Warren Zevon - Stand In The Fire
Warren Zevon (voc, g, p)
Zeke Zirngiebel (g, voc); David Landau (g); Bob Harris (synth, p, voc); Roberto Piñón (b, voc); Marty Stinger (dr)
Written by Warren Zevon (A1), Bruce Springsteen (A2), Warren Zevon (A2, A3, A4, A5, B1, B2, B3, B3, B4), LeRoy P. Marinell (A3, A5), Waddy Wachtel (A5), E. McDaniel (B5)
1 LP, standard sleeve
Original analog Master tape : YES
Heavy Press : 180g
Record color : black
Speed : 33 RPM
Size : 12'’
Record Press : Pallas
Label : Speakers Corner
Original Label : Asylum
Recording: August 1980 live at The Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood, CA., by Billy Youdelman and Greg Ladanyi
Production: Greg Ladanyi & Warren Zevon
Originally released in 1980
Reissued in 2019
Side A :
1. Stand In The Fire
2. Jeannie Needs A Shooter
3. Excitable Boy
4. Mohammed's Radio
5. Werewolves Of London
Side B :
1. Lawyers, Guns And Money
2. The Sin
3. Poor Poor Pitiful Me
4. I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
5. Bo Diddley's A Gunslinger/Bo Diddley
« After the release of Warren Zevon's fourth album, Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School, he was clean and sober for the first time in years, and on-stage he was determined to make the most of his newfound strength and self-control. While his songs long had a dark and frantic undercurrent, Zevon was now capable of playing a no-holds-barred rock show where he could bring the sharper edges of his music to the forefront. Anyone who saw Zevon on what he called "The Dog Ate the Part We Didn't Like Tour" can attest to the fact he was in superb form, playing music that rocked hard while displaying intelligence, passion, and a sharply corrosive wit, and Stand in the Fire, recorded during a five-night stand at L.A.'s Roxy near the end of the tour, captures Zevon and his band at their peak. The musicians (anchored by flashy lead guitarist David Landau) pour out these tunes with plenty of fire, and the songs rock a lot harder than anything Zevon had summoned in the studio at that point. And the artist proved he was a superb rock & roll frontman on this tour, singing with mean-spirited glee (for a change, "Werewolves of London" and "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" sound just as menacing as they were meant to be) and spewing hilarious bile at every turn (his ad-libbed "the Ayatollah has his problems, too" on "Mohammed's Radio" alone is worth the price of admission). The set list is dominated by Zevon's better-known tunes of the period, though there are two otherwise unrecorded originals (the OK title cut and the blazing "The Sin"), and a rave-up encore on "Bo Diddley's a Gunslinger" that revels in the joyous surrealism of the lyrics, and if one might have hoped for a more imaginative selection of material, these guys nail everything on deck. No one argues that Warren Zevon is a gifted singer and songwriter, but Stand in the Fire proves that, when he wants to, he can also rock with the best of 'em. » AllMusic Review by Mark Deming
« Warren Zevon forged a career of relentless hard-edged rock music, only matched by his equally reckless lifestyle. Born in Chicago, he moved to California and at one point briefly studied piano with Igor Stravinsky. But late 60’s wanderlust took over and Zevon moved to Los Angeles. There he became the band leader for a re-formed Everly Brothers. His initial success as a songwriter and recording artist proved elusive as his 1969 debut, Wanted Dead Or Alive did not chart. But in 1976, Warren Zevon (produced by Jackson Browne) provided critical acclaim, if not robust sales. Songs like the junkie lament, “Carmelita”, Americana-infused “Frank And Jesse James” and rockers like “Mohammed’s Radio” and “Desperados Under The Eaves” made him a favorite of contemporaries (Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, Browne, Glen Frey and Don Henley). Several covers by Ronstadt provided a mainstream outlet for his rocker legacy. Zevon played piano and guitar while delivering vocals with a strong baritone voice. Subsequent albums like Excitable Boy (“Werewolves Of London”, “Lawyers Guns And Money”) and Bad Luck Streak In Dancing School were relevant, but never brought sustained record sales. Additionally his “erudite sociopathy” became rooted in a self-destructive lifestyle that resulted in strained relations and long hiatuses. He collaborated with notable songwriters (Bruce Springsteen) and counterculture writers (Hunter Thompson, Carl Hiaasen). The dysfunctional contexts of his life translated into memorable songs like “The Mutineer”, “Life’ll Kill Ya”, and “Detox Mansion’. Though he would have an occasional second or third wind, broad stardom never happened. His untimely death in 2003 ended a truly unique legacy.
