On the evidence of this 22-track career overview, it's tempting to call Warren Zevon's oeuvre a monument of pop-music dichotomy. But that assessment would sorely shortchange Zevon's vast catalog of contradictions: the sentimental songwriter ("Hasten Down the Wind") with a nihilistic heart of darkness who makes the likes of Jello Biafra
seem more like Raffi
by comparison; the shrewd, successful tunesmith nonetheless laboring in service of vintage psycho-whack like "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner," "Excitable Boy," and "Werewolves of London"; a man who consorted with Jackson Browne
, Linda Ronstadt
, and R.E.M.
("Boom Boom Mancini") and yet who still cheated the devil of his soul; a satirist with the keen eye of a marksman--or Randy Newman
, for that matter--who somehow let his own demise get the jump on him, despite having written prescient jollities like "Mr. Bad Example" and Life'll Kill Ya
. In short, Zevon walked it like he talked it, peril be damned. If he felt like turning in a straight-up take of the R&B chestnut "A Certain Girl," or lumbering inexplicably through Prince
's "Raspberry Beret," only then to turn on a dime and indulge his classical pretenses on "Mutineer" and "Genius," so be it. Zevon just couldn't help himself from living up to this album's modest title. --Jerry McCulley
The definitive single-CD "best-of" for rock's sardonic king! Quite a span is offered here, his best Asylum, Virgin, Giant/Reprise and Artemis cuts from 1976-2002: his hits Werewolves of London and A Certain Girl ; gems like Excitable Boy and Lawyers, Guns and Money ; his cover of Raspberry Beret with the Hindu Love Gods (with members of R.E.M.); the single mix of Reconsider Me , and 16 more!