Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Zevon's Dream: To Work in Isolation

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Zevon's Dream: To Work in Isolation

Article excerpt

"MUTINEER"Warren Zevon (Giant) Warren Zevon (Giant)

Take one of the most acerbic songwriters of the past two decades, then keep him pretty much isolated to ponder his paranoia while he records a new album.

For Warren Zevon, it's the ideal work environment.

The revered and reviled "Excitable Boy" from the '70s has had his ups and his downs since his early breakthrough hits like "Werewolves of London." But Zevon's sparse and self-produced "Mutineer," recorded at his home studio, contains some of his most pointed and provocative work in years.

While at times conciliatory, the disc is frequently dark and threatening, summed up neatly in the lines "Don't knock on my door unless you know my Rottweiler's name." The song, "Rottweiler Blues," penned with the singer's fishing partner and Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen, is destined to go down as a Zevon classic.

It's not the only memorable track here. From the troubled tale of a tragic junk-bond king ("Seminole Bingo") that opens the disc, to the introspective title track that closes it, "Mutineer" is a consistently engaging effort. Zevon's take-no-prisoners approach leaves few souls spared, even some of his pop-star acquaintances. In "The Indifference of Heaven," he sings:

They tell us these are the good times

But they don't live around here

Billy and Christie don't

And Bruce and Patti don't

They don't live around here.

"I was born to rock the boat," he later sings, and indeed such irreverent and uncompromising references to the Joels and Springsteens of the world may get Zevon into trouble. But don't count on him to worry about it. It wouldn't suit his style and that just partly explains his twisted appeal.

Besides such scathing fare, "Mutineer" also reveals a borderline sentimental side to the singer, most notably during the late-night, jazz-tinged "Similar to Rain."

Working primarily on his own definitely sharpened his approach, but Zevon did bring in a few guest artists. Stringman supreme David Lindley is among them, while keyboardist Bruce Hornsby played accordion on two cuts. Kevin O'Hare, Newhouse News Service

***** "JOE COOL'S BLUES" Wynton Marsalis and Ellis Marsalis (Columbia)

Give Wynton Marsalis an E for esprit for choosing the music of Charlie Brown to unwind and clear the spit of studiousness from his trumpet. Give him an E-plus for bringing his father along for the ride.

A master of trumpet technique whose prodigious output over the last decade includes some brilliant playing and compositions, Marsalis sometimes takes his tie-and-tails treatment of jazz too seriously. …

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