Sound — 7
Although Fair Warning certainly rocked hard, it marginally undersold previous releases. Perhaps fearing the end, the band released Diver Down just a year later. This is evidenced by the albums back cover, which depicts the band playing arena sized shows. And that is surely where they intended to stay, (over)compensating with this streamlined release. Unfortunately, this marked the first signs of writer's block the band had faced (understandable at the rate they were releasing albums). The disc clocks in at just over half an hour and features no fewer than five covers (including sure fire hits like (oh) Pretty Woman and shorter novelty numbers like Happy Trails). But what originals there are are surprisingly good, pre-empting the more melodic song writing that was to mark the hight of Van Halen's popularity with 1984. Little guitars is a flawed song but fantastic once it gets going and Hang Em's High would arguably have been a great choice for a single. Also of note is Cathedral, another EVH instrumental. Yes, it is actually played on guitar, albeit with constant volume knob wabbling.
Lyrics — 7
If evidence was ever needed that Dave Lee Roth was the better of the two VH lyricists, it can be found on tracks like Secrets and Little Guitars. He may come back to the familiar themes of sex and girls, but he can do it with wit and subtlety, and create superb visual imagery as he does so. Yes, he is Sexy rather than Sexist. But since the album is dominated by covers, his poeticism is largely irrelevant.
Overall Impression — 7
So what we have here is an accomplished release, but a somewhat forced one. An upside is that unlike albums such as Women And Children First, the variety of material stops the album from blending into one. However, the band was saving up for 1984, and it shows. Still, it is well worth the price tag for a Van Halen fan, and this is usually pretty low given that is something of a bargain bin staple.