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132 of 146 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Van Halen's masterpiece
In 1981 all was not well in the world of the mighty VH. Tensions between guitarist Eddie Van Halen and singer David Lee Roth had been mounting, and it got to the point where Eddie had wanted to quit the group. He recorded music, possibly for a solo album, Roth heard it, and promptly wrote some lyrics--the result...FAIR WARNING. A rather, dark, cynical album, and one of...
Published on May 13, 2005 by Daniel Ferguson-Maltzman

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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Prime of Roth-Fronted Van Halen!
I'm assuming as it's not stated by Amazon anywhere on this page to date that this is the Japanese mlps version and if so, this review refers to that version.

This album is the fourth by this seminal rock band and shows a band maturing when compared with their first three albums as the topic and subject matter of their songs become more mature, complex and even...
Published on June 11, 2008 by Frederick Baptist


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132 of 146 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Van Halen's masterpiece, May 13, 2005
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This review is from: Fair Warning (Audio CD)
In 1981 all was not well in the world of the mighty VH. Tensions between guitarist Eddie Van Halen and singer David Lee Roth had been mounting, and it got to the point where Eddie had wanted to quit the group. He recorded music, possibly for a solo album, Roth heard it, and promptly wrote some lyrics--the result...FAIR WARNING. A rather, dark, cynical album, and one of the finest, if not finest, recording Van Halen ever made. The tensions within the band helped to fuel the fire, the intensity, and the passion of the recording process.

With the exception of Van Halen 3, (with vocalist Gary Cherone) "Fair Warning" was the least commercially successful Van Halen album. Although it is generally regarded among fans (especially VH purists) to be one of the bands' best albums.

Although still a "party" album, complete with sing-along choruses, "Fair Warning" is by far the band's darkest album. The overall vibe of the album, as well as Eddie Van Halen's riffs and solos, while undeniably catchy with great hooks, also have a cloudy somberness to them. David Lee Roth's lyrics, for the most part, are also somewhat more cynical than most of his work, before or since.

"Fair Warning" shows Van Halen at their zenith. Truth be told--the first six Van Halen albums are all masterpieces and essential to any great rock collection, but "Fair Warning" is the crown jewel of VH's output. Even more so than the classic debut album. "Fair Warning" simply shows each member of the band, and the band overall as a unit, at their finest. "Fair Warning" demonstrates Eddie Van Halen's best riffs, solos, and overall playing. It's flashy, yet not self-indulgent, intense, yet also has a lot of soul, something that a lot of technical wizards lack. It was on "Fair Warning" that Eddie found the "brown sound."

"Fair Warning" is also singer David Lee Roth's finest hour. His lyrics and delivery are at their most witty, ironic and colorful height--like in the classic "one break, commmming uppp!"--from "Unchained" (which was on the spur-of-the-moment, and not pre-planned). On "Fair Warning," David Lee Roth is immortalized as the world's coolest frontman, ever.

"Fair Warning" also shows Van Halen's rhythm section at their best. Bassist Michael Anthony has never been hailed as the world's greatest living bassist. He is primly there to serve, along with drummer Alex Van Halen as the musical backbone of the band, to let Eddie do his thing. On "Fair Warning," although his lines are pretty straightforward, they are also right upfront. You can hear the bass throughout the entire disc, it really stands out and enhances the sound and vibe of the album overall. On songs like "Push Comes to Shove" and "So This is Love," you can get into the bass as much as any other aspect of the sound.

