OTG's Top Ten - 2007
Warren Zevon Reissues


There were lots of surprises for Zevon fans this year: the US CD debut of two long out-of-print albums, Stand In The Fire and The Envoy, a CDs worth of demos, and a brutally honest biography (I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: The Dirty Life And Times Of Warren Zevon) by Warren's ex-wife Crystal (written with excerpts from Warren's diary and his instructions to not pull any punches).

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Excitable Boy

Zevon's commercial breakthrough, Excitable Boy is probably best known for "Werewolves Of London", but the witty trio of "Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner", "Excitable Boy" and "Lawyers, Guns And Money" are every bit the classic that "Werewolves" is. The bonus tracks are great: the a capella "I Need A Truck" is a blast, and the three alternate versions are interesting listening. The best starting point for Zevon's early work.

tracks: "Johnny Strikes Up The Band","Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner", "Excitable Boy", "Werewolves Of London", "Accidentally Like A Martyr", "Nighttime In The Switching Yard", "Veracruz", "Tenderness On The Block", "Lawyers, Guns And Money"

bonus tracks: "I Need A Truck", "Werewolves Of London" [Alternate Version], "Tule's Blues" [Solo Piano Version], "Frozen Notes" [Strings Version]

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Stand In The Fire

Long out of print, Stand In The Fire is a live album recorded after 1980's Bad Luck Streak In Dancing School, and it captures Zevon and band blazing through the best of his early catalog plus two new songs (the killer "Stand In The Fire" and "The Sin") and a strange run through a Bo Diddley cover. The reissue adds four more recordings from the same era, and they're just as good. Great stuff. Hard to believe it was left out of print for so long.

tracks: "Stand In The Fire", "Jeannie Needs A Shooter", "Excitable Boy", "Mohammed's Radio", "Werewolves Of London", "Lawyers, Guns And Money", "The Sin", "Poor Poor Pitiful Me", "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead", "Bo Diddley's A Gunslinger / Bo Diddley"

bonus tracks: "Johnny Strikes Up The Band" "Play It All Night Long", "Frank And Jesse James", "Hasten Down The Wind"

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The Envoy

The Envoy was Zevon's last release before being dropped from his label. Overall, it's a little unven, although "The Envoy", "Charlie's Medicine" and "Looking For The Next Best Thing" are classics. I wouldn't start with this one, but if you're a fan, it's definitely worth hearing. The bonus tracks add two new Zevon songs, plus a goofy cover of The Troggs' "Wild Thing".

tracks: "The Envoy", "The Overdraft", "The Hula Hula Boys", "Jesus Mentioned", "Let Nothing Come Between You", "Ain't That Pretty At All", "Charlie's Medicine", "Looking For The Next Best Thing", "Never Too Late For Love"

bonus tracks: "Word Of Mouth", "Let Nothing Come Between You" [Alternate Version], "The Risk", "Wild Thing"

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Warren Zevon
Preludes: Rare And Unreleased Recordings

Preludes is a brand new double CD compiled from a box of undated demo tapes found by Warren's son Jordan. It's wonderful listening. There's a few previously unreleased gems here, like solo recordings like "Empty Hearted Town", "Join Me In L.A." and "Stop Rainin' Lord" that sounds like they would have fit on Zevon's debut album, and the full band demos of "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" and "Werewolves Of London" are fascinating. "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" is a rough take that isn't that different from the official version, but "Werewolves" is very different with a bit of a creepy feel. Different, but great. The second disc, titled Primate Discourse, is an interesting Zevon interview from 2000 with two songs from Life'll Kill Ya and a live take on "Don't Let Us Get Sick".

tracks (Preludes: Rare And Unreleased Recordings): "Empty Hearted Town", "Steady Rain", "Join Me In L.A.", "Hasten Down The Wind", "Werewolves Of London", "Tule's Blues", "The French Inhaler", "Going All The Way", "Poor Poor Pitiful Me", "Studebaker", "Accidentally Like A Martyr", "Carmelita", "I Used To Ride So High", "Stop Rainin' Lord", "The Rosarita Beach Cafe", "Desperados Under The Eaves"

tracks (Primate Discourse: Warren Zevon Talks): "I Was In The House When The House Burned Down", "Warren speaks on songwriting and the early days of his career" [interview segment], "Musings on mortality, song noir and The King of Rock n' Roll" [interview segment], "A chat about producers and the stark sounds on the album Life'll Kill Ya" [interview segment], "Back In The High Life Again", "Warren's take on Winwood's classic and Warren's inspirations" [interview segment], "Talk of TV, movies, acting and performing" [interview segment], "Don't Let Us Get Sick" [live - solo acoustic]

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