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I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: Anthology

4.8 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 17, 1996
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This definitive 42-song retrospective features Warren Zevon's most dangerous songs, including "Werewolves of London" and "Lawyers, Guns and Money" as well as the previously unreleased "You Don't Know What Love Is" and "If You Won't Leave Me I'll Find Someone Who Will."
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Media Type: CD
Street Release Date: 09/17/1996

Released nearly a decade after Zevon's first best-of (A Quiet Normal Life), I'll Sleep When I'm Dead provides a more comprehensive overview of the off-center California songsmith's fitful career. The first disc of the 44-song, two-CD set nearly duplicates the earlier retrospective, dropping only one song ("Ain't That Pretty at All") and tossing in the likes of "Hasten Down the Wind," "Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School," and live versions of "Mohammed's Radio" and "Jeannie Needs a Shooter" from Zevon's early, most popular period. Disc two cherry-picks highlights from the artist's more problematic but periodically inspired late '1980s and '90s recordings, tossing in such oddities as the Hindu Love Gods' spirited remake of Prince's "Raspberry Beret" (HLG is Zevon backed by the instrumentalists from R.E.M.) and live takes of "The French Inhaler" and "The Indifference of Heaven." Thorough and smartly sequenced, Sleep provides the uninitiated an intro into the work of a true original and adds enough mislaid gems to please steadfast followers. --Steven Stolder

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Frank and Jesse James
  2. Hasten Down the Wind
  3. Poor, Poor Pitiful Me
  4. I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
  5. Carmelita
  6. Desperados Under the Eaves
  7. Johnny Strikes up the Band
  8. Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner
  9. Excitable Boy
  10. Werewolves of London
  11. Accidentally Like a Martyr
  12. Lawyers, Guns and Money
  13. Frozen Notes
  14. Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School
  15. Gorilla, You're a Desperado
  16. Play It All Night Long
  17. Mohammed's Radio [Live]
  18. Jeannie Needs a Shooter [Live]
  19. The Envoy
  20. The Hula Hula Boys
  21. Let Nothing Come Between You
  22. Looking for the Next Best Thing

Disc: 2

  1. Sentimental Hygiene
  2. Boom Boom Mancini
  3. Detox Mansion
  4. Bad Karma
  5. Reconsider Me [Single Version]
  6. Run Straight Down
  7. The Long Arm of the Law
  8. Splendid Isolation
  9. You Don't Know What Love Is
  10. Raspberry Beret
  11. Suzie Lightning
  12. Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead
  13. Searching for a Heart
  14. Mr. Bad Example
  15. Roll with the Punches
  16. The French Inhaler [Live]
  17. The Indifference of Heaven [Live]
  18. If You Won't Leave Me I'll Find Somebody Who Will
  19. Real or Not
  20. Seminole Bingo
  21. Monkey Wash Donkey Rinse
  22. Mutineer

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 17, 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Elektra / Wea
  • ASIN: B000003479
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,127 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By mirasreviews HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 13, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I'm not familiar with Warren Zevon's studio albums, so I can't say if "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead " has omitted anything essential, but what's here is terrific. This anthology includes 44 songs originally released 1976-1996, representing 12 studio albums plus 4 previously unreleased tracks -3 songs from soundtracks and a previously unreleased version of "Frozen Notes". Zevon's last 3 albums are not represented, as they were recorded later. There are twice as many songs in "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" than in 2002's "Genius: The Best of Warren Zevon", although that album includes 3 tracks that this one doesn't. Bruce Springsteen called Warren Zevon a "moralist in cynic's clothing". Jackson Browne described him as "the first and foremost proponent of song noir". That's a catchy, although vague, way of putting it, but Zevon does approach his themes with a sardonic, fatalistic eye, always personal and introverted, that distinguishes his work. Zevon's lyrics tend toward narrative, are frank and thoughtful, usually unsentimental, though somehow intensely empathetic, with a touch of dark humor and a sharp edge. This anthology of Zevon's great songs and gravelly voice is simply a pleasure.

