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Fair Warning

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  • Legend has it that during the recording of “Fair Warning”, Edward Van Halen would sneak into the studio with Donn Landee during the night to lay down his guitar tracks. He was apparantly quite hacked off with his bandmates telling him what to play. The result is the absolute pinnacle of modern rock guitar.”Mean Street” opens “Fair Warning” with Eddie doing one of his tapped harmonic runs with a funk slant before merging with brother Alex and Michael Anthony on the main riff. His guitar solo burns with a white hot intensity combining feel and fury. On “Dirty Movies”, Ed plays slide guitar and conjures up another sleazy, down and dirty riff. “Sinner Swing!” finds David Lee Roth leading the band through another hyperactive boogie before giving way to an outrageous guitar solo. “Hear About It Later” shows that Roth could actually sing when so inclined. The melody in the sections before and after the guitar solo is quite strong.”Unchained”, with its headbanging, drop-D riff, is perhaps the most famous song off this album, but it can’t compare to “Push Comes To Shove”, which in my opinion contains Edward Van Halen’s greatest guitar solo (yes, better than “Eruption”). Everything about this song is perfection, from Roth’s hurt mutterings about the one that got away, to Anthony’s credible funk bass playing and Alex Van Halen’s surprisingly subdued drums, playing with a spartan discipline which perfectly compliments the track. “So This Is Love?” is another up-tempo boogie romp, but Edward opens his lead with some mellow blues runs and proceeds through a relaxed solo. If there any weaknesses on this record, they are “Sunday Afternoon In The Park” and “One Foot Out The Door”, which eat up just enough time to finish the album. The latter does contain some great playing from Ed, but doesn’t truly gel. “Sunday Afternoon” is a lumbering instrumental snoozer that loses its novelity after 2 listenings.Other than these last two pieces, this may be the Van Halen album where Edward finds the balance between guitar acrobatics and strong songwriting/arranging. He seems quite comfortable in the studio by this point, using overdubbs effectively without going overboard. This is essential Van Halen.

    Posted on November 24, 2009