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Warren Zevon
Stand In The Fire: Live At The Roxy
Rhino Records

This record is one of a string of Warren Zevon re-issues being re-released by Rhino Records to celebrate one of our most obscure and gifted songwriters. Other re-releases in this series are Zevon's great Excitable Boy record and The Envoy, available for the first time ever on CD. Stand In The Fire is a recording of a live show that had been lost in the annals of rock history, available at one time only on cassette, and long since out of print. This shameful state has finally been put to rest with the CD release, finally allowing the masses to get a full dose of Warren Zevon, not only as a great songwriter, but also as a gifted and spirited live performer.

While certain aspects of the performance are a bit dated (the synthesizer licks, for instance), the performance is vivid and inspired, a true testament to Zevon as a performing musician. Backed by his long time friend and guitar player David Landau as well as the Colorado band Boulder, Zevon turns in a blazingly emotionally charged performance, more rock and roll than any of his albums ever really seemed. The night's chemistry was evident as the stage exploded in a new wave frenzy with the classic "Stand In The Fire". "Excitable Boy" drives things home with a bit quicker tempo than the album cut and a fair bit more teeth and a screaming guitar solo. "Mohammed's Radio" slows things down a bit before launching into a gritty, fiery version of "Werewolves Of London". The live charisma of Zevon really shines through on the driving "Lawyers, Guns And Money". The track list includes a few other hot numbers, including a fantastic version of "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" that rocks more than I would ever have imagined. The band seems to fall apart and then somehow pull back together for the anthemic "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" before finishing off with a great version of "Bo Diddley's A Gunslinger".

The re-issue includes four tracks not on the original cassette release, starting off with Zevon asking the audience, "What do you want to hear?" These extra tracks are amazing and essential, especially the bare and emotional "Frank And Jesse James" which carries more weight live than I would have ever imagined. Zevon's power shines through when the band drops away and he's left alone on the piano, his voice becoming hoarse from the night's use. By the time he let's loose on the incredible "Hasten Down The Wind", Zevon's voice is haggard, but the crowd is riled up and ready for more. To end on this beautiful and saddest of ballads is a tribute to Zevon, and a fitting end for a live set… or any set.

If there was ever any doubt about the performing ability of Warren Zevon, Then surely the re-release of Stand In The Fire will dispel those doubts. This recording is a requisite addition to any fan of Zevon, or perhaps a good launching point for those unfamiliar with much of his work. There are a ton of "hits" represented here, and a ton of emotion to give the songs a bit of extra weight.

-L. Keane

Track Listing:
1. Stand In The Fire
2. Jeannie Needs A Shooter
3. Excitable Boy
4. Mohammed's Radio
5. Werewolves Of London
6. Lawyers, Guns And Money
7. The Sin
8. Poor Poor Pitiful Me
9. I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
10. Bo Diddley's A Gunslinger/Bo Diddley
11. Johnny Strikes Up The Band
12. Play It All Night Long
13. Frank And Jesse James
14. Hasten Down The Wind

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