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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 2003
This 1991 disc was unavailable for years. It's great to see that it's come back.
This has to be one of the strongest efforts across the span of Zevon's career (and it's unbearably sad that after The Wind, we won't be hearing his unique voice - as vocalist or songwriter - again). Everything that defined Zevon's greatness is here.
I agree that Finishing Touches is a terrific song (though some of the lyrics are un-airable). The assortment of personas that Zevon assumed in his songs was unmatched, and a good sample of them are here. There's the cheerful sociopath of the title song, sung to an upbeat, bouncy tune ("I opened up an agency somewhere down the line/ To hire aboriginals to work the opal mines/ But I attached their wages and took a whopping cut/ And whisked away their workman's comp and pauperized the lot.... I'm thinking of retiring from all my dirty deals/ See you in the next life, wake me up for meals.") There's the upstanding but despairing suburban dad in Model Citizen, the one with the Craftsman lathe in the basement and a head swarming with other dark thoughts ("When I feel the pressure/ And I need a break/ Load up the Winnebago/ Drive it in the lake.") And there are more.
One of Zevon's trademarks has been the phantasmagoric and apocalyptic hard rock number, and that's represented here in Quite Ugly One Morning. ("Quite ugly one morning/ We all said goodnight/ It came without a warning /Just a flash of light.")
And then there are two really first-rate softer and gentler songs, one the country-tinged Heartache Spoken Here (with Dwight Yoakam), and then Searching for a Heart, which is as fine a pop or rock song of the type as anyone has ever written or sung. Really.
If you know and like Zevon but don't have this disc, get it. If you don't know Zevon's music, one of those best-of collections is of course fine (the recent Genius is a good choice), but you also would do well to start out here. Everything that has made Zevon's music uniquely his own is on this disc.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2005
As the first bars of the somewhat uncharacteristically heavy riff of "Finishing Touches" fill your ears, you know that you are going to have 45 minutes or so of thrills and maybe the odd surprise. The opening track continues to grow verse by verse, chorus by chorus with one of Waddy Wachtel's trade-mark guitar solos punctuating the musical melee with power and panache.

Zevon's vocal is of course perfect in tone and in delivery of the familiarly bitter lyric.

"Suzi Lightning" comes next. A beautiful pop ballad with a less than sunny lyric,it is a deseptivaly dark song

"Model Citizen" is a song that seems to have been written by a man on the very edge of madness. The thought of a man showing his children a lathe infering a threat when they have been naughty is sinister in the extreme. Another example of the genius of WZ.

Next we are taken to the seedy side of Mr Zevon's LA with "Angel dressed in black". As he talks of sitting smoking crack you can almost smell the damp and filth in whatever hellhole the scene is set. Musically it is rememisent of early 1980's new-wave with Waddy Wachtel's production spinning a strange but effective web of sound regularly opening out into the catchy pop chorus. A delight, all be it a frustrating one.

So, to the title track. "Mr Bad Example" is to all intents and purposes a masterpiece. The wit and humour of the lyric are unsurpassed in modern popular music and it is a rare joy to hear two of the world's finest drummers, Jim Keltner and the late Jeff Porcaro, playing so intricately on such an up tempo yet strangely subtle track.

Next is the beautiful "Renegade". Soft,sweet yet, once again very bitter. A song of sadness and of lost dreams. I must admit though I find it strange that a man born in Chicago and raised in LA should have such an affinity with the Confederacy.

"Heartache Spoken Here" is a great country song especially from a writer not usually known for country music. It seems to me very much a song from a Father to his teenage Daughter telling her to come to him when she needs comfort when her fledgling love life goes awry. More fine guitar work keeps the feel, so its all good fun.

"Quite Ugly One Morning" is one of the more unusual tracks on the album with David Lindley going mad with his Saz and Cumbus, not to mention his Lap-steel guitar. Its a powerful song with a strong riff carrying it forward. And although the lyric is truely poetic it is also as crazy as a bird indoors.

"Things to do in Denver when Your Dead" is another fine piece of music with a smooth soulful feel. Jim Keltners drumming Pushing things along solidly and with the rest of the band sweeping along behind Zevons magical vocal.

Finaly "Searching For a Heart" a true pop song. David Letterman's favourite description of love is contained in the lyric. "You can't start it like a car, You cant stop it with a gun".

All in all this is one of my favourite WZ albums along with Life'll kill Ya and The Wind. It's a fine piece of work and I highly recomend it to both fans of the late great Warren Zevon and those looking for something new to listen to.

Tom Fardon..........
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2003
This is one of WZ's most overlooked albums. "Suzie Lightning" shows what an underrated balladeer he is, but for my money the couplet in Model Citizen is worth the price of admission: "Down in the basement, got a Craftsman lathe; Show it to the children, when they misbehave." Not advice we'd hear from Drs. Phil or Laura. But Dr. Zevon? Oh yes. And there's much more. We'll miss you Doc.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2003
now that we know warren is soon to leave us, i feel compelled, as an obsessed wz fan, to tell like i hear it. this is one of the best albums of all time. it has all the zevon traits i love. wit, humor, sarcasm, lost love. there is a bitterness (regret) and a tenderness (hope) that few songwriters ever achieve. next in line is 'mutineer' and 'life'll kill ya'. i can't belive he'll be gone soon. i look forward to 'the wind', already in the can. take care warren and see you in the next life...and don't be late.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2005
This is a much darker album from Zevon. Generally his subject matter is fairly dark anyway, but here he gets a little nasty. It's nice. The caustic 'Finishing Touches' and the placid anger in 'Model Citizen' set the tone, and the beautiful 'Searching for a Heart' ironically ends the album. Its subject is looking for love in all the wrong places, thinking of it in all the wrong ways - "you can't start it like a car, you can't stop it with a gun." This song encapsulates the whole theme and feel of the album: dysfunctional people, bad examples.

