39 Years Ago Today, Van Halen Gave Us “Fair Warning”
Back on April 29, 1981, Van Halen released their fourth, and what many fans consider to be their best album, Fair Warning. The march of time has certainly been kind to it as opposed to when it was originally released. Critics were generally not favorable in their reviews, and it remains the slowest-selling album of the David Lee Roth era. Many fans didn't know what to make of it at the time, including myself. Fair Warning definitely had a slow-burn effect on me and even nowadays whenever I give it a spin, I find something new to discover.
The front-cover artwork, taken from a painting called "The Maze" by artist William Kurelek depicting the traumas and struggles he experienced during his youth, certainly matches much of the music within. Dark...mysterious...brooding...dangerous....HEAVY.
This music was a whole lot different than the party-time, wild and crazy, summertime-fun music that was featured on their first three albums. The songs on Fair Warning were, on the whole, nastier, harder, heavier...basically, more intense. Definitely no Top 40 hits to be found here. However, for those patient few , repeated listens paid off in major rewards. Some great songs to be found here include, "Mean Street", "Hear About It Later", "Push Comes To Shove', the down-right MEAN sounding instrumental "Sunday Afternoon in the Park", and probably the most familiar song from the album, "Unchained".
If the "good-time fun in the sun" summertime vibe is what you're looking for, "So This Is Love" fits the bill quite nicely:
Happy Anniversary, VH! Thanks for 39 years of revisiting a great, often overlooked, hard-rock classic.