Life at 33 1/3: Fireworks of steel

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Warren Zevon: “Stand In The Fire” (Asylum)

*From the vaults of Carl Meyer, a record review written in February 1981.*

The traditional California-rock (Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, etc.) is a sinking ship these days.  But there’s  a desperado on the decks of the Titanic, and he’s got no intentions of going down with the ship.  Don’t be fooled by his blonde, delicate, almost feminine  looks.  Warren Zevon spells danger.  The rock’n’roll urgency shoots through his veins, and he’s heavily armed with with an attitude more deadly than a pair of blasting sixguns.  His voice is a rugged trench of gravel and gunsmoke, so masculine and virile that you automatically back off.  And he is possessed with the Americana that was introduced to us via hardboiled detective stories back in the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s.

On “Stand In The Fire” Warren goes (monu)mental.  It is one of the most intense live-albums you’ll ever hear, the heat almost unbearable as his band catches fire and sparks start flying.  Crashing, crisp guitars, pumping keyboards and a brutal rhythm section, they roar ahead, slamming into the curves.  It is towering, it is powerful, it is fireworks of steel.  Zevon’s raw slab of a voice is in complete control, delivering stories from the darker sides of life with anger and painful desperation.

So this is California-rock too: A crackling, curvaceous inferno of anxiety and anger; tough as an aging heavyweight champion, hot as an emptied revolver and bloodthirsty as a werewolf (of London).

Released: December 26, 1980

Produced by: Warren Zevom & Greg Ladanyi

(All songs written by Warren Zevon unless otherwise indicated)

Contents: Stand in the Fire/Jeannie Needs a Shooter (Springsteen/Zevon)/Excitable Boy (Marinell, Zevon)/Mohammed’s Radio/Werewolves of London (Marinell/Wachtel/Zevon)/Lawyers, Guns and Money/The Sin/Poor Poor Pitiful Me/I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead/Bo Diddley’s a Gunslinger & Bo Diddley (Diddley)

Personnel:

Warren Zevon – bass, guitar, piano, keyboards, vocals, 12 string guitar

David Landau – guitar

Zeke Zirngiebel – guitar, electric guitar, rhythm guitar, steel guitar, vocals, 12 string guitar

Bob Harris – synthesizer, piano, keyboards, backing vocals

Roberto Piñón – bass, backing vocals

Marty Stinger – drums