Hot off the Press

Fair Warning | Sundancer

by Mark Allen
– Senior Columnist —

Fair Warning SundancerFair Warning is one of the “big” names in the melodic hard rock world and as such, there is a tendency to excuse shortcomings for which other bands would be blasted. Well, if you’re inclined to indulge in that tendency, prepare to have lots of excuses handy while listening to this subpar offering from these long-running German rockers.

Listen to Fair Warning’s debut and then listen to Sundancer and you will realize how far the mighty have fallen. They used to serve us the melodic rock equivalent of prime rib; now they’re content to give us hot dogs. Sure, sometimes a hot dog is all you want, but nobody goes to a high class steakhouse and expects to get a frankfurter. Fair Warning are generally considered to be a high class band, so listeners have a right to expect something better than the melodic rock equivalent of a wiener.

Granted, Tommy Heart can still sing great and Engelke is no slouch on the guitar, but the songs are grossly burdened by predictability and banality. Feeling generous, you’ll call Sundancer simple; feeling truthful, you’ll call it boring. The songs just aren’t up to snuff, most of the tracks limper than a dead monkey’s tail. The whole album lacks inspiration, as if Fair Warning decided they needed to release a new album, haphazardly threw together some bargain-basement melodic rock songs, and called it good enough. Which it’s not.

There are a few glimmers of hope buried amidst the fourteen tracks, but they are just that – glimmers. Nary a single song on here really makes your cochlea tingle. The closest the band comes to a good tune is “Real Love,” which is (unfortunately) not a remake of the Slaughter hit, but a melancholy, mid-tempo melodic rock track with a brooding edge, delivered with emotional punch by Heart. Also worthy of a passing grade is “Living on the Street” thanks to a hard rocking edge, powerful vocals, big chorus, and extra dose of attitude. The rest of the album pretty much consists of banal filler. None of it will make you vomit in disgust, but that’s about the extent of the positivity. Hardly a ringing endorsement.

It’s hard to imagine anyone other than the most devout Fair Warning fans or neophyte melodic rock connoisseur deriving much pleasure from this release. If this is the best the band can drudge up nowadays, they should just hang up their hats instead of polluting their good name with this kind of drivel. The band sounds tired, their hearts not in the game, void of creative energy. They can do better, they should do better, and their fans deserve better.

Is Sundancer a career killer? No. But it is a low point from which the band must recover. Fair Warning have stumbled, fallen on the rocks, and bloodied their legacy. Now they need to pick themselves up, let their bruises fade, and come back reinvigorated. Ignoring this album is understandable … ignoring Fair Warning is not. Here’s hoping that they have their day in the sun yet again and that their next album makes melodic rock fans dance with joy instead of shrug with indifference.

Genre: Melodic Hard Rock

Tommy Heart (lead vocals)
C.C. Behrens (drums)
Ule W. Ritgen (bass)
Helge Engelke (lead guitar, keyboards)

Track Listing
1. Troubled Love
2. Keep it in the Dark
3. Real Love
4. Hit and Run
5. Man in the Mirror
6. Natural High
7. Jealous Heart
8. Touch My Soul
9. Send Me a Dream
10. Pride
11. Get Real
12. How Does it Feel
13. Living on the Streets
14. Cool

Label: Steamhammer, SPV


Hardrock Haven rating: 6/10