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!
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
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