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Articles Home » 1981 Articles » Fair Warning (USA) - 1981 Fair Warning
Fair Warning (USA) - 1981 Fair Warning

ARTIST: Fair Warning (USA)
ALBUM: Fair Warning
YEAR: 1981


LINEUP: Steve Nervo - lead and background vocals, drums, percussion * Rick Dotin - lead and background vocals, keyboards * Craig DeBock - lead and background vocals, percussion, saxophones * Rusty Bretz - electric and acoustic guitars * Gino Milchak - bass, background vocals * Pete Nervo - percussion, guitar, background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 She Don't Know Me * 02 I Wanna Be Your Lover * 03 Night And Day * 04 South Of The Border * 05 He's So Bad * 06 The Shadows Of Your Mind * 07 Just Send An SOS * 08 Watchin' Katie Dance * 09 Goodnight My Dear

There is a running joke that this Cleveland based outfit were named after the Van Halen song and album of the same name, coincidentally released in 1981. I'm pretty sure they weren't, but name association is a funny thing in the music industry isn't it? You can actually blame MCA Records for the naming cock-up. Why they couldn't just leave the outfit as their original name LaFlavour is anybodys guess. Anyhow, this version of Fair Warning were ably led by local musicians and twin brothers Peter and Steve Nervo, whose history goes way back into the 1960's, along with old school friends Craig DeBock and Gino Milchak. Over the years, variations in style would eventually culminate in an attack on the disco scene during the late 70's, which resulted in their 1980 'Mandolay' album. Though released at the tail end of the disco movement and a minor regional success, MCA thought it wise to kill off LaFlavour with a visual re-imaging and revamped sound when they picked up the band for their roster - believing that disco was on the slippery slope to oblivion. That much may have been true but MCA dropped the ball thereafter. You can guess for the era that we're dealing with, LaFlavour/Fair Warning would be switching from disco to a quirky set of pop/rock and radio rock styles which was the prevailing sound for the mid-west during the early 80's. In fact, I'd go so far and compare it to fellow MCA luminary Donnie Iris. The Marc Avsec connection an obvious one, as he had some disco crossover success with locals Wild Cherry, plus he had written material with Pete Nervo. Gone were the glitzy vests and blazers suitable for the ballroom, to more typical AOR/pop rock fare of blues jeans, wide belts and open neck shirts.

The Songs
The lead off track 'She Don't Know Me' will be familiar to Bon Jovi followers, as it appeared on their classic l984 debut, but also on fellow MCA signings The Grassroots, courtesy of their 1982 set 'Power Of The Night'. Fair Warning's version has none of the energy or the excitement of Jovi, and is quite mild by comparison. There are some comments on the LaFlavour website which suggests that Fair Warning's success was hindered by moves to provide this song to Bon Jovi. I don't think that's quite right, as the song itself was written by Avsec and Carl Maduri (and they could have shopped it out to any interested parties), and Jovi didn't release it until 1984. Also, Jon Bon Jovi didn't put the origins of his band together until 1983 and into 1984. Moving on.. 'I Wanna Be Your Lover' has a repeating theme and hook which doesn't stray too far off the beaten track. 'Night And Day' on the other hand is a pleasant sounding 7O's British styled pop ditty. Unlike the totally trippy and quirky 'South of The Border' which (excuse the pun) borders on cringeworthy. 'He's So Bad' and 'Watchin Katie Dance' has a lot in common with the aforementioned Donnie Iris, what with the cheesy synths, incessant handclaps and intrusive sax parts. 'The Shadows Of Your Mind' strays into Al Stewart territory complete with acoustic elements and flamenco flurries. 'Just Send An S.O.S' has some nice fusiony parts reminiscent of the great Steely Dan, whilst retaining their quirky edge. Despite the tepid songtitle, 'Goodnight My Dear' is an engaging ballad with a lovely vocal delivery coming with pre-requisite orchestration.

In Summary
In fact, the vocal parts (in particular the vocal harmonies) are spot on mostly, no doubt due to the LaFlavour showband influence and style, a la barbershop quartet. As an album, I will admit that by todays standards, 'Fair Warning' sounds incredibly dated. The electronic percussion going some way to formulating that opinion. Not that it mattered at the time, because MCA did an incredibly bad job of promoting the band, the LP itself was not formally released outside of the initial promo copies that were provided to radio stations at the time. Undeterred, the Nervo's returned Fair Warning to LaFlavour once again after their brief MCA sojourn, the showband picking up from 1980's 'Mandolay' success as if 1981 never really happened. LaFlavour carried on for many years, touring around the mid-west and eastern seaboard as the traditional showband they once were.

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#1 | gdazegod on July 12 2012 14:27:28
A couple of other Cleveland albums in the pipeline. Jonah Koslen and Heroes - Aces, plus the second Breathless album. Michael Stanley is in there too..
#2 | gdazegod on July 12 2012 14:41:59
YouTube Video:
#3 | Eric on July 13 2012 00:47:33
I really like this album. Originally bought it as a drill hole cassette and played it 'till it unraveled. Nice one and far better than the hammering Classic Rock-AOR gave it...
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