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Stand In the Fire (Remastered)

Warren Zevon

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Album Review

After the release of Warren Zevon's fourth album, Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School, he was clean and sober for the first time in years, and on-stage he was determined to make the most of his newfound strength and self-control. While his songs long had a dark and frantic undercurrent, Zevon was now capable of playing a no-holds-barred rock show where he could bring the sharper edges of his music to the forefront. Anyone who saw Zevon on what he called "The Dog Ate the Part We Didn't Like Tour" can attest to the fact he was in superb form, playing music that rocked hard while displaying intelligence, passion, and a sharply corrosive wit, and Stand in the Fire, recorded during a five-night stand at L.A.'s Roxy near the end of the tour, captures Zevon and his band at their peak. The musicians (anchored by flashy lead guitarist David Landau) pour out these tunes with plenty of fire, and the songs rock a lot harder than anything Zevon had summoned in the studio at that point. And the artist proved he was a superb rock & roll frontman on this tour, singing with mean-spirited glee (for a change, "Werewolves of London" and "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" sound just as menacing as they were meant to be) and spewing hilarious bile at every turn (his ad-libbed "the Ayatollah has his problems, too" on "Mohammed's Radio" alone is worth the price of admission). The set list is dominated by Zevon's better-known tunes of the period, though there are two otherwise unrecorded originals (the OK title cut and the blazing "The Sin"), and a rave-up encore on "Bo Diddley's a Gunslinger" that revels in the joyous surrealism of the lyrics, and if one might have hoped for a more imaginative selection of material, these guys nail everything on deck. No one argues that Warren Zevon is a gifted singer and songwriter, but Stand in the Fire proves that, when he wants to, he can also rock with the best of 'em. [In 2007, Rhino Records finally gave Stand in the Fire its long-overdue CD release. The new edition includes fine new liner notes from David Fricke (who reviewed the album for Rolling Stone on its initial release), a brief forward from Carl Hiaasen, and four bonus tracks recorded during the same run of Roxy shows. If the synthesizer-enhanced version of "Play It All Night Long" isn't as strong as one might wish, Zevon performs it full-out, and "Johnny Strikes Up the Band" is much improved over its studio version on Excitable Boy. Two solo piano and voice cuts close out the set, and if Zevon's voice is starting to fray on "Frank and Jesse James" and "Hasten Down the Wind," the fierce passion of his performances more than compensates, and only adds to one of the strongest and most underrated albums of Zevon's career.]

Biography

Born: 24 January 1947 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Few of rock & roll's great misanthropes were as talented, as charming, or as committed to their cynicism as Warren Zevon. A singer and songwriter whose music often dealt with outlaws, mercenaries, sociopaths, and villains of all stripes, Zevon's lyrics displayed a keen and ready wit despite their often uncomfortable narrative circumstances, and while he could write of love and gentler emotions, he did so with the firm conviction that such stories rarely end happily. Though he frequently worked...
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Stand In the Fire (Remastered), Warren Zevon
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