"Mean Street" opens with the sound of a guitar--quite at first, and then getting louder and louder--of Eddie noodling on the fretboard. And then the main riff kicks in, a mean, killer riff, one of 80s rocks' finest. At this point you are thrust into the all-consuming greatness that is classic Van Halen. This mid-tempo rocker simply shows classic Van Halen at their best--young, invigorated, ready to kill. "Fair Warning" then moves into the dark, highly underrated "Dirty Movies." This song starts out melodic, yet somewhat morose and creepy. The underwhellming drums at the beginning add the perfect effect. After a few seconds the main riff kicks in, and this loud and heavy, yet midtempo, melodic rocker begins. This ode to the porn industry shows the band at it's most cynical--from the perspective of its rowdy audience. The radio staple "Sinners Swing" is a bit more upbeat, but only slightly so. The midtempo "Hear About it Later," a song about unfaithfulness, is bitter, yet confident. The rhythm section towards the end of the song--with Michael Anthony's pounding bass over Alex Van Halen's light percussion is magnificently stunning. "Unchained" is undeniably the albums' highlight and one of Van Halen's, and rocks' greatest songs. From the classic opening chords, the fast paced riff, to it's conclusion, this song is a masterpiece, and simply shows VH at their peak. The album comes back to earth with the funky, disco-like "Push Comes to Shove." "So This is Love?" is one of Van Halen's best songs. It's incredibly catchy, with a great bass intro, and great riff and hook. If you listen to "So this is Love," it is guaranteed to put a smile on your face, that's how magical it is. "Sunday Afternoon in the Park" is a foggy, somewhat offbeat instrumental. It adds a nice touch to the album overall. This instrumental leads into the short-but-sweet closing "One Foot Out the Door" which shows Diamond Dave at his meanest, with lyrics like "Now I'm gonna lose it 'cause that son-of-a-bitch"...A perfect conclusion to the perfect record.

Before Van Halen wrote songs like "Why Can't this be Love," before the lead-singer soap opera, there was a time when Van Halen was rightfully called the Mighty Van Halen, and "Fair Warning" proves it. The best word to describe Van Halen at this stage in their career is, quite simply, cool. "Fair Warning" is simply one of the best, coolest rock albums you will ever hear in your life.

The 2000 remaster sounds especially clear and sharp. You can make out subtle things that were easy to miss on the original CD pressing. Now "Fair Warning" can be enjoyed in all its greatness.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark, November 20, 2004
This review is from: Fair Warning (Audio CD)
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.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very heavy album, July 16, 2003
This review is from: Fair Warning (Audio CD)
In my opinion, FAIR WARNING was the heaviest album VAN HALEN had made up to that point. While the first albums have some killer songs with great melodies, on this album I think the band decided to throw all that to the wind and just get down and play some hard,heavy music. While other reviewers are right in stating that songs from this album are hardly played on classic rock stations, if you base you opinion on that fact, then you will be missing out on some great music. The album starts off with the heavy rocking MEAN STREET, which is a very good way to kick off any album. DIRTY MOVIES is next and it continues on the path that MEAN STREET started us on. SINNERS SWING while not as dark has a good guitar groove to it and some good rhythem to it. HEAR ABOUT IT LATER goes back to the heaviness of the first couple of songs and it just rocks you socks off. Of course the next song is the classic UNCHAINED, which is about the only song you will hear on rock radio these days. It starts off with a killer guitar intro along with a great drum backbeat throughout. I think on this song the band clicked on all cylinders. Hands down the definitive track off this album. I think you get the point by now, this album just rocks and for some unknown reason it gets overlooked. I highly recommend that you go out and get this album. You will not be disappointed.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing really does stay the same...a brilliant, dark masterpiece, June 28, 2007
This review is from: Fair Warning (Audio CD)
Van Halen is the type of band that can satisfy somebody with high expectations. The interesting thing about them is that while they certainly have a sound of their own, it seems like experimenting is a high priority for them. Between the hair-metal of "1984", the half-moody, half-good time "Van Halen 2" and the unstoppable monster of their debut album, "Van Halen", (all of which had their share of popular tunes), it's easy to see how something less commercial or experimental would tend to go unnoticed.
Unfortunately, that's the case with "Fair Warning". A brilliant album, yes, but the truth of thematter is that it wasn't remembered for high-on-the-chart singles such as "Jump" or "Panama". However, what it lacks for in commercial success it more than makes up for in clever songwriting and an overall dark tone. On a positive note, it's probably one of their overall greatest albums.
"Fair Warning" is the type of album where each song can flow pretty well into the following, even if the styles are a bit different. In addition, "Fair Warning" overall paints an easy-to-see picture. You can almost imagine a movie being made in the scenery that's painted by the rebelliousness of "Unchained" or the third-world neighborhood of "Mean Street". It's a land of murky tales and strange situations that's just so interesting and quite dark that you are brought in without hardly knowing. The imagery on the album covers, front and back, hint at what such a place might be like; twisted days where people go wild, uncertain events pop up out of nowhere, and all is portrayed by the soundtrack, a hard-rocking, moody masterpiece that is "Fair Warning".
All right, so more to the point, the music on this album is quite unique and interesting. Even in all the murky emotions, the sing-a-long choruses and anthemic displays of power show you that while this album may prove to be a change of pace, Van Halen is basically the same. Eddie Van Halen displays more exciting stunts on his guitar, while David Lee Roth erupts like a volcano with his comments and amusingly entertaining performances. Michael Anthony's basswork is quite present on this album, too, and Alex Van Halen's "what kind of drums is that man playing on?" drumming is top-notch, too. Overall, this album is yet another display of Van Halen's both incredible talent and catchy songwriting.

