Hello, my name is Graham Lawrence Wilson, I am a contributor to many wikis and other projects.
I grew up on a cattle ranch in Alberta, Canada, about an hours drive west (near Seba Beach) of Edmonton, where Zevon played his last ever concert performance at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. My parents actually went to that festival and a friend of theirs assisted Zevon off the stage. I didn't get into Zevon until early 2008 when my older brother dug out a copy of A Quiet Normal Life: The Best of Warren Zevon out of my mother's CD collection and played it. My parents had shown me a video of "Werewolves of London" on YouTube a few months earlier, but it had seemed too much like an ordinary rock song of the era (if one with nice dark humour) for me to be interested in him as an artist (all I got out of it was that for some reason the way Zevon's looked in that video reminded me of Canadian politician Stéphane Dion). When I heard the greatest hits album however, Zevon's excellent and varied songwriting (the thing that makes him eons better than most musicians) is what got me interested. From there me and User:Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner scrambled to get a hold of all the Zevon albums we could. This culminated in Come to the Dark Side, our personal greatest hits album.
I guess one of the reasons I like Zevon is that my family has not been terribly well off, my father not having steady employment for nearly a decade and my mother having a currently manageable but serious spinal condition (I and my oldest brother also have scoliosis, "The cattlemen all have scoliosis..." ;-P). Zevon also had a hard life, and following the proverb "you must suffer to write" wrote great songs because of it I think, and in such a way that I could connect to it. It also seemed to make him seem more humble and real, compared to the insanely rich phony musicians supported and advertised viciously by major recording companies, which as I said by not being well off makes me not like them in the least.
Well, that and being a rancher I have had a more rough and tumble life, what with fencing, calving, and the every so often critical and nerve racking emergency, that and as I said, not having stable employment meaning we have to fix anything that breaks (wells, sewers, fridges, washing machines, driers, furnaces, computers, etc). What I am describing could be called gritty rural, and even though Zevon was gritty urban from the mean streets of Los Angles, not the fields of Central Alberta, it all connects (not to mention me being a family farmer and a wiki moderator is kind of appropriate considering LACE ;-D). Then of course there is the simple fact that Zevon was an eccentric and I am an eccentric, and I love to hear tales of Zevon's eccentricity (like how he wrote "Hit Somebody! (The Hockey Song)" in a similar way that a lot of programmers, including myself, like to operate, a long stretch without sleep). Zevon is the musician for my taste.
Oh, and just for the hell of it. This is the link between Warren Zevon and Doom. The title for that most popular computer game comes from a line spoken by Tom Cruise in The Colour of Money in a scene where he is playing pool. In another or maybe even the same scene (I have not seen the film myself) "Werewolves of London" is famously playing in the background! So there you have, there is a link between the two geniuses Warren Zevon and John Carmack!
The Bottom Line
A shot note on Zevon merchandise, organized by date of recordings, not but release date.
Um... what can I say other than, very sixties? It takes quite a few listens to be able to recognize Warren, his voiced changed a lot in terms of pitch between the time of these recordings and Wanted Dead or Alive or Warren Zevon. Though still, this is not to say that it is bad. The songs are well sung and Violet "cybelle" Santegalo provides a decent enough backing to Warren's voice. Warren's songwriting is not yet up to snub compared to even the tunes from Wanted Dead or Alive with "Follow Me" and "Outside Chance" being lyrically unastonishing. Though still, it is songs like that that everyone else seems addicted to playing and writing... Warren was already competent even as a high-schooler, he was just not exceptional yet. There is a certain variety on the album in that there are harmonies such as "Like the Seasons" and the "I've Just Seen a Face" cover to duo performances in the proper sense such as "Follow Me" and the "If You Gotta Go, Go Now" cover. "(You Use To) Ride So High" is also interesting, given its alternate version on Preludes: Rare and Unreleased Recordings and the whole Motorcycle Abeline thing as is the, considerably scratchy, "A Bullet for Ramona" cover. If you are interested in music from the sixites it is worth getting, though if you want that proper Zevon we all know and love I would stay away. He is not really Zevon yet and I can not recommend the last two tracks with the Wayne Earl vocals as Santegalo is not enough to remedy the annoying flow of those two.
