77 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get Excited! - An Outstanding Anthology
Warren Zevon's quarter-century career, now tragically cut short, is difficult to anthologize. Other than a few obvious choices, the novelty single "Wearwolves of London," the absolutely diabolical "Excitable Boy" and the hilarious "Lawyers, Guns and Money" and "Poor Poor Pitiful Me," picking out the best songs from Zevon's large body of work is not easy, especially after...
Published on December 14, 2002 by Brian D. Rubendall
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Warren Zevon was an "album rock" artist
The sad news of Warren Zevon's death breaks as I write this on September 8, 2003. Music fans wondering what he was all about may want to hear GENIUS, the most up-to-date Zevon hits collection. I have all the singer/songwriter's albums and can say that GENIUS offers many of Warren Zevon's popular tunes.
However, Warren Zevon's career flourished in its late '70s-early...
Published on September 8, 2003 by J. L LaRegina
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77 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get Excited! - An Outstanding Anthology,
This review is from: Genius: Best of Warren Zevon (Audio CD)Warren Zevon's quarter-century career, now tragically cut short, is difficult to anthologize. Other than a few obvious choices, the novelty single "Wearwolves of London," the absolutely diabolical "Excitable Boy" and the hilarious "Lawyers, Guns and Money" and "Poor Poor Pitiful Me," picking out the best songs from Zevon's large body of work is not easy, especially after the late 1970s when he was at the peak of his popularity. Underscoring that point is the fact that "Genius" contains only six duplicate tracks from the original "Best of Warren Zevon" anthology that appeared in the mid-1980s.
"Genius" is an intelligently selected single-disc best of collection that hits plenty of high points among the 22 tracks. For example, Zevon's best studio album, 1987's "Sentimental Hygene," is represented by four songs ("Detox Mansion," "Reconsider Me," "Boom Boom Mancini" and "Splendid Isolation"). Other highlights include the humorous epic "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner," Zevon's R.E.M. collaboration cover of Prince's "Raspberry Beret," a cover of "A Certain Girl" and the south-of-the-border drug saga "Carmelita." The CD booklet contains a full lyrics sheet for every song that was a Zevon original as well as a listing of the players for each track.
Overall, an outstanding single disc anthology from a unique and quirky songwriter who will be very much missed.
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bless Warren Zevon and the good people at Rhino!,
This review is from: Genius: Best of Warren Zevon (Audio CD)Being generally unfamiliar with the work of Warren Zevon -- outside of his classic late-'70s singles "Werewolves of London" and "Lawyers, Guns and Money," and Linda Ronstadt's fine covers of "Hasten Down the Wind," "Carmelita," and "Poor Poor Pitful Me" -- I was surprised to find that these aren't even the best songs on Genius, a 22-track best-of co-produced by Zevon himself and released by Rhino. Zevon is a criminally underrated singer-songwriter, and since he was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer, this retrospective makes for a well-timed and appropriate farewell. (I must also mention the all-too-brief liner notes, which are not so much biography or even career overview, but the measure of an artist's great personal impact on a pair of fans. Droll and affectionate, but never maudlin, you couldn't ask for a more fitting tribute.)
The whole thing is jam-packed with terrific songs, alternately rousing and beautiful, funny and heartbreaking. "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" is a haunting tale of murder and revenge, while "Excitable Boy" is a comical tale of murder that takes aim at society's "boys will be boys" mentality. The celebrity-rehab ode "Detox Mansion" straddles a thin line between cheekiness ("I've been raking leaves with Liza / Me and Liz clean up the yard") and confession ("Well, it's tough to be somebody, and it's hard not to fall apart"). In "Splendid Isolation," he longs for solitude (looking to Georgia O'Keefe and Michael Jackson as role models), while in "Reconsider Me" and "Searching for a Heart," he yearns for a human connection. "I Was in the House When the House Burned Down" is the lament of a hapless loser (a sequel of sorts to "Lawyers, Guns and Money," maybe?), while "Mr. Bad Example" -- possibly my favorite track -- is a wickedly funny story-song about the self-indulgence and "dirty deals" of an unrepentant, irredeemable scoundrel ("I'm Mr. Bad Example, take a look at me / I'll live to be a hundred and go down in infamy!").