"Mean Street": The first, thirty seconds are Eddie Van Halen's progressive dual-handed tapping, a technique so unusual that when my guitar teacher showed me a long, long time ago, I was drawn in and bought this album. The main riff is so awesome it makes you wanna turn the power all the way up. The closing solo is very impressive as well, and basically, everybody is at the top of their game here. An instant classic.
" 'Dirty Movies' ": Wow, in just four minutes, Van Halen plays one of the most unpredictable songs I've ever heard, in a GOOD way. There are a lot of changes in this song, and random things occuring, such as David Lee Roth's spoken word, "Hey, you remember when that girl was prooom queen? Oh, wow.", and "Take it off! Take it all off!!!", and the cheering, this is a great song full of surprises.
"Sinner's Swing!": A fast-paced rocker that contains a very explicit lyric, especially for a VH song, but this is an awesome three-minute hard-rock blast.
"Hear About It Later": OK, a little time-travel here. Remember VH's debut? A song on there, "Feel Your Love Tonight"? I CANNOT TELL YOU how much this track sounds like a murky, love-gone-bad version of that song. Even so, it's still original with an anthemic sing-a-long chorus and some interesting, opening guitar work.
"Unchained": Alongside "Mean Street", this is probably my favorite song on the album. It opens with a huge, loud, crunchy guitar riff, the fast, fade-in drums, and DLR's, "ALL RIGHT!", shout. Great soloing and another funny DLR performance inside.("One break, commmming uppp!".)
"Push Comes To Shove": A very unusual VH song focused around a funky bassline and more basic drumwork. This song makes me thing about walking along the suburban streets of New York City, bundled up in the autumn, thinking about everything that's going on in your life. With such lyrics as, "Seems like forty days and forty nights since somebody's called me by my first name/ Including you", this is an introspective song that's an absolute delight, served up Van Halen style.
"So This Is Love?": The complete opposite of "Push Comes To Shove", this song has the swing and groove of an early Black Sabbath tune (one of Tony Iommi's guitar heroes was jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt). Along with an original VH sound and for some reason, a Red Hot Chili Peppers vibe, this is yet another great rocker.
"Sunday Afternoon In The Park": A slow, sludgy, two-minute instrumental with some of the wildest guitar playing I can recall hearing from Eddie. The riff starts and stops with some slow but cool drum fills of his brother Alex, and then, fading in is a hot, nasty guitar riff that leads into the closer...
"One Foot Out The Door": The killer riff continues here with Alex Van Halen's trademark, fade-in drumming, and DLR and Michael Anthony both kick in. The song and album close with yet another blazing guitar solo, and thus ends it all.