Speakers Corner records has released a 180-gram re-mastered vinyl of Zevon’s 1980 live album, Stand In The Fire. This album was recorded in August 1980 over a five date residency at the famed Roxy Theater. Many rock performers have meticulously crafted stage personas that differ from their real lives. Zevon is not one of them. He performed as he lived, unrestrained and at times, over-the-top. Side One opens with a new title song. The up tempo hard rocker features prominent rock guitars (with a touch of synthesizer), a catchy “call and response” first chorus, and droning coda. Zevon intones, “All I wanna do is rock you…”. Continuing to rock out, “Jennie Needs a Shooter” (from his then current album Bad Luck Streak) is co-written with Springsteen and explores working class romanticism with factory girl and outlaw references. Of course, there is some Zevon mayhem in the mix. Switching to piano, the band delivers the jaunty hooks of “Excitable Boy”. Zevon delivers malevolent imagery with jagged vocals and trademark scream. The band shines with doo-wop back up vocals and dramatic stops. There is minimal repartee from the singer. In a lyrical transition, “Mohammed’s Radio” is self-reflective and updated with topical subjects like Jimmy Carter. At the core, it is signature Zevon with rolling piano, complex lyrics and sparkling 2-part harmony at the finish. “Werewolves Of London” is a song for the ages. It is quintessential to this songwriter. The allusions to bizarre cultural touchstones like Lon Chaney, Trader Vic’s and beef chow mein are comically adroit. He refreshes the context with call outs to Jackson Browne, Brian DePalma and James Taylor in relating the story of a creature, mutilating an old lady in Soho, or Kent, or Mayfair, England. The band is tight and Zevon’s vibrato is a nice touch.
Side Two amps up the rock spirit of this live music. “Lawyers, Guns And Money” are the perfect metaphors for Zevon’s songwriting. The 3-chord anthemic bedlam is represented with crashing guitars and growling vocals. It is a gritty film noir narrative that is unique to this performer. The band sustains the hard-charging dynamics on “The Sin”. Zevon’s verve is similar to punk music. It would influence his later work. Another terrific composition, “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” may be the ultimate L.A. rock opus with weird nods to Jesse James and a waring blender. Lines like “…These young girls won’t let me be. Lord have mercy on me…” distills the essence of rock and roll lifestyle. On a seemingly autobiographical note, “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” with a thumping beat is a celebratory, not cautionary tale of excess, replete with Bombay gin, “medicine” and a 44 magnum. On this track, the band is incendiary. The finale (“Bo Diddley’s A Gunslinger/Bo Diddley”) is a two-part homage to a rock and roll pioneer“. With Zevon-esque flair, Bo Diddley appears at the O.K. Corral. The “hand jive” tempo riff is timeless and artists continue to feed off this hook to this day.
Speakers Corner Records has done their customary superior job in re-mastering Stand In The Fire to 180-gram vinyl. The stereo separation is excellent. The overall mix is clear, but still exhibits some of the rawness of live acoustics, especially with the trio of guitar players. Zevon’s deep voice is centered in the mix and is both crisp and gruff depending on the moment. In the words of Zevon “ain’t that pretty at all”, but it has a visceral resonance. The vinyl pressing from Pallas/Germany is flawless with no hisses or pops and minimal surface noise. » Robbie Gerson, Audiophile Audition, Jan 1, 2020
Warren Zevon had toured for quite some time as a songwriter in the rock scene, released a few singles and landed a flop with his debut LP in 1969 before the tide finally turned. Roughly ten years later, his live album – put together from a five-day residency at the Roxy Theater in West Hollywood – entered the annals of vinyl history as one of the best live albums of all time and was awarded four stars by the magazine Rolling Stone. Ambiguously entitled by the comprehensively educated Zevon, who had been confronted with the tough side of show business, "Stand In The Fire" delivers genial simple pure and straightforward rock right from the start, which hit the public with a vengeance.
Full of vim and elation, the band pours out the significant, biting verses with fire ("Jeannie Needs A Shooter") and fuels the emotional inferno with high-speed bursts of rock ("Excitable Boy"). Zevon proves his skills as a singer and songwriter in the ballad-like yet powerful "Mohammed’s Radio". In a direct comparison to this number we have the forthright, no-nonsense hit "Werewolves Of London" with its close harmonies. Just how Zevon manages to succeed in getting his delicate voice and lyrics over to the public is shown in the powerful mix of heavy and honky-tonk ("I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead") and finally in the thunderous final number – "Bo Didley’s A Gunslinger" – with its percussive and metrically complicated antiphony.
AllMusic : 4 / 5 , Discogs : Rate Your Music :