Thursday, 28 April 2011

CD Review: Fair Warning, by Van Halen (1981)

If ever an album needed a to come with a fair warning, Fair Warning is it. It's the fourth studio album in a three year span, and Van Halen's creativity crashes against a solid wall of fatigue and crumples into a sad bundle of nondescript sounds.

Despite the introduction of the synthesizer, the sense of fun is lost, the bouncy melodies are replaced by trudging and tired compositions, the catchy tunes have disappeared, Roth's vocals sound forced, and the overall sense is of a band throwing together a record - any record - from inferior material. Clocking in at just over 30 minutes, including two tracks that don't even make it to the two minute mark, Fair Warning is lightweight and transparent.

Two tracks are worth mentioning. Opener Mean Street is the only song that deserves a spot on any of the earlier Van Halen albums. Edgy, dark and crunchy, Mean Street is the farthest Van Halen have strayed from their fun-loving  core, and demonstrates plenty of potential that remains solidly unfulfilled on the rest of the album.

So This Is Love? is the catchiest tune on the CD, a fairly inoffensive effort that, at this stage, the band could have written in a matter of minutes. On the first three albums So This Is Love? would have been almost filler-grade, but on Fair Warning it just about shines.

The rest of the album comes and goes with barely a ripple, songs looking for a purpose and finding none, from a band going through the recoding motions and finding no spark.


David Lee Roth - Vocals
Edward Van Halen - Guitar
Michael Anthony - Bass
Alex Van Halen - Drums

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Mean Street - 9
2. "Dirty Movies" - 7
3. Sinner's Swing! - 7
4. Hear About It Later - 7
5. Unchained - 7
6. Push Comes To Shove - 6
7. So This Is Love? - 8
8. Sunday Afternoon In The Park - 7
9. One Foot Out The Door - 6

Average: 7.11

Produced by Ted Templeman.
Engineered by Donn Landee.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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