There you go, the dark, underrated masterpiece that is "Fair Warning". Although not the most commercially successful release, it's among Van Halen's very best. So if you want an album with massive talent but still packs the anthemic immortality that Van Halen displays so well, "Fair Warning" can almost undoubtedly get that taken care of. If you like this and want to explore more VH, I'd strongly recommend checking out, at least, "Van Halen (1)" and "1984", which both show these guys at the top of their game. Have a good time with this one, and until next time, peace!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So dark and [angry] it's awesome., January 21, 2005
By 
Froggman (New Jersey, U.S.A) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fair Warning (Audio CD)
When I began to listen to Van Halen, I was more into Sammy Hagar as a singer than David Lee Roth. But when I began to listen to more of the older albums such as Van Halen, 1984, and Fair Warning, that's when I began to really get into the Roth material. Especially from VH's darkest and somewhat weakest album stat-wise of the Roth era but in my mind its what Van Halen needed all along. Every track sounds so angry, heavy, awesome, and somewhat serious that it shows that Van Halen can break away from a party- harty attitude. In my opinion this album is great out of the Roth series. With David Lee Roth's vocals are great as usual, Michael Anthony's Bass parts really stand out and are great on every song, Alex Van Halen's drums are extremely catchy and fantastic like always, and Eddie Van Halen just keeps mowing down everything in his path with his guitar parts and solos like always and its absolutely terrific. Perfect album period.

1. Mean Streets- (10/10)

2. Dirty Movies- (10/10)

3. Sinner's Swing- (8/10)

4. Hear About it Later- (11/10)

5. Unchained- (11/10)

6. Push Comes to Shove- (8/10)

7. So this is Love- (10/10)

8. Sunday Afternoon in the Park- (9/10)

9. One Foot Out the Door- (9.5/10)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars VH,s art album, but also their best., February 11, 2000
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This review is from: Fair Warning (Audio CD)
This is angry artfunkmetalpunkboogie with chicken grease on the stage. Dave sounds like he wants to hit someone(probobly eddie),but that anger drives his improved lyricism, that goes beyond making his wild member ache. His voice is as soulfull as it ever got, and that is important in driving the insanity that is EVH,s guitar bombast. Eddie flys like an insane eagle, laying bombing runs on the competition, who said he was only a speed player at best. Eddies riffs are diamond solid, as are the backbeat, that is as funky as any rap beatbox. The band pins down fire and puts the elements under their command. The songs are wonderfull, some are rock classics(Meanstreets,Unchained,push comes to shove). This is a soul album for rivetheads. Underrated and undervalued. This album will be overlooked forever Im afraid, but thats allright, because the believers know the truth. Eddie might as well quit because he will never come close to this again. Van Halens Zoso. The bands zenith. Brown sound where have You goneeeeeeee? lol. Buy this album, or get laughed at by serious rock fiends..lol
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A hacked off Edward means a killer album, April 4, 2000
This review is from: Fair Warning (Audio CD)
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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the quintessential Van Halen CD, February 22, 2005
By 
PSM/Bokor (United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fair Warning (Audio CD)
In simple terms: this CD rocks like very few other CD's in its genre. There is a darkness and playfullness that intertwine seemlessly. Without question, this is the best Van Halen CD.

There is not one mediocre song. They flow beautifully together. The vocals and guitar work are masterfully done. A music collection would be lacking without the inclusion of "Fair Warning."

In so many ways, this CD fully demonstrates the essence of Rock 'n' Roll. Van Halen was once the master of this art.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visceral rock with unsurpassed musicianship, November 18, 1999
This review is from: Fair Warning (Audio CD)
My favorite VH album. 'Meantstreet' and 'Unchianed' are nothing short of incredible... demanding you to move to the music. It's nothing less than primal.
No one here mentions 'Hear About It Later'. This has got to be the most 'beautiful', hard-driving rocker I've ever heard.
Fantastic album... can't praise it enough.
Won't ever be another 'Fair Warning', you can bet on that.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The tension album, February 11, 2007
This review is from: Fair Warning (Audio CD)
The fights among the band are starting here and it shows, the music is very angry and Ed's playing is full of fire like the first album. Some of the best albums in history were made under tense conditions and this is one of those great albums that was worth the hell they went through to record it.
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Fair Warning
Fair Warning by Van Halen (Audio CD - 2000)
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