For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (also known as F.U.C.K.) is the ninth studio album by Van Halen (and the third with Sammy Hagar as vocalist), released June 17th, 1991. This album was their third in a row to reach #1 on the U.S. charts, which is where it stayed for three weeks. It has gone on to sell 3.9 million copies in the U.S. It was certified gold and platinum on 08/22/91, double platinum on 11/08/91, and triple platinum on 08/17/94.
Van Halen started work on the album in March 1990 and finished in April 1991 (just two months before its release). The album itself was marketed as the “return” to Van Halen’s hard rock roots, with more songs being guitar driven than previous albums 1984, 5150, and OU812. It was produced by Andy Johns, Ted Templeman and Van Halen.
Though Eddie Van Halen’s inventive guitar work is what established the band’s reputation, his playing is much more in context with the songs during the band’s Sammy Hagar days. The solos still leap from the speakers, but much of the rhythm work is shuttled to the middle of the mix, where it blends with the band’s excellent rhythm section. “Poundcake” is an arena-ready hard rocker, while “Judgement Day” swings like only these Pasadena boys can. “Right Now” is an instant classic that proves the band’s arrangement skills have matured and evolved in complexity. “316” is a sweet, understated instrumental. “Top of the World” recalls the band’s vintage pop power. The chorus and background vocals of “The Dream Is Over” is just amazing.
This album came after a year-long break for the band. Eddie claims that he barely picked up the guitar in that time. When the band decided to start the new album, they decided to first pick a producer. They knew of Andy Johns from his work with Led Zeppelin, and he came to work so quickly that the band was taken by surprise and had nothing written for the album.
The band eventually wrote enough songs to make this a double album, which is why they brought in producer Ted Templeman. He convinced the band to finish enough songs for one album and release it.
At one point the band wanted to try recording at a different studio, but Ted talked them into staying at 5150.
The album was done one song at a time in that each song was completed before moving on to the next.
Originally, “Fuck” was suggested as the title by Sammy, much to Alex’s dismay. Boxer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini informed Sammy that the word was actually an acronym for “for unlawful carnal knowledge,” which the band then chose as the album’s title. However, most fans usually refer to the album simply as “Fuck,” for short.
The first pressing of the CD had gold or white lettering on the outer cover and a chalkboard full of phone numbers pictured within the liner notes. One of the numbers on the chalkboard received so many calls that new pressings of the CD had to be made excluding the chalkboard. The newer pressing featured white lettering on the outer cover. The same changes had to be made for the cassette version of the album, which originally had silver lettering.
The album won the Best Rock Album award at the Billboard Music Awards on 12/17/91 from Memphis, TN, and Best Hard Rock Performance with Vocal at the 1992 Grammy Awards.
Their massive 1991-1992 tour promoting the album was unofficially named “F.U.C.K. ‘n’ Live.”