An introduction to the early work of Zevon, and contains the catchy song for which the album is named. Other highlights being "A Bullet for Ramona" (appropriate for when I am doing Spanish classes and getting sick of writing the name Ramona...) and "Traveling in the Lightning" (a candidate for best song on the album). Still there is already an interesting amount of experimentation in Zevon's work, partly because he wasn't sure of his style as of them but also because a true artist never gets himself stuck in a single genre. "She Quit Me" providing a vaguely folk blues tune to the album and "Gorilla", despite its shortness, being curiously odd. "Tule's Blues" is interesting, but not quite as masterfully performed as on the reissued Excitable Boy or Preludes: Rare and Unreleased Recordings. It is not a song to be played so... upbeatly. Still, all in all the album is entertaining to listen to, even if Zevon was not a master yet. Zevon's own negative reflections on the album aside, I actually enjoy Wanted Dead or Alive. I hope they remaster it, but I doubt it.
What can I say? It is a masterpiece. Contains the sardonic melancholy atmosphere masterpieces "Desperados Under the Eaves", "Carmelita" and "The French Inhaler", the undeniably funny "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead", "Poor Poor Pitiful Me", and "Mama Couldn't Be Persuaded", and last but not least, the greats "Mohammed's Radio" and "Frank and Jesse James". Zevon's talent had developed a lot in the decade since Wanted Dead or Alive, most notably in songwriting. Thus his transformation from promising but still not quite mature artist to master complete! This album is a definite thing to get, and I heartily recommend its new "Collectors Edition" version.
In this album Zevon moved a bit more away from folk music and more into rock (though he had always been a bit of both), while still maintaining his epic and intelligent songwriting. These more rock oriented sounds are seen in songs like "Werewolves of London", "Lawyers, Guns and Money", and the album's namesake. However songs like "Johnny Strikes up the Band" and "Accidentally Like a Martyr" maintain a more folk-ish quality, in both areas Zevon excels. Finally, there is "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner", one of my all time favourite songs, which is a pure example of epic storytelling! Zevon continued in good form with this, his best selling ever album (though he got sick of singing of those infernal werewolves after a while!).
Another classic, if not a little weird too.
A most underappreciated but greatly enjoyable collection of music.
The best way to be introduced to Zevon's music. Genius: The Best of Warren Zevon is newer but has worse choices in what it included, though it is what introduced me to his post 1987 greats like "Mr. Bad Example" and "Splendid Isolation". At any rate, get them this and if they get hooked on Warren's music you can move them onto the big guns I'll Sleep When I'm Dead (An Anthology). Now I am biased given that I was introduced properly to Zevon through my mother's copy of A Quit Normal Life, which she found hiding in a store rack, but it is definitely the cream of Warren's 1976 to 1982 crop. From the expected "Werewolves of London" to the more surprising inclusion of "Ain't that Pretty at All" Warren's, as well as Waddy and the rest's, talents really shines. I now treat the album with almost religious reverence (hence my bad imitation) for it was part of a personal golden age, 2008, a year to end all years. It was the year I founded the Blood Wiki and expanded my literary horizons. It lead me to working on this wiki (I still love playing this disk inside Transfusion, funny...). Anyways, moving on. The songs flow excellently from one great musical treat to the next, feeling perfectly seventies or perfectly early eighties for that matter, while having a timeless quality of a great writer. The only issue is that these are now glaring worse than their re-issued studio counterparts as they are not re-mastered, note the "taken from analog recordings" disclaimer on the jewel case. Get this CD, get what got me interested in music again (well other than video game soundtracks, yeah Bobby Prince!) "Roland was a warrior... Everybody desperate, but they got no place to go... Send the envoy..."
Zevon's comeback was none too shabby I must say!
A rather odd album, but catchy never the less.
The pinnacle of Zevon's 1900s career, containing such greats as the album's namesake and "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead".
This album is a bit disappointing, I only have one song from it in me and my brother's favourites album, "Rottweiler Blues". However, I would just chop that down to my own personal tastes. I am sure some people love this album. More recently I have been listening to "Seminole Bingo", mostly due to User:Doom Reverb's article, and liking it a lot. It has helped give me some more appreciation for this album, though it is hardly my favourite. "Piano Fighter" and "The Indifference of Heaven" add a bit more to it, though in many ways I prefer their original live versions on Learning to Flinch; "Poisonous Lookalike" is alright as well. Still songs like "Similar to Rain", "Jesus Was a Cross Maker" (though Jesus chasing the devil with a pistol was funny) and "Something Bad Happened to a Clown" are just too weird for me I'm afraid.
Sometimes called Zevon's second comeback, and again, no loss in quality, if anything Zevon got better since Mutineer!
I say get this album now!!!!!
Not much to be said, except that Zevon produced another great album!
Even knockin' on heaven's door, Zevon still produces a great album.