Musically, Zevon can rock the house as much as anybody (escpecially on "Detox Mansion," a cover of Prince's "Raspberry Beret," and an ode to the boxer "Boom Boom" Mancini -- all three of which he performs with Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Bill Berry of R.E.M.), but he can also startle you with gorgeous ballads like "The French Inhaler," "Hasten Down the Wind," and "Mutineer." The vitality of his latest work is summed up in just two tracks, 2000's jangly "I Was in the House..." and 2002's moody "Genius" ("Albert Einstein was a ladies' man / While he was working on his universal plan / He was making out like Charlie Sheen"), but I don't think that Zevon or the generally reliable folks at Rhino could have done a better job of picking out the cream of the crop. Smartly written and catchy as hell, the songs on Genius rank with the best of Randy Newman, who, like Zevon, is also blessed with a strong sense of both melody and humor. (Speaking of which, Rhino's 2001 compilation The Best Of Randy Newman makes for a swell companion disc to this one, but that's another review.)
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine Look At Great Singer/Songwriters Career,
This review is from: Genius: Best of Warren Zevon (Audio CD)This 22 track collection covers all of Zevon's albums (save for 2 live albums and 2 previous compilations). It even includes his one-off project with R.E.M. minus Michael Stipe on the Prince cover "Raspberry Beret." There are brief (but not great) liner notes. The notes fail to tell the story of Zevon's career. Lyrics to each song are included, as are album/song/musician info for each song. The CD was co-compiled by Zevon. If you're new to Zevon this makes a better choice than the excellent 2CD I'll Sleep When I'm Dead from 1996. But long-time fans will find it a handy sampler of some of Zevon's best moments. Let me also recommend these studio albums: Warren Zevon (76), Excitable Boy (78), Sentimental Hygiene (87), Life'll Kill Ya (2000) and My Ride's Here (2002). Also be on the lookout for the live 1980 album Stand In The Fire.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's great, but...,
This review is from: Genius: Best of Warren Zevon (Audio CD)This is a lovely one CD anthology. I would, however, recommend "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead," the 2 CD anthology, and then just buy "My Ride's Here" and "The Wind." I'm so glad he graced this sphere for a while.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every Song Is A Classic!,
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This review is from: Genius: Best of Warren Zevon (Audio CD)"Genius: The Best Of Warren Zevon" is the definitive, single-disc compilation of Warren Zevon's music, spanning his entire career to date. "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" kicks off the collection on a strong note, detailing the abuse he took at the hands of dominating women. "Carmelita" is a beautiful ballad dealing with the ugly subject of heroin addiction. This compilation provides ample proof that Warren wrote many classic songs in addition to "Werewolves Of London," his best known song. "A Certain Girl" has always been one of my favorites, even though the song wasn't written by Warren. It appears on a Warren Zevon compilation for the first time. "Raspberry Beret" is a rocking cover version of the Prince song, performed in classic Zevon style. "Detox Mansion" takes a tongue in cheek approach to describing his treatment for alcoholism. "Well, I'm gone to Detox Mansion way down on Last Breath Farm. I've been raking leaves with Liza. Me and Liz clean up the yard." Warren could write heartfelt love songs, as evidenced by "Looking For The Next Best Thing," Reconsider Me" and "Searching For A Heart." In "Mr. Bad Example" Warren describes the virtues of indulging in the seven deadly sins. "I Was In The House When The House Burned Down" finds Warren at his sardonic best, sounding like a cross between Bob Dylan and Hunter S. Thompson. The last song on this compilation describes Warren Zevon's songwriting best - "Genius."
For the record, the following is the collection's list of songs, followed by their year of release.
POOR POOR PITIFUL ME (1976)
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius is right!,
This review is from: Genius: Best of Warren Zevon (Audio CD)This is a great collection of WZ's work, all the best spanning his long career. Zevon is one of the best songwriter's to grace us with his music. Any fan of WZ or those who are interested in his work should own this collection. From the opening Poor Poor Pitiful Me to Genius from his last studio album and everywhere in between.
I was a late comer to the party, but late is better than never. Genius aptly descibes the skill with which he weaves words into the stories and songs.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Apt Title for an American Original,
This review is from: Genius: Best of Warren Zevon (Audio CD)Like John Prine, Randy Newman and Bob Dylan, Warren Zevon understood the literary aspects of songwriting. His characters inhabited his songs, and he gave them life. I am a richer person, thanks to "Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner," "Mr. Bad Example," "The Mutineer," and the staff of "Detox Mansion." Zevon could be so many people in the course of one album that it is probably unlikely we will ever know exactly who the real WZ was. Not like that is a bad thing. There are so few writers that could deliver the morbid hilarity of "Excitable Boy" and the deep introspection of "Reconsider Me" in the arc of their careers, then have the presence to play songs that rocked harder than most of his peers live. (I witnessed him making hash out of a piano on the tour for "The Envoy," and that was Solo!)
