Written By Braddon S. Williams

Van Halen: Fair Warning

Aside from their debut, my favorite Van Halen album is Fair Warning (1981).

My reasoning for this decision is simple, because it is the Van Halen release where Eddie Van Halen took the time to really showcase his playing with multiple guitar parts and overdubs, and it is the darkest Van Halen album in tone and content.

Van Halen were always a party band, but Fair Warning showed what they were capable of when they got serious, and it opened a door into a nastier side of their group persona.

Some of my all time favorite VH songs reside on Fair Warning; So This Is Love?, Unchained, Mean Streets, Hear About It Later, Sinner’s Swing, and Push Comes To Shove.

Get it, crank it, learn it, love it…Fair Warning Rules!

https://youtu.be/m4akn6e59TQ

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

I was 16 years old when Van Halen changed the world of guitar players worldwide. The year was 1978 and I vividly recall the first time I heard their debut album. I had gone to the local record store and purchased the newest Rainbow record and decided to pick up the VH debut because I liked the album cover. Something about that striped guitar just called out to me. When I got home I was told to listen on headphones due to my mother having company. I put on side one, cranked it up and as the first song (Runnin’ With The Devil) played, I began to nearly hyperventilate with excitement. Nothing could have prepared me for what came next. Eruption literally changed my life…Eddie Van Halen’s guitar solo showcase was 1:43 seconds of molten lava, jaw-dropping, face-melting insanity. It was a game changer, and I can only imagine the priceless look on my face as the revolution took place between my ears! Track by track, the album just reinvented rock guitar, not to mention just the sonic perfection of the mix, the rich bottom end and cavernous drum sound, all topped with David Lee Roth’s banshee wails and cocky swagger. Van Halen had party anthems to spare, and it was a glorious time to be 16 years old. Several generations have claimed to be part of the golden age of rock ‘n’ roll, and I’m pretty sure us kids of the ’70’s have a legitimate argument to plead our case. Van Halen rules!

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

On this date in history, 7/31/1982, I traveled to Fort Wayne, IN, to see Van Halen at the Colliseum. This venue struck me as a smaller version of Market Square Arena in Indy. What was funny was that Van Halen apparently brought the same amount of equipment and this show was LOUD! Once again, they remained true to form and had a terrible opening act…After The Fire. I don't have the interest or the time to describe how boring and incompatible with Van Halen they actually were, so please just take my word for it. Van Halen had released the Diver Down album a few months prior to this show, and their cover of "Pretty Woman" was riding high on the charts. VH now had 5 albums of material to choose from and their set was full of stellar songs, solos, death defying Roth screams, and soaring Michael Anthony harmonies. On the night of this show, apparently David Lee Roth took it upon himself to do a little pre-show drinking. Either that, or he just developed some extreme song lyric amnesia. Whatever the case, the lyrics were forgotten during many songs, but whenever it happened, Dave just let out a monstrous scream and grinned that trademark grin of his, and everything was alright. Even on a night where mistakes were made, the charisma and talent in this band were completely unstoppable.

Written By Braddon S Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

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On this date in history, 4/29/1979, my mind was literally blown out of my skull as I witnessed the mighty Van Halen for the first time! This show took place in my so called “home away from home”, the fabled Market Square Arena, in downtown Indianapolis.
6a00d8341c694153ef00e54f3f004b8834-800wiI was 17 years old at the time of this sensational show, and the impact it had on me was colossal. I had just discovered the band the previous year, along with literally every other guitar player on the planet.
Eddie Van Halen’s playing style was seismic…like an earthquake powerful enough to separate the state of California from the rest of the states. To my delight, he was even better live, careening around the stage with this big, goofy look of pure joy on his face throughout the entire show.
His brother Alex brought the thunder with his massive drum kit, Michael Anthony kept the bass lines simple, but solid as granite. He also provided those sky high, crystal clear harmony vocals on all those infectious choruses.
van-halen-78-039aDavid Lee Roth was the quintessential lead singer sex symbol…strutting and striking all the right poses, telling stories and cracking jokes between songs, leaping off the drum riser in martial arts fearlessness; all while screaming like a banshee and singing those clever lyrics that his replacement, Sammy Hagar, could never match in a million years.
Van Halen II was their current album, and it provided some new classics for their arsenal. The song “Light Up The Sky” was a particular crowd favorite, as the whole band participated in a group drum solo near the song’s conclusion.
Eddie’s long solo spot in the show had everyone’s jaws dropping and eyes bulging as 1vh2we tried to take in all the incredible playing and seemingly endless supply of cool tricks the man was capable of conjuring from his trademark striped Kramer guitars. Oh yes, there was a forgettable opening act, one Robert Fleischman.
Little did I know  at the time  I would see VH 4 more times in the next few years and 2 things remained consistent…Van Halen’s badassery and their opening band’s lameness.
b20705070271556ace5034d1bc94d88cApparently, Van Halen was not concerned with being challenged. That is a minor complaint, because I always got my money’s worth at a Van Halen show. If you never saw them, I truly feel sorry for you!
Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

Van Halen – Dance The Night Away (live 1979)

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On This Date in History