Not what I expected at all. I will not make the same mistake that so many other reviewers made by saying you should not compare Jordan to Warren then go on and do it anyways. Let me get this out of the way, I think Warren's music is better. I don't terribly care for pop and are far more into Warren's rock/folk cross. That out of the way, Jordan's work isn't bad. I came into it with low expectations because I just might have a warped idea of what "pop" is. When people say "pop" I think that modern racket where people who "look the part" but can't sing are morphed into barley listenable whines or screeches by unnamed technicians (yes I've got opinions, or is that issues?). Apparently Jordan's "pop" is more late 1980s early 1990s.
What made me go out and see for myself what son was like was listening to "Studebaker" on Preludes: Rare and Unreleased Recordings and then looking it up and hearing Jordan's cover on YouTube. He does not sound like his old man, well maybe a little like how he does on The First Sessions... Though it is a bit more when he covers Warren's material such as his live cover of "Searching for a Heart". Moving on, having been satisfied by "Studebaker" I saw him perform "The Joke's On Me" live on the Internet (which oddly sounds a little off now that I have heard the studio version, I think the CBS Orchestra was throwing it off). The song was written cleverly enough, and no I am not one of those immature gits getting all uptight over his use of the word "masturbating", even though I could not really connect to the white-collar loser in the song (even though an oppressed white collar worker turned zombie splatterer is the lead in my game Windys) I could still enjoy it.
Getting the full album has revealed a few things about father and son. Warren sang about those whose lives had already bottomed out or had gone strange like the addict in "Carmelita" or con-man in "Mr. Bad Example". Jordan sings about those who worry about that happening or reflect on it, like the husband-to-be and his fiance in "Payday", the temporally unsure man in "Tomorrow" (the one not included on Insides Out, other than his version of "Warm Rain" on Hurry Home Early which I have yet to hear, seemingly due to it being one of Jordan's more eclectic pieces), or the college sleaze-ball in regret shown in "American Standard". Though where Warren sang of real manifested sorrow or the just plain evil, Jordan sings of the border-line annoying, such as the quirks of one "Camilla Rhodes". At the same time his romantic ballads take on a different tone, "This Girl" and "Just Do That" are songs of loving adoration without the deep loss of a departing lover (as in "Accidentally Like a Martyr" or even "She Quit Me") or a begging attempt at reconciliation (as in, obviously, "Reconsider Me").
Jordan's love songs describe either an exasperated show of satisfaction/affection as in "Just Do That" or a glowing reflection of the girl who lifts "her little victim of circumstance" out of his little pit in "This Girl" (I have an attraction to line "back in 1998" as that makes me think of all the great games from that year: Blood II, Shogo, SiN, AoE: RoR, etc... not terribly relevant but what are you going to do about it?). The closest things I can think towards that in Warren's songbook is "Mohammed's Radio" and that is a different type of uplifting altogether. Then again Jordan seems to have, as far as I know, been happily married for a number of years now, compared to Warren's fractious relationships, especially outside of Tule and Crystal, so that might account for his less sorrowful take of the subject. Moving on to "Home" I was not immediately sure of what it was, only later learning that it was supposed to be about dealing with the death of Warren (this is the song that references the "you think you have problems..." look). You got to admit that it is a bit of a bitch to lose your father and mother to two different cancers in only so many years, I am surprised there is not a song called "Kill Those Rebellious Cells" about slaughtering cancer once and for all.
Moving on to "Too Late to Be Saved" I am not surprised that many people signalled this one out for praise as it is the most striking on the album in many ways. The song's focus on word-play contrasts the others that are equally focused on tune. "There's a message in this bottle and I'll drink until I find it...", "And I pray there is no God to answer to, what would I say... then he'd wish me well and send me straight to hell..." The song is in many ways the most disparaging of the character in the song, ala Warren. The worker in "The Joke's On Me" is only, seemingly, a loser, this guy is one of the dammed-to-be contemplating his many less than sacrosanct ways. Not as pleasing a closer as "Desperados Under the Eaves" but it will do nicely.
Some have said that Jordan has not really created his own sound and style, and well I can't agree with that based on my knowledge. I have never heard anyone like him, though you have to factor in my limited range of knowledge about other artists. I am sure he sounds like other people, he reminds me kind of the easy listening music they play at my dentist (again, the late 80s kick) but with much more visceral and intelligent lyrics. Jordan is his own man, he is not Warren (despite inheriting a certain sense of humour and literacy, though less gritty) and he is not anyone else either. I am waiting to see how he will grow into a new album... wink... wink...