Unchained

Album: Fair Warning (1981)

Songfacts®:

  • It's not all that clear what's going on in this song, but it sure does rock. The lyric is mostly an exercise in vocal dexterity, with the line "Blue-eyed murder in a side-swiped dress" leading into the rousing chorus. The song was a live favorite for the band.
  • In the middle of this song, David Lee Roth makes fun of an executive that walked into the studio while they were recording it ("that suit is YOU..."). Roth would add commentary on a separate track while the band played the instrumental parts, and his comments were sometimes added to the mix ("Everybody Wants Some" is an example). The voice that says, "Come on, Dave, gimme a break" is their producer, Ted Templeman.
  • When Van Halen released their album 1984, they crossed over to the pop realm, but Fair Warning (released in 1981, the same year Eddie Van Halen married Valerie Bertinelli) was very much a rock album. No singles were released from the album, but "Unchained" got lots of airplay on Album Oriented Rock (AOR) stations, which were prevalent at the time, and it endured as a live favorite for the band.
  • Van Halen made a video for this song, but the band barely cooperated as they had no interest in the medium. MTV had recently launched, so Van Halen's label hired the director Bruce Gowers to shoot one of their concerts and turn it into a video. He shot the concert, but the band provided no additional lighting on stage. Gowers handed the footage off to Robert Lombard, who owned a production company and pieced together the clip. The band loved the results and decided to make more videos. Their next one, which they had Lombard direct, was for their cover of "(Oh) Pretty Woman."

Comments: 19

  • Brett from Texaswas "unchained"ever used in a movie?
  • Jeff from Austin, TxI've never been more than a casual VH fan, I never really loved them or hated them. But this is one of my favorite riffs ever...top 5 for sure
  • John from Wyandotte, MiWomen & children first and Fair warning were recorded about the time Eddie started to absolutely hate Dave Lee Roth. As a result these were pretty dark records. It took two more records and tours to end that line up. Out goes Dave in comes Sammy.
  • Deethewriter from Saint Petersburg, Russia FederationThe readers of Rolling Stone magazine have voted "Unchained" as their favorite Van Halen song, according to a new poll that asked fans to name their 10 favorite tracks from the legendary band. Eighty percent of the final list of songs came from the David Lee Roth era of the group, while 20 percent voted for tunes featuring singer Sammy Hagar. No tracks from vocalist Gary Cherone's brief tenure were selected.

    "Unchained" is from Van Halen's fourth album, 1981's Fair Warning, which is often regarded as the group's heaviest effort. Rolling Stone said about the track, "It's not quite as famous as 'Jump' or 'Hot for Teacher,' but 'Unchained' has frequently been voted the favorite song of Van Halen fans. During the interlude, producer Ted Templeman breaks in and says 'Come on, Dave, gimme a break!' Dave responds with, 'One break, coming up!' According to legend, Ted felt that Dave was being too over the top and he scolded him. The band liked the moment and kept it in. Recent evidence suggests that the bit was rehearsed, but it's hard to say for sure. Like most things in the Van Halen world, there are two competing narratives of one event."
  • Dave from Philadelphia, PaThanks Kristine, was curious who that was. Great song but I have ones I like more from VH.
  • John from Asheville, NcIt's blue-eyed murder...not "mutha." Oh and great song. My favorite from VH. The greatest rock riff ever.
  • Steve from Patchogue, NyThis song features one of the greatest guitar riffs of all time. Fair Warning is my favorite VH album.
  • Russ from Richmond, VaIt's "blue-eyed mutha in a sized 5 dress".
  • Jeff from Anytown, MtTed Templeman also produced the Dobie Brothers beleive it or not.
  • Fast Eddie from Usa, IlThis is a song I'd like to turn on when I enter a room full of people at a party loaded with strangers. The intro is about the most kick ass in all of rock 'n' roll and matches my persona.
  • Jeremy from Seymour, Ctyeah and also Mean Street is on the radio all the time
  • Tom from East Lyme, Ct"This is the only track that still gets radio and concert play from the Fair Warning album." --What about "So this is love?" that gets lot's of air play...
  • Ponkeykog from Portland, OrActually, the break in the song where Dave says "That suit looks good on you..." is probably planned. He is talking to Van Halen producer, Ted Templeman NOT an "executive" as claimed by a previous poster. How do I know this? I'm a Van Halen nerd. Regardless, it's still funny.
  • Don from Newmarket, Canada"Hit the ground running" is what paratroopers are told when the take parachute training.
  • Duffy from Yakima, AlUnchained solo is the best solo ever! It just shows that a big muff fuzz rules! I heard he had DLR play the solo live.
  • Andrew from TorontoFair warning is my favourite VH album.Hands down-unchained,so this is love and sinners swing,to name a few.One word Awesome.
  • Kevin from Chester, ScTed Templeman also produced the first MONTROSE album - where coincidentally, Sammy was the vocalist!
  • Kristine from Loveland, Ohted templeman was the voice over that states "c'mon dave gimme a break".
  • John from New York, NyThe executive was Ted Templeman the Prodducer of All 6 Van halen Albums as well as some of DLR's solo work and one Van Hagar album
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