A storyteller like no other.
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By 1996, Warren Zevon’s rock star days were long gone. New albums were also infrequent. After this brief solo tour, Zevon would retreat into silence for another four years and emerge again in 2000 with the fatalistic “Life”ll Kill Ya”.
But there are many reasons to enjoy Zevon’s solo tours. You can hear his songs clearly and the lyrics are now up front and in your face. Zevon was a thinking man’s songwriter and a born storyteller. Too bad his final major label album, The Envoy, chilled his relationship with Asylum and they dropped him. The title song for The Envoy was actually dedicated to the then US envoy to Middle East, Philip Habib. These songs unfortunately were devoid of any hit material. What they had was humour, albeit dark, and stories that were off the beaten track. Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner and Mohammed’s Radio come to mind.
Although he was later picked up by Virgin Records, Zevon was already ricocheting from left to right trying to find a way back to fame and presumably fortune. He threw in his lot with R.E.M. and formed the Hindu Love Gods but that too failed to restart his career. Zevon would try everything at least once, even a concept album like Transverse City. His albums were also brimfull with big names. Still it didn’t help move units. By the ’90s, Zevon could no longer afford anything but to perform as a solo act. This wasn’t a bad thing.
As Zevon fan, sheepdip, pointed out, his solo shows threw up bits and pieces of music that he didn’t write but enjoyed. Finally, you could see Zevon wear his heart on his sleeve.
“What makes this one especially appealing are the little bits of strange cover material. Here, the introduction for ‘Excitable Boy’ is about 40 instrumental seconds of the eerily cheery murder ballad ‘Mack the Knife’ from ‘Threepenny Opera’. More valuable and amusing - Warren strums his guitar for a ripely sincere two minute version of Paul Anka’s ‘My Way’.
“Likewise, you can almost imagine Warren in the spotlight, surrounded by darkness, for Bob Dylan’s ‘Ring Them Bells’, another two-minute wonder. AND there’s also the moody American standard, ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is’. So you’ve got Warren in pretty blue mood at The Bluebird!”
Thanks to sheepdip who shared this on Dime.
- Professor Red
Click here and then scroll down to the comments section for some recording background on this show.
Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (224 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.
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Track 01. Mr. Bad Example (5.9MB)
Track 02. Carmelita > [banter and Dr. Babyhead intro] (7.2MB)
Track 03. [banter] > Figurine (11.6MB)
Track 04. Piano Fighter (6.1MB)
Track 05. Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner (9.7MB)
Track 06. [banter] (1.9MB)
Track 07. Don’t Let Us Get Sick (5.4MB)
Track 08. Bujumbura (4.7MB)
Track 09. Play It All Night Long (8.4MB)
Track 10. [instrumental intro to…] (4.5MB)
Track 11. Boom Boom Mancini (6.6MB)
Track 12. [banter] > You Don’t Know What Love Is [Raye/DePaul] (5.7MB)
Track 13. Mack the Knife [Blitzstein/Brecht/Weill] > Excitable Boy (8.5MB)
Track 14. Werewolves of London (6.8MB)
Track 15. My Way [Anka/Francois/Revaux/Thibault] (3.6MB)
Track 16. Lawyers, Guns and Money (5.3MB)
Track 17. Ring Them Bells [Dylan] (3.9MB)
Track 18. Mohammed’s Radio (7.6MB)
Warren Zevon on piano and guitar with Dr Babyhead on sax sometimes.
Not a single song from his then latest album, Mutineer, can be found in the show at The Bluebird club. It didn’t help that his then label, Giant, was going out of business. Buy Mutineer here.
A safer bet for new fans is to get the Rhino compilation, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (An Anthology), put out in 1996, just prior to this concert. Buy it here.
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