Disc 1 features 22 songs (1 hour, 15 minutes) from the "Asylum Era", originally recorded 1976-1982. It begins with the folk song "Frank and Jesse James" and moves onto love songs, hard rock, and lighthearted fun. Hits include "Werewolves of London", "Poor Poor Pitiful Me", and "Lawyers, Guns, and Money". "Accidentally Like a Martyr" is a particularly melancholic and moving love song. "The Envoy" and "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" are overtly political but, as always, express their ideas through characters. "Mohammed's Radio" and "Jeanne Needs a Shooter" are live versions.
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Format: Audio CD
This two disc set from Rhino records is a very well done, and comprehensive collection of Warren Zevon's material. It only covers from 1976 to 1995, but still, it highlights the wide scope of what he could do. I say incomplete as his last three recordings are not represented, but digesting this anthology should give ample reason to pick those said albums up.
If there is any reason to wonder what all the fuss is about, listen to songs such as Frank and Jesse James, Hasten Down The Wind, Accidently Like A Martyr, Desperadoes Under The Eaves, Mutineer, the rocking cover of Raspberry Beret which has a tendency to linger as does the title song, Boom Boom Mancini, The Indifference of Heaven, and so forth. Of course there is the well known Werewolves of London, and the lesser known but awesome Excitable Boy and the soldier epic Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner (eat your heart out Gordon Lightfoot). The rarities and soundtrack items are a pretty good bonus, and fill in some gaps previously unavailable. The benefit also with this package is the fact that all lyrics are included, as well as a listing of who played on each track, some neat photos and that Warren himself commented on each track in the collection. Cool stuff and highly recommended.
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Format: Audio CD
From your first listen this amazing compilation will bring tears to your eyes both from sadness and from laughter. This is an artist that defies labeling. A man confident enough to buck the establishment and go his own, lonely way. His brillant songwriting abilities coupled with an eye for the wonderous and absurb make for true genius. In a world sorely in need of his kind it saddens me to know that his days are now numbered from the cancer ravaging his body. As a high school dropout he has since learned to speak multiple languages, taught himself to play numerous instruments, writes and conducts his own string arrangements; all this and still remain true to himself.
If you are tired of listening to the meaningless noise of today's so-called 'music' and you really are beginning to wonder if there is anyone 'out there' who matters look no further than Warren Zevon. But look fast before he is gone.
Like someone else said before me: if you've read this far you know you want to buy this so get on with it! And like Warren said to David Letterman, make sure to "Enjoy every sandwich" while you still can. Thanks for the ride Warren, you'll be sorely missed.
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Format: Audio CD
This is an awesome collection of his 44 best songs. It also comes with a 50 page booklet. The first 14 pages are hilarious quotes about Zevon like "I'm no linguist, but I believe Warren Zevon may be the only man in the history of human communication to use the word brucellosis in a song" - David Letterman.

In the next section, Zevon discuses the background of every single song. It makes for an interesting and fun read. And what an incredible list of musicians in this collection. In addition to regulars like Waddy Wachtel, David Lindley, & Russ Kunkel he's had Jackson Browne, Phil Everly, Bobby Keyes, Lindsey Buckingham, Glenn Frey, Carl Wilson, J.D. Souther, Linda Ronstadt, Jennifer Warnes, John McVie, Don Henley, Karla Bonoff, Mick Fleetwood, Jeff Porcaro, Jim Horn, Steve Lukather, Graham Nash, Neil Young, REM, Roy Bittan, Benmont Tench, Mike Campbell, Tony Levin, David Gilmour (what a solo!), Richie Hayward, Chick Corea (sounding great!), Mark Isham, Larry Klein and Bruce Hornsby. Do your ears a favor and buy this. Brought to you with love from Rhino Records!
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