Category: Warren Zevon

Warren Zevon – Excitable Boy

ARTIST: Warren Zevon                    220px-excitable_boy_cover

TITLE:  Excitable Boy

YEAR RELEASED: 1978

CHART ACTION: #8

SINGLES: Excitable Boy, Werewolves of London (#21), Lawyers, Guns, and Money

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Johnny Strikes Up the Band, Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner, Accidentally Like a Martyr.

LINEUP: Warren Zevon, Jorge Calderon, Danny Kortchmar, Russ Kunkel, Jackson Browne, Kenny Edwards, JD Souther, Waddy Wachtel, Bob Glaub, Rick Marotta, Jeff Porcaro, Karla Bonoff, Linda Ronstadt, Leland Sklar, Jennifer Warnes. Mick Fleetwood and John McVie play on Werewolves of London.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT:  A fantastic album buoyed by a classic song, which was an unlikely hit.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Most every song on this record is a Zevon classic, which means well-written, impeccably arranged and played, sardonic, sarcastic, political, and darkly humorous.

Zevon can make you singalong to African mercenaries, trust funders in over their head, and werewolves. In fact, the only song that’s questionable is the title track, which seemed a bit forced and tossed off for a song about a teenage killer. Maybe that was the point, though.

Everyone who was someone in the LA session world was part of this album, with Jackson Browne and Waddy Wachtel producing. It sounds nearly perfect, and also a lot of fun to make, which is a hard thing to do. Zevon’s songs will do that to you. I can see musicians loving to play them.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Yeah, with the LA scene came the cocaine. Wachtel said that it only took him one take to get the solo for “Werewolves of London” down, and he didn’t have a chance to take a hit of the coke before hand. I’m sure he got a bump or two after, though.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A few outtakes.

GRADE: A: And now you have the piano riff from “Werewolves of London” in yer head.

Warren Zevon – Warren Zevon

ARTIST: Warren Zevon Warren_Zevon_-_Warren_Zevon
TITLE: Warren Zevon
YEAR RELEASED: 1976
CHART ACTION: #189
SINGLES: Hasten Down the Wind, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Poor Poor Pitiful Me, Mohammed’s Radio, Desperados Under the Eaves.
LINEUP: Warren Zevon, Waddy Wachtel, Bob Glaub, David Lindley, Larry Zack, and many other LA session players including Don Henley, Lindsey Buckingham, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, JD Souther, Stevie Nicks, Phil Everly, Carl Wilson, and Glenn Frey.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Acerbic songwriter Zevon records first solo album in years after kicking around the margins of the industry while making excellent friends and connections.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Warren Zevon had been an aspiring songwriter and performer in LA since the mid-60’s, and had a couple of records out that went nowhere. He then worked as the bandleader for the Everly Brothers and kicked around Europe before settling back in LA.

Through friends and connections, Asylum Records signed him and he went into the studio with many of those friends to create this first solo album. While it didn’t sell very well, it introduced Zevon to critics and others in the industry and his fame as a songwriter became well known.

The sessions sound very typical of the time – picture a Linda Ronstadt or Jackson Browne album – and those arrangements suit Zevon pretty well. Most of the songs are well crafted with help on arrangements from Carl Wilson and Browne (who produced).

You may not be as familiar with the lesser-known songs on this album, like “Frank and Jesse James” but it’s worthwhile and a great intro to Zevon.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: I didn’t review it because it’s terrible, but his 1969 solo album is streaming. It was co-produced by Kim Fowley and a couple of the songs have some of that Zevon spark – it just was rushed and ill-conceived. Zevon himself disowned it. The only reason it’s around is that Capitol Records remastered it right before he passed away.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with demos and other takes.

GRADE: A-: He’s so much deeper than “Werewolves of London” so if you know any other Zevon songs you should probably check this out for sure.