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Van Halen’s fourth album, ‘Fair Warning,’ was released 40 years ago today

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Rhino/Warner Records

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the release of Van Halen‘s fourth studio album, Fair Warning.

Released in the U.S. on April 29, 1981, The nine-track collection found the band’s music taking a heavier and lyrically darker turn after the fun of Van Halen’s first three albums. Fair Warning became the group’s highest-charting album at the time, peaking at #5 on the Billboard 200. While it included no Billboard Hot 100 hits, the album featured four tunes that made it into the top-40 of the publication’s Mainstream Rock chart — “Unchained,” “So This Is Love?,” “Mean Streets” and “Push Comes to Shove.”

“Unchained” has gone on to become a staple on classic rock radio. The song features a brief cameo by producer Ted Templeman, who is heard saying to frontman David Lee Roth “Come on, Dave, give me a break,” after Roth chatters away in a spoken-word interlude in the middle of the track.

The album also featured Van Halen’s first use of synthesizers, which were employed by Eddie Van Halen on the final two tracks — “Sunday Afternoon in the Park” and “One Foot Out the Door.”

Fair Warning has sold over two million copies in the U.S. to date, making it the least successful album recorded by Van Halen’s original Roth-fronted lineup.

Here’s the full Fair Warning track list:

“Mean Street”
“‘Dirty Movies'”
“Sinner’s Swing!”
“Hear About It Later”
“Unchained”
“Push Comes to Shove”
“So This Is Love?”
“Sunday Afternoon in the Park”
“One Foot Out the Door”

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