Pass The A1
Anyway, the reissues world, or more accurately the repackaging business, the final rock upon which the record has washed up upon, has had some highlights recently that I keep going back to over and over. Here's a pair of angular catalogs if there ever was: Warren Zevon and Sly Stone.
Zevon was quite a trip. I remember interviewing him in Toronto in 2002 while he was still sober and before the cancer. The sardonicism oozed from every pore but he was surprisingly nice and very forthcoming. Like most cancer deaths his end was not a pretty picture, apparently made worse by his behavior as detailed in his ex-wife's new book, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon.
Of the new reissues of his catalog, the classic is Excitable Boy with it's wax museum of dismembered, cartoon violence tunes, "Excitable Boy," "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" and the eternal, "Werewolves Of London" (best lines: "I saw at werewolf drinking a Pina Colada at Trader Vics/ His hair was perfect"). And then there's his best silly-assed upbeat tune, and perhaps his best tune of them all, "Lawyers, Guns and Money." I mean how much better is gonna get lyrically than, "Now I'm hiding in Honduras/I'm a desperate man/Send lawyers, guns and Money/The shit has hit the fan."
The weird title among the three Zevon reissues (the other being The Envoy) is Stand in the Fire his live album which was never issued on CD and only appeared briefly on LP. Yes, like all live albums there are problems with the sound of this record, so you have to go into listening to it with that already settled in your mind.
Beyond that though the album proves that unlike some of his other SoCal contemporaries, Zevon actually could do it live. The band on the record is well-drilled and brimming with talent. And unlike a lot of live records where the band basically plays everything from the studio records exactly the same way, Warren being Warren, he changes things up, particularly in the vocals. Singing very well, he changes the words repeatedly. In "Werewolves" he changes the line "I’d like to meet his tailor," to the much funnier "He’s looking for James Taylor." This record also includes "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" which it’s easy to forget, Zevon did actually write.