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Fair Warning

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(142 Reviews)

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  • Van Halen’s party-hardy with her [...] around her ankles theme took a sharp turn toward the dark side with the release of Fair Warning in ‘81. Partly because the band was beginning to age a bit, but mostly due to the fact that David Lee Roth’s lyrics were being shaped by recent holiday trips to Haiti (of all Places). The realization came to Roth after finnally seeing that Haiti was not really a place of merriment for rich rock stars looking to party all over the world. Thus we see the change to darker, more frank lyrics (Mean Streets, Unchained). There is a bit of the ol’ Diamond Dave represented here (Sinner’s Swing, One foot out the Door) but the dark edges never quiet leave the entire collections of tunes. Ed Van Halen’s then latest collection of authentic riffs give the album the toughness needed for the darker side, his sense of humor in his style being put aside for a more gritty, and dense playing. Fair Warning should have been a cross-roads for the band to progress into a more mature adult-oriented rock and roll band, but time shows it as the beginning of the end of the “Classic” Van Halen lineup, which preceeded the melancholy Sammy Hagar era. Fair Warning stands on its own merits as a classic Van Halen offering, it stands toe to toe with any other effort from the band. It seems that the direction the band took for Fair Warning could have moved them into the direction of such “serious” bands such as The Who or Led Zeppelin as their careers progressed, and would have allowed them to leave the “party band” image that Ed Van Halen is so intent of shedding nowadays. But it’s all ancient history today.

    Posted on November 23, 2009