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Excitable Boy

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Audio CD, March 27, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In an effort to honor the legendary singer/songwriter, Excitable Boy has been remastered and expanded. Originally produced in 1983, this album contains such signature hits as "Werewolf in London," "Excitable Boy," and "Lawyers, Guns and Money" as well as new liner notes by David Fricke.

It's really too bad that Warren Zevon had to die before hearing how spectacular his albums sounded in these latter-day remasters. Excitable Boy remains his best-known document, awash with blood and guts (especially on the horror-laden title track) and a famous, phenomenal touch of lycanthropy. The trick is in Zevon's ironic distance, his dispatch of killer narratives that touch on mercenary internationalism and undeserved indulgence in due course. Zevon's writing is musically simple--pianos and guitars and mid-tempo pacing--and those touches here only underscore how crisp the remastering sounds. To wit: The raucous undertow of "Lawyers, Guns, and Money" is delirious and ironically rhapsodic. As for "Werewolves of London," it's here twice (once in the expanded rack of four additional tunes) in all its tilted glory. As for the other extra content, "I Need a Truck" is the short gem, a 50-second a cappella litany of Zevon's raffish ways: "I need a truck to haul my percodan and gin" and one to "haul the womens from my bed," he sings... followed by this apt note, "I need a truck to haul my body when I'm dead." He had a mordant side. --Andrew Bartlett

1. Johnny Strikes Up The Band
2. Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner
3. Excitable Boy
4. Werewolves Of London
5. Accidentally Like A Martyr
6. Nighttime In The Switching Yard
7. Veracruz
8. Tenderness On The Block
9. Lawyers, Guns And Money
10. I Need A Truck (Outtake)
11. Werewolves Of London (Alternate version)
12. Tule's Blues (Solo Piano Version)
13. Frozen Notes (Strings Version)

Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 27, 2007)
  • Original Release Date: 1983
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rhino
  • ASIN: B000MGV9WA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,440 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By spiral_mind on November 21, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Jackson Browne once called Zevon "the first and foremost proponent of song noir," and I might as well lead off with that description since I can't think of one more simple and eloquent myself. From the late 60s to the present, WZ has developed an uncanny ability like no one else - the art of mixing oddball black humor with melodies so bright and spirited you catch yourself humming them for a week. The arguable peak of his 70s material is this album you're reading about now, Excitable Boy, and not just because everybody knows "Werewolves of London." Much of it is simple rock and roll, but to me there's always been a uniquely creative quality about everything here that keeps any of it from sounding stale or tired. Maybe it's partly because I have a thing for cool titles like "Lawyers, Guns and Money." Maybe I just can't help admiring someone who can rhyme 'word' with 'Johannesburg' and make it work. I can't explain it.. I just know that I still get a kick out of this stuff after years of listening, and Warren's recent diagnosis with terminal lung cancer has saddened me like no other bit of celebrity news in recent memory.
But anyway - back to the album. To be sure there are a couple more somber moments here: "Accidentally Like a Martyr" for example (Dylan, eat yer heart out), or the growing-up theme of "Tenderness on the Block".. and that's not even getting into the strange half-creepiness of "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" and the like. But even despite all those, it's a safe bet you've rarely heard such cynicism with such a sweet sugarcoating as you'll hear here. The title track is probably the best example; the words verge on downright disturbing, yet it's driven along with a joyfully sunny saxophone and a bright "oo-wah-oo" backup chorus. "Lawyers...
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Tim Brough VINE VOICE on March 31, 2007
Format: Audio CD
More than anyone else in the whole El Lay songwriter movement of the late seventies, Warren Zevon had absolutely no problem with getting a good laugh at the expense of the insularity of it all. And on his second proper album, he took the whole scene and turned it properly on its backside. "Excitable Boy" threw in a mix of werewolves, mercenaries, drug abusers and paranoid spoiled brats, yet while frequently offering exceptional tenderness and insight. It was easy to see why Jackson Browne was his mentor and Linda Ronstadt his patron angel.

A song as reckless as the album's title track could come from nothing less than genius. The chirpy sweet background vocals and sugary melody buoy the dark tale of a murderous high school student who kills on the night of his junior prom. "Hotel California" this most certainly wasn't. At the same time, "Accidentally Like a Martyr," with its stately piano line, encompasses the horror of a sunken love affair in barely three and a half minutes. These juxtapositions carry all the way through "Excitable Boy," with only one misstep in the CD's nine songs (the forced funk of "Nighttime In The Switching Yard").

Warren Zevon made several other great albums, but "Excitable Boy" was the moment that his youthful exuberance and a mind uncluttered by too many foreign substances produced a stunner. As a document of the California Sound that Elektra/Asylum records was known for in the seventies, this is indispensable.

The remaster is stunning. The piano to "Accidentally Like A Martyr" just leaps out of the mix (where before it seemed kind of flat). The same can be said for "Nighttime In The Switching Yard." What originally sounded compressed now sounds so much livelier. The bonus tracks are only so-so, with the alternate take of "Werewolves" being somewhat interesting and "I Need A Truck' humorous but unnecessary. What you really want here is the original album, and "Excitable Boy" is worth the remastered wait.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Lance G. Rigley on September 18, 2003
Format: Audio CD
What would you the listener put on his tombstone.."Send Lawyers Guns and Money..Here Lies An American Original,An American Songwriter".It pained me to learn of the death of Warren Zevon last week,dead from inoperable lung cancer..but the legacy he left in his collection of songs,and in particular,in this collection,makes him one of the true mavericks,one of the most interesting of performers and writers of the late 20th century.
To celebrate Warren Zevon is to understand that he produced recordings with a bent, a unique perspective on life and in this album, love and death.
The previous album,"Warren Zevon" was consistently delivered with great songs,but it was with the release of "Excitable Boy" in 1978 that he launched his career into the mainstream and scored his most commerical success with the quirky and infectiously irresistable *Werewolves of London*
From the very first listening,and with a song book that showcased the weird,the macabre,the wasted ,the historical,the romantic,the dark and the witty,this had something for everyone.
There will probably never again be a songwriter who can flipantly recount the behaviour of a seriously deranged killer,and label it as if he was just"a very naughty boy" as in the title track,and then produce the perfectly crafted and achingly poignant *Accidently Like A Martyr*.This original card carrying West Coast rocker,the thinking man's Eagles with the dark sense of humour,delivered a memorable song canvas.
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Topic From this Discussion
This edition's version of Tule's Blues vs. Preludes version
Sure you've found the answer by now, but just noticed the question.

There are two versions, Preludes version is piano only and sounds like a demo. The "Wanted Dead or Alive" is a band and fully flushed out. That and "She Quit Me" to have long been the great songs off that...
Dec 15, 2013 by Cain Knobel |  See all 2 posts
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