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Old 08-24-2010, 03:46 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Dirty Life & Times - An In Depth Look At Warren Zevon

Hello MB! Here is my first try at a giant review/history thread. Suggestions are welcome! Hope you all enjoy. So here it is:

Warren Zevon - Dirty Life & Times

So thanks to Jedey here is Warren first musical breakthrough:

Lyme & Cybelle - Follow Me


Personally I like the song. But it definitely does not foreshadow the rest of Warren's career. What I found was that Lyme & Cybelle only released 3 songs, the one post being the only one to attain chart success and recognition.

Also unfortunately I am going to skip Wanted Dead Or Alive (1969)
Because I have yet to find a copy. I am going to go chronologically through his Solo works from 1976's S/T - 2003's The Wind. If you feel I missed out on anything let me know and I will be sure to fix it.

I want this thread to give something back to MB, just as it have given something back to me, so I want no mistakes here. Thanks!

A little history:

After no success came with his first try in 69', Warren got his big break through back in 1975 when Jackson Browne produced his S/T. Being unknown at this time, Warren was lucky to have quite an array of great musicians play on this album.
Famous musicians credited on the album:

Phil Everly, Jackson Browne, Lindsey Buckingham & Stevie Nicks, Glenn Frey & Don Henley and Bonnie Raitt. Also less known Waddy Wachtel a long time Zevon collaborator & fantastic guitar player.

Later Warren would work with the likes of Neil Young, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen & Dave Gilmour just to name a few.

Review Ratings will be on a 1 - 10 Scale
9 - 10 A Masterpiece in my mind.
7 - 8 Great solid album
5 - 6 Some Good songs, but not full enough
1 - 5 ....Hmmm I probably won't listen again...

So next comes the actual album review..

Warren Zevon - S/T (1976)


Track Listing:
1. Frank & Jesse James
2. Mama Couldn't Be Persuaded
3. Backs Turned Looking Down The Path
4. Hasten Down The Wind
5. Poor Poor Pitiful Me
6. The French Inhaler
7. Mohammed's Radio
8. I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
9. Carmelita
10. Join Me In L.A.
11. Desperados Under The Eaves

Most notably from this album is the song "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" which was covered by Linda Ronstadt in 1977. Linda's Multi-Platinum album "Simple Dreams" also contained a cover of Zevon's "Carmelita".

This album contains quite a few recognizable hits from Zevon's catalog:
Frank & Jesse James (Though not quite as big as the others)
Hasten Down The Wind
Poor Poor Pitiful Me
The French Inhaler
Mohammed's Radio
& I'll Sleep When I'm Dead (Which is also part of the title of his Biography)

Overall I give this album a 8/10
It is a very solid album, with a real rootsy/country/rock vibe. This album does not have much of the Macbre/Demented Humor Zevon uses later on (I.E. Excitable Boy). The Musicianship is Top-Notch (judging by the names associated you can probably guess that though lol), The use of piano & saxophone really stand out to me through out the album, they are not the dominant instruments but they give it a real groovy/laid back feel that I really enjoy. Warren mostly plays Piano on this album, he would play more guitar later on. He also plays a little Harmonica here as well. To me he is a very accomplished Piano & Harmonica player. It is a little harder to tell here which such amazing musicians accompanying him, but in later reviews I'll point out where I love his work.

Back on topic: This album is not my favorite of his, but it is a good album which I thoroughly enjoy. It is a little more laid back & slower than later albums, which is why I personally rated it an 8. I prefer his more rockin' tunes. But all the songs here are well written and composed. The cohesiveness is great and I think this album is where he finally found his sound. If you like Warren at all you should check this album out. It really foreshadows his later sound, at least I think so.

This thing is getting a little long now though so I think I'll end it here for now.

Again please post any suggestions or PM them to me.