For such a popular artist, it mystifies me why there's four Zevon CDs that are out of print. By a freak of nature my half-brother had this in his collection, and I couldn't believe my luck.

Why can't there be a re-release of 'The Envoy', 'Stand in the Fire', 'Mr. Bad Example' and 'Hindu Love Gods'? There's definitely a market for them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2006
One of Zevon's strongest efforts. The standout track here is "Suzie Lightning," which is one of the most perfect ballads ever written. Its subject matter is simple enough, and it rarely rhymes. This is to Zevon's credit, because it captures completely the confusion and sorrow that occurs when a lover's professional ambition and his or her love life come into conflict.

Beyond that, there's a lot more darkness, but it's lightened by some of Zevon's best-ever humor and ultimate romanticism. This is an album for those who want to see the black, the white, and above all the gray.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2003
How can an album of this calibre be OOP?
Maybe if the record industry focused on putting its own house in order instead of blaming its customers.......
Anyway, this is pretty much the perfect Warren Zevon album and it's my personal favourite. The material is top notch throughout with some of Warren's best & most neglected songs. Try "Angel Dressed in Black" and "Suzie Lightning" for size. Then there's also "Renegade" which just about sums Warren up.
I generally don't get the time to write reviews, but with so many people now considering Warren for the first time - don't miss this gem!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2011
I am a huge fan of Warren Zevon, so I'm pretty biased about Mr Bad Example. However, a good majority of the songs here are classics. It starts off with a bitter diatribe "Finishing Touches", then moves into the gorgoeus "Suzie Lightning", with a great synth keyboard sound. "Model Citizen" is full of irony and sarcasm. Then we have "Angel Dressed In Black", probably my least favourite song on the album. "Mr Bad Example" is also full of irony and wit, it's also a very catchy ditty. "Renegade" is Zevon playing it straight, as is the earnest "Heartache Spoken Here", a country duet with Dwight Yoakam. "Quite Ugly One Morning" is a darker track, and "Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead" is also a little dark, but with Zevon's trademark humour. My favourite track on the whole album is left until last. "Searching For A Heart" is Zevon playing it as straight as they come, a serious track waxing philosophical about the difficulties and challenges of love. It's interesting that some of Warren Zevon's best songs were of a more serious tone, given his penchant for irony and sardonic humour. In light of his passing, much of his music seems to have a theme of enjoying life while it lasts, there is a sense of mortality and limited time running through his work. I feel a bit emotional listening to his work, as if the ghost of Zevon is in the music. He passed away far too young, but left a superb legacy of great art. Sad that many people haven't heard of him apart from "Werewolves of London", because his work easily stands comparison with other sharp witted singer songwriters like Randy Newman and Elvis Costello. So give it a listen if you like real music with depth and substance, I never tire of him.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 1998
Among Mr Zevon's albums, this is among the worst reviewed, and there is absolutely no founding for this. Ironic as it sounds, the culture he comments on is the same one that buys his records. Warren rocks. Period. He never rocked harder than here.
The opening song, Finishing Touches, is Zevon a la bitter breakup, fleshed out with the most solid backing band he's had in ages. The single version was atrociously edited; the album version gives the song life.
The next few songs are softer but no less uniquely Zevon - again with the solid guitar work by Waddy Wachtel (who also produced the album) and the dark lyrics that are part and parcel of any Zevon album.
Then that lovely title track - according to Mr Zevon, it was written whilst drinking Turkish coffee. A polka. It's the Warren he would have been had he not had a talent for music.
After two more rebellious ballads (an oxymoron if he were anyone else), the Indian-themed Quite Ugly One Morning, Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead (slightly Dylanesque and thoroughly enjoyable) and Searching for a Heart make for one of the best endings to any record.
Get it. It's good. It rocks hard and never apologises for stepping on anyone's toes.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2001
Mr. Bad Example ushers Warren Zevon into the nineties. This release seemed to go unnoticed by mostly everyone (including true Zevon fans if I'm only the third person to review it). Warren has never sounded better on cuts like Quite Ugly One Morning, Finishing Touches and the title cut, Mr. Bad Example. Heck, Warren even turns country on Heartache Spoken Here (with the help of country crooner Dwight Yoakam). This is a solid Zevon release. Everything you like about him is on this album:
great musicianship, humor and irony oozes from most cuts, lyrical brilliance and good production values. It's easy to let great releases slip through the cracks sometimes, but go the extra mile and give this early nineties Zevon a try. Once you've listened to Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead, you'll find yourself bored with most music you hear out today. Rock on Warren!
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