I have also been amazed that Zevon surrounded himself with so many talents that suited his music so perfectly. When he hooked up with kindred spirits R.E.M. for "Sentimental Hygiene," they were not megastars, but basically they were the coolest band on the planet. He was back on his way into the limelight, and they meshed perfectly. Just listen to the muscle they gave him for "Boom Boom Mancini" and "Raspberry Beret." (Never has Prince sounded so good!)
Yet even with the muscle, his heart was huge. "Hasten Down The Wind" has got to be one of the hardest songs about heartbreak ever written, and even the latter day material ("Mutineer," "Searching For a Heart") cut through the dark facade presented by "Play It All Night Long." I would suggest this CD as a primer, then move on to "Excitable Boy," "Sentimental Hygiene," and the wonderful parting gift of "The Wind." We don't often see the likes of artists of Warren Zevon's stature, and "Genius" only taps into the wealth of his songs.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School,
This review is from: Genius: Best of Warren Zevon (Audio CD)The title of his third album says it all. Zevon is one of America's treasures and an underappreciated artist. He's known primarily for the novelty song Werewolves of London. It's paid for much and helped him reach a larger audience so I'm sure Zevon isn't bitter. The sad news that Warren is terminally ill makes this compilation all the more powerful. Warren's music always focused on the dark side of life and the underdog. Well, it was appropriate as Warren himself became submerged in the dark side of life and was/is the perpetual underdog.
He's written so many classic songs that I've begun to lose count. If you've never seen Warren live try to find his album Stand in the Fire (which is out of print and has never been on CD in the US). He's pretty amazing as a live act (I caught him in 1980 in San Francisco at the Old Waldorf which doesn't exist anymore).
Hopefully, Rhino will reissue this fine album in the wake of this fine compilation. As with all of Rhino's later compilations, the sound quality is terrific and the selection of material very strong. You could also opt for the 2 disc set that Rhino put out a couple of years ago. That's pretty comprehensive and has a number of rare/unreleased tracks.
Oh, and I personally think that Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School is his most underrated album. It's available on CD with great sound (although no bonus tracks) and includes his terrific cover of The Yardbirds' A Certain Girl. I'd also recommend picking up Life'll Kill Ya, My Ride's Here, Transverse City, Sentimental Hygene, Warren Zevon and Excitable Boy. Any of these fine albums are a great place to start discovering Warren's unique view on life and death. I'll say a prayer for ya Warren!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine collection from an irreplaceable artist,
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This review is from: Genius: Best of Warren Zevon (Audio CD)Zevon fans can argue about the selection of these cuts on what at least for now is the final "best-of" collection from this unique singer-song writer, who announced in the fall of 2002 that he has terminal cancer. Then, he supposedly had only a couple of months to live. Now, it's almost a year later, and he's still with us. He's even come out with one more album, "The Wind," not represented on this collection. His fans all owe him thanks for that, and greater thanks for all the great material he gave us across the span of his career.
This disc represents that material well. It won't perfectly please everybody. Myself, I'd like to see more from "Transverse City." But I'm glad that "Mr. Bad Example" is represented by the three pieces from 1991. It was one of his strongest efforts but has been neglected (and may now be out of print).
This disc has Zevon the would-be sociopath ("Mr. Bad Example"); the ironic rocker ("Detox Mansion" and others); the straight-ahead rocker doing some classic material ("A Certain Girl"); and the tender but never saccharine balladeer ("Searching for a Heart" and others).
I have most, not all, the discs that the material here came from, but am glad to have this collection to play, too. I suppose I could burn a CD with my own favorites, but I don't for a moment begrudge Zevon and his family (or Rhino Records) the price of the collection. It's a fine reminder of all the unique music that Warren Zevon gave us over the last 2 1/2-plus decades, in his recordings and live performances. I can only say, again, thank you, and add that this irreplaceable artist will be deeply missed.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy This just for Mutineer,
This review is from: Genius: Best of Warren Zevon (Audio CD)If you've never heard Warren Zevon's Mutineer you're in for a real treat. Beautiful song. Much better than the good cover by Bob Dylan on the Enjoy Every Sandwich tribute album.
Great collection. Zevon shows his genius by making the music match the lyrics. In Mutineer listen closely to the percussion to see how he makes it simulate the pitch and yaw of a boat on the ocean. Also the seagull squaks are perfectly placed.
At the end of Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner, listen for the simulation of a machine gun burst at the end. The man was greatly talented! And this collection displays it.
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