Thanks! And I hope you all enjoy

O! and if anyone wants an album of his I am sure I can get it too you.
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Old 08-24-2010, 08:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by jtwilliams View Post

Also unfortunately I am going to skip Wanted Dead Or Alive (1969)
Because I have yet to find a copy. I am going to go chronologically through his Solo works from 1976's S/T - 2003's The Wind. If you feel I missed out on anything let me know and I will be sure to fix it.
You're not going to do "Enjoy every Sandwich"?
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You had a cassette in 2004?
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Old 08-24-2010, 11:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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You're not going to do "Enjoy every Sandwich"?
I wasn't planning on it, since its really a tribute album.
But since their is interest I will add it to the list

Also I will add the 2 live albums he did to the list as well
So here whats left to come:

Excitable Boy - 1978
Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School - 1980
Stand in the Fire - 1980 -- [Live]
The Envoy - 1982
Sentimental Hygiene - 1987
Transverse City - 1989
Hindu Love Gods - 1990 (As a member of "Hindu Love Gods")
Mr. Bad Example - 1991
Learning to Flinch - 1993 -- [Live]
Mutineer - 1995
Life'll Kill Ya - 2000
My Ride's Here - 2002
The Wind - 2003
Enjoy Every Sandwich: The Songs of Warren Zevon - 2004

So theres the list and the order they will come in.
Side note: I have to find a copy of Hindu Love Gods, it wasn't meant for release but they did release it so I will go find one soon.
If your not familiar with that one, it is basically REM minus Michael Stipe, fronted by Warren. Sounds awesome to me. It is one of the only ones I haven't yet heard.

Did you like the first review TheBig3KilledMyRainDog?
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Old 08-26-2010, 04:32 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Did you like the first review TheBig3KilledMyRainDog?
Yes but I think we're different musically. After reading it I think I'd like it. Sounds to me like "Closing Time" or "Sweet Baby James."
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Old 08-26-2010, 05:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Next up 1978's Excitable Boy:

Warren Zevon - Excitable Boy

Track Listing:
1. Johnny Strikes Up The Band
2. Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner
3. Excitable Boy
4. Werewolves Of London
5. Accidentally Like A Martyr
6. Night Time In The Switching Yard
7. Veracruz
8. Tenderness On The Block
9. Lawyers, Guns & Money

Rating: 10/10
This album starts of with "Johnny Strikes Up The Band" a good rockin' tune, which is THE perfect song to start a good rockin' album. Now I won't come in here and pretend to be any good with lyrics and trying to figure out what songs are about, so most likely I won't put any of that type of stuff in my reviews. If I do it will just be either my opinion or what the songs makes me feel. This album has Warren's most recognizable tunes; "Werewolves of London" (which kid rock f@ckin' ripped off!) & "Excitable Boy". Both of which I love. In fact I love this ENTIRE album, not a dud on it. I will admit some of the songs are growers, but they're all great songs.

This album really shows Warren's Macbre outlook and songwriting, especially in the songs "Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner", "Excitable Boy" & "Werewolves Of London". The first 4 songs really get you into a good rockin' mood. "Johnny" the perfect opener, "Roland", the macbre but beautifully arranged follow up, "Excitable Boy", my favorite piano & sax accompanied song. Then "Werewolves", which granted has been overplayed but is a good song. Then comes the slower "Accidentally Like A Martyr", I really like the chorus about all the different love makin' lol. Not exactly my favorite song on the album but a good one. Then you get into "Night Time In The Switching Yard", this one of the whole album sounds a little outta place. Don't get me wrong its a great tune, with a little bit of a Funk feel, which I think is great. But it sounds like a clear-cut normal funk-rock song, not a Warren song. In any case it is a stand out for me. Then two more slower songs "Veracruz" & "Tenderness On The Block", I prefer "Tenderness" of the two, but from some reason I do love the spanish sang verse in "Veracruz", even though I have no Idea what is being said lol. Then finally the perfect closer for this album. "Lawyers, Guns & Money", again not sure what this is about but its a good rockin' song with some feeling, and possibly a little "what the hell was I doin?" thrown in. Electric or Acoustic, I love this song.

