Van Halen - For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge

Van Halen – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge


Van Halen’s ninth album This album was billed as a return to a harder and more guitar-driven sound. It went triple platinum, believe it or not.

Written by: Jeffrey343

ARTIST: Van Halen
ALBUM: For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
LABEL: Warner Bros
SERIAL: 9 26594-2
YEAR: 1991
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List

LINEUP: Sammy Hagar – lead vocals * Eddie Van Halen – guitar * Mike Anthony – bass * Alex Van Halen – drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Poundcake * 02 Judgement Day * 03 Spanked * 04 Runaround * 05 Pleasure Dome * 06 In N Out * 07 Man On A Mission * 08 The Dream Is Over * 09 Right Now * 10 316 * 11 Top Of The World



Van Halen exited the 80’s as one of the alpha dogs of the hard rock scene. They had enjoyed a very lengthy career since their 1978 debut, with each new album eagerly anticipated by their fans. Eight multi-platinum albums were definitely a sign of their success, as they had remained relevant longer than most acts who had started the same time or later than they had.

Not that they had avoided controversy, as they had endured one of the most well-known personnel changes in the history of Rock. The changeover from David Lee Roth to Sammy Hagar had not hurt them commercially. The first two albums with Hagar were major successes.

Even with the musical landscape changing to a harder and more raunchy and sleazy sound in the rock world and with rock in general becoming less of a factor in the pop world, Van Halen were still a band that was expected to deliver in both of those areas. But even they had to put a little more effort into gaining attention, and the title (and acronym) for album number nine was definitely meant to invoke a sense of shock.

The Songs

Each of the first two albums with Hagar (‘5150’ and ‘OU812’) featured Eddie Van Halen’s synthesizers prominently on songs that were destined to be released as singles. Not so much on this album, as keyboards are not a prominent part of any but one song. This album was billed as a return to a harder and more guitar-driven sound.

The leadoff song, ‘Poundcake’, definitely lives up to that promise. It was the lead single, and it reached the top of the U.S. rock charts. However, it did not chart on the U.S. pop charts, as rock acts were having a harder time on more pop-oriented radio. It’s one of my favourite songs of the Hagar era.

‘Judgment Day’ is another harder and more straightforward song. ‘Spanked’ is sort of a bizarre tune, about those 1-800 sex lines that were popular in the days before you could find anything and everything on the world wide web. Musically a good song in spite of the odd lyrics.

‘Runaround’ was the second single. It also made it to the top of the rock charts, proving that VH could still be a force in a third decade. ‘Pleasure Dome’ clocks in at almost seven minutes. It is another song that is a bit ‘out there’ in terms of subject matter, but it is a pretty cool song to my ears. One of the more different tunes they’ve recorded.

‘In ‘N’ Out’ again rocks hard. Not about sex, not about the California burger chain, but rather about how you’re always owing something to someone. ‘Man On A Mission’ is pretty decent, although the lyrics are a bit more juvenile than you’d expect. ‘The Dream Is Over’ is one of the better tracks on here, and it made it to number seven on the rock charts.

‘Right Now’ is the only song to feature Eddie playing keyboards, and he is playing a fairly simple piano rather than an all-out synth attack. This was another big hit from the album, making it to number two on the rock charts and getting some airplay on the pop charts too.

The video was the MTV video of the year in 1992. And if anyone remembers Crystal Pepsi, this song was used in a commercial for it that premiered during the Super Bowl in 1993. (Guess the song didn’t inspire enough people to buy the drink..)

‘316’ is a brief instrumental named after Eddie’s son Wolfgang’s March 16 birthday. The album ends with ‘Top Of The World’, the most successful song from the album. It was the third single, the third number one on the rock charts, and even cracked the top 30 on the pop charts.

In Summary

The album went triple platinum, proving that Van Halen could still deliver the goods. Even with grunge starting its assault on the rock world shortly after this release, this album was still a huge success. It did not spawn any hits that have the staying power of their earlier hits, as I don’t hear these songs on classic rock radio as much as the hits from the first two Hagar albums or the Roth albums.

I personally have a preference for the Hagar era, and I find the first three albums all quite good (never did get into ‘Balance’ that much). This might be my favourite of those three, as it is consistent in its approach. The one chance they take with ‘Pleasure Dome’ happens to be one that worked for me.



Van Halen - "Poundcake" Music Video HD (1991)

Right Now
Van Halen-Right now

Entire Album (Select Tracks)
Playlist: For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
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