Fair Warning (1981)


1. Mean Streets
2. Dirty Movies
3. Sinners Swing!
4. Hear it About it Later
5. Unchained
6. Push Comes To Shove
7. So This is Love?
8. Sunday Afternoon in the Park
9. One Foot Out the Door





 

Back in the early 1980's, during the hey-day of arena rock, Van Halen was the band that you simply had to catch live when they toured your city. Of course, if you missed them, it wasn't any big deal because they would be back the next year, so you could shell out your $8.50 or whatever and still enjoy arguably the best show that rock and roll could offer. Ah, those were the days! The point here is that, with a band like Van Halen, people really didn't seem to care whether or not the latest record was any good. A new album meant a new tour - and that's really what it was all about.

So when their fourth album came out, in only four years, no one really seemed to pay that much attention. That would have been a shame had this album been a classic of the Van Halen variety, but sadly, this wasn't the case here. For whatever reason, the guys try to sound much more serious this time around, and as time would unpleasantly remind us sporadically during their career, this band simply wasn't meant to ever be a serious band.

The aura of the record is immediately recognized as being different on the opening track Mean Streets. Yes, it's definitely still the David Lee Roth era Van Halen, filled with the same trademarks throughout, but the music just sounds more dark, more lean and....well....more serious. So much so that when they continue with songs with titles such as Dirty Movies and Sinners Swing, there sadly isn't much difference. Yes, the titles sound 'fun', and it really does sound like Diamond Dave is trying to revive a party, but the overall atmosphere of the record just doesn't sound like the rest of the guys, or maybe it was just Eddie, wanted to go on a ride this time around.

There are those who say this one of their best albums. I guess everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I simply never really got it. By the time I'm about halfway through the record listening to a song like Push Comes To Shove, I'm already asleep. Something that should never happen whilst listening to a Van Halen album. I guess overall they 'succeed' at what their trying to do here, it just seems too uncharacteristic of these guys for me to really enjoy anything here. It's weird that the last two songs on the record are each less than two minutes a piece - and one, the odd Sunday Afternoon in the Park is nothing more that eerie synthesizers dredging up images of God only knows what. Let's just say the title doesn't match the mood. Then again, that was the whole point.

Well, at least their concerts kicked some major ass. And that was all anyone cared about anyways.

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