Hey-hey mama, gonna make you move, gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove!” sings Robert Plant. It’s a cool song with distorted guitar riffs and sexual wordplay. Just awesome.

The next song Rock And Roll is a straight ahead rock and roll piece that has stop/start motions and a 50s piano to boot. By this time, we sense that something very special musically is here, and this album is just a super listen.

The Battle Of Evermore follows with Mandolin (a Chinese instrument) by guitarist Jimmy Page and Sandy Denny doing backing vocals. It tells a tale directly inspired by The Lord Of The Rings book series. It may sound weird written here, but it is actually not a weird listen. It’s a beautiful and soulful piece.

Stairway To Heaven is quite possibly the most overrated rock song in history and has often been abused in its popularity. Still, there is no denying that this song is great. It starts off with fingerpicked acoustic guitar, before having various layers and elements segue into it, and finishes with a soul touching guitar solo and Robert Plant’s lone voice ending. It’s such a wonderful song to fit into the album. Led Zeppelin fans love this one. Interestingly enough, many people namely Christians think if you play this song backward, it has satanic quotes on it, though that’s not the purpose of the song whatsoever.

We go back to The Lord Of The Rings (again) with Misty Mountain Hop. It’s a keyboard driven song that sounds quite relaxing indeed. It’s a slightly weaker track but it’s still essential listening on the album. Sounds majestic.

We have the pounding Four Sticks next. It’s a good one, with Robert Plant singing some eastern music influenced harmonies. It’s brilliant, in many respects, of course.

Going To California is a delightful semi-country ballad. It’s so simple and beautiful that fans of Led Zeppelin III will love this one. But as the harmonies at the end of the song tell you, it’s much better a recording than many of the pieces on that particular album. Inspired and great listening.

When The Levee Breaks was originally recorded by another blues artist way back in the 1920s, so this is a cover. However, it is mind-blowingly awesome and sounds really trippy. It takes you into another world of music and is super special. It ends the album well.

This album not only defined the hard rock of the time, it deeply transcended it. It was such a special album in terms of overall quality that it has featured in many history books as one of the greatest albums of all time. It’s definitely in the top ten of the listings for the greatest albums ever. If you like hard rock with great performances and attitude, start here. You won’t be disappointed.

9/10