Day 5 of our “Fair Warning Week” celebrating the album’s 30th anniversary. We’re featuring a custom painted guitar with Fair Warning‘s album artwork and another review of the album.
Jeff Rich is an Atlanta-based commercial artist, guitar player and Van Halen fan. One day he decided to combine his three passions, and in doing so created this one of a kind tribute to Van Halen’s remarkable Fair Warning album. The Kramer guitar was meticulously hand painted, revealing an at times startling and unparalleled attention to detail. The artwork for both the album and the guitar was originally rendered by artist William Kurelek (1927-1977) in a disturbing portrait titled “The Maze”, a bleak depiction of his youth during the Great Depression.
Fair Warning review – 10 out of 10 Stars
by Mark Prindle
On this one, I proudly stand alone. Many a critic and fan have called this album a “misstep” or “goose egg” or “not a very good record,” but it is easily my favorite of this band’s many fine records. Every record they made with David Lee Roth should be considered a guitar rock classic, and I love them all, but I cannot deny that I find this underappreciated gem to be the tiniest bit more interesting than the others. And why? ‘CAUSE IT’S SO FRIGGIN’ DARK!!!!
Party hearty band? Why the hell would a party hearty band cover an album sleeve in grotesque drawings of child murders, street fights, and disturbing sculptures? Furthermore, why the corinthians would same such party hearty band envelop all of its formerly light-hearted sex and booze interests in song themes so ugly and distressing that the average listener can’t help but feel…well, bad about life when the album’s over! How adorable is it when mommy’s little girl winds up starring in “Dirty Movies”? How can we whistle and leer along with the fellas in the song when that darned Dave keeps shouting, “GO SEE BABY NOW!!!!!!” And why are all of our good-time vices now being referred to as the “Sinner’s Swing?” And what about all the angry fighting imagery of “Mean Street,” “Push Comes To Shove,” “Unchained,” and “One Foot Out The Door?” I mean, for the sake of criminy, the first spoken words on the album are “At night I walk these stinkin’ streets past the crazies on my block.” Yeesh! Fair Warning indeed!
But see, it’s not just the lyrics that are aggressive; the music paints a pretty darn dismal picture of the world, too. Aside from the questionable “Sinner’s Swing!” and the straightforward (and godlike) pop anthem “So This Is Love?,” not a one of these melodies is filled with glee. The opening guitar solo is an insanely speedy hammer-on that soon fades away into the funky Aerosmith-esque bitter pill to swallow that is “Mean Streets” and the mood don’t much pick up from there. “Hear About It Later” may give you goosebumps, but they’re gonna be melancholy goosebumps, not that sissy happy brand of goosebumps you’ve come to associate with Beatles VI. And “Push Comes To Shove” may be disco, but it’s about the least uplifting disco this side of paradise, F. What else? Oh! The classic “Unchained” has the toughest opening riff of probably any Halen tune of all, thanks to some stutter chops and a sick phaser pedal, and finally, the two teensy closing tracks, “Sunday Afternoon In The Park” and “One Foot Out The Door” represent Eddie’s growing fascination with keyboards, sure, but if you can find me an angrier pre-’82 keyboard song than these two fuzzy growlers, please inform me. I’d like to ask its hand in marriage.
Actually, now that I think about it, Throbbing Gristle might have had a couple of songs this disturbed – but probably none that kicked this much ass!!!! So go ahead, write off this album just like everybody else if you want to, but if you give it a chance, you might discover that it’s one of the most totally Fuqdup hard rock albums youse’r gonna hear, rear.