WARREN ZEVON – ” Stand in the Fire ” Classic Live Albums

Posted: December 29, 2016 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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For much of his career, Warren Zevon particular brand of genius relied on A-list Los Angeles session pros and friends like Jackson Browne Linda Rondstadt and Neil Young to help out on his records. But for his first live album, 1980’s “Stand in the Fire”, he called in a group comprised mostly of comparative amateurs.

He enlisted Boulder, a Colorado bar band that had been signed to Zevon’s record label, Elektra Records, and whose debut included a cover of his “Join Me in L.A.” Boulder—who already did some of his songs. After auditioning them solely by running them through Chuck Berry’s classic “Johnny B. Goode,” Zevon hired them and brought along studio ace David Landau to play lead guitar. They then hit the road together for the Dog Ate the Part We Didn’t Like tour.

Image result for WARREN ZEVON tour.poster roxy theatre

Released on December. 26th, 1980, Stand in the Fire was culled from performances recorded during a multi-night stand at Los Angeles’ Roxy in West Hollywood. It’s the most full-blooded rock ‘n’ roll Zevon ever released fully capturing the bar-band flavor of the performances, with two strong new songs “Stand In The Fire” and “The Sin” joining Zevon’s mix of sentimental and sardonic tunes . His earlier albums — great as they are — suffer from the genteel production techniques of the day, but he’s positively unleashed here. The whole thing threatens to come apart on a few occasions, but Zevon manages to hold it all together. “Excitable Boy, Werewolves Of London”  with an aside about Brian DePalma, and a powerful version of “Mohammed Radio”. It helps that he’s egged on by Boulder, who bring out the savage wit of such Zevon favorites as “Excitable Boy,” “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” and, especially, “Lawyers, Guns and Money.” with a rewritten verse to reflect the Iranian hostage situation — is particularly powerful, and “Jeannie Needs a Shooter” and “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” are beautifully bludgeoned within an inch of their lives.

 Must-hear tracks are the medley of Bo Diddleys A Gunslinger and Bo Diddley , which closed the original vinyl version, let Zevon get downright guttural in his homage to a rock ‘n’ roll hero.

Zevon throws no small degree of spontaneity into the equation. He ad libs some new lyrics in “Werewolves of London” to take jabs at friends (“And he’s looking for James Taylor,” “I saw Jackson Browne walking slow down the avenue / You know, his heart is perfect”) and, at the end of “Poor Poor Pitiful Me,” calls out his road manager and best friend George “Gorilla” Gruel: “Gorilla, get up and dance. Get up and dance or I’ll kill you. And I got the means!”

Despite its standing among Zevon fans, Stand in the Fire wasn’t released on CD when the rest of his catalog hit the format. Instead, it was delayed until 2007. But it was worth the wait: Four additional songs from the shows (“Johnny Strikes Up the Band,” “Play It All Night Long” and solo piano renditions of “Frank and Jesse James” and “Hasten Down the Wind”) were added to the mix.

The album was originally dedicated to Martin Scorsese, and it’s a bit ironic considering the live record basically disappeared but around half a decade later Scorsese’s use of the original studio version of “Werewolves of London” in The Color of Money (one of the masters all-time great music in film moments) added some needed bite to Zevon’s name .

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