Stand outs for me:
Johnny Strikes Up The Band
Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner
Excitable Boy
Night Time In The Switching Yard
&
Lawyers, Guns & Money

As you can see from the rating I feel this is a masterpiece. Warren really found his sound here. From start to finish theres not a dud. And the musicianship, though not including a lot of big names like his last, is still top-notch and not over done.

If you are interested in checking out Warren's music, I would highly recommend this album, as I feel it is his most accessible and contains a good overview of his style all in one neat 9 song package

That's it for this one

Any thoughts MB?
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Old 08-26-2010, 05:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Yes but I think we're different musically. After reading it I think I'd like it. Sounds to me like "Closing Time" or "Sweet Baby James."
Actually I haven't found any other person that I am really that similar too, musically. Oh well. To each his own eh?

As for those two albums you mentioned I have not yet heard those, but it could be. It is a really different album compared to his later works.
Also glad you liked it.
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Old 08-26-2010, 06:06 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I had never heard that Lyme & Cybelle song Follow Me, it definitely has it's own allure as a historical curiosity. It reminds me of the psychedelic pop of 60s groups like the Free Design, Cykle, & the Lemon Pipers.
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:35 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Any thoughts MB?
Your reviews are probably the farthest I've ever dived into Mr. Zevon's catalog save for some radio-freidnly hits and a tribute album. I don't so much are about lyrical interpertations so I don't mind that they aren't here, but I'd love to hear you speak more to what you like about the music.

Currently you see to give it the up/down vote; this was good, this wasn't so good. I'd love to hear your opinion on why. What struck you? What bothered you.

I'm certainly going to Youtube some of these songs now, based no your reviews, but I'd like to get a little taste of what it has in it. Like ingredients listed on a menu. Maybe you hate song X because it has Miramba in it. But if I like Miramba, I might go check it out.

I hope that was coherent. Also, Gavin - where the hell have you been?
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Old 08-27-2010, 11:52 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBig3KilledMyRainDog View Post
Your reviews are probably the farthest I've ever dived into Mr. Zevon's catalog save for some radio-freidnly hits and a tribute album. I don't so much are about lyrical interpertations so I don't mind that they aren't here, but I'd love to hear you speak more to what you like about the music.

Currently you see to give it the up/down vote; this was good, this wasn't so good. I'd love to hear your opinion on why. What struck you? What bothered you.

I'm certainly going to Youtube some of these songs now, based no your reviews, but I'd like to get a little taste of what it has in it. Like ingredients listed on a menu. Maybe you hate song X because it has Miramba in it. But if I like Miramba, I might go check it out.

I hope that was coherent. Also, Gavin - where the hell have you been?
I think I get you. I will definitely add that in there. I am thinking I may add appendages for the 1st two as well. Thanks for the advice.
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Old 08-28-2010, 03:53 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Appendage #1 Warren Zevon - S/T


Why do I like this album?

I absolutely LOVE, old school, roots/blues/country rock type stuff. With that acoustic guitar, the piano and don't forget the liberal usage of harmonica. Damn I love harmonica! I am also quite a fan of Warren's somewhat unusual (at least to me) piano style. I just love the raw feel you get when you mix those instruments. Ya electric guitar is cool, but c'mon! Acoustic can't be beat here! Also the way Warren uses Electric guitar I am fond of. A lot of the time its not at the forefront. There are solos and what not, but I love that they are not overdone and its not about the guitar in anyway. It's more like a story. I think maybe that's what I like most, the good instrumentation of instruments I adore along with a story.
If all country music sounded more like this, I would probably be a big fan of it. But I hate they way most country artists sing.

Another reason I love Warren some much is his unique voice. I can hear a song of his for the first time, and KNOW its him. That really strikes a chord with me internally.

This album is a little less of like for me than the rest for one reason: I am also a big fan of his wierd, macbre, demented, satirical humor and lyrics. Though I am terrible at telling what the actually mean, they remind me of Tom Waits type lyrics a lot of the time. I also happen to be a big Tom fan, so go figure lol.
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