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REVIEW:  My Ride's Here

Track Listing:

Sacrificial Lambs (Zevon/Klein)
Basket Case (Zevon/Hiaasen)
Lord Byron's Luggage (Zevon)
Macgillycuddy's Reeks (Zevon/Muldoon)
You're a Whole Different Person When You're Scared (Zevon/Thompson)
Hit Somebody! (The Hockey Song) (Zevon/Albom)
Genius (Zevon/Klein)
Laissez-Moi Tranquille (Gainsbourg)
I Have to Leave (McFarland)
My Ride's Here (Zevon/Muldoon)

The sparse packaging gives no clue as to the album's contents, something I'm used to on a Zevon album.  But who would be able to adequately come up with a visual conception of Warren's work?  No one to date has managed to pull it off and no one's suggested a music video, either.  Which is sad, because Warren is, frankly, very sexy.  But that's that whole death and danger and damaged goods thing, and I as an impressionable Midwestern perpetually single post-teenage occasionally neurotic quasi-romantic zendik find that rather appealing.

This album follows much of the territory mentioned above to good effect.  While there is a significant amount of collaboration on the album, the strength of it is not diluted.  Warren has this habit of surrounding himself with people just as... offbeat as himself.  This is pure Zevon in Lovecraftian burlesque, and can be compared favorably with his previous album, Life'll Kill Ya.  You could compare them, but don't.  Warren is just as direct and handsomely witty in this new collection, but the music is instantly more diverse.

The highlight of this album hasn't yet been pinpointed, according to the majority of the reviews.  Everyone mentions a particular "standout" track admired in time to write something good about it.  The whole album is very well executed, and I find it delightful no one has agreed on a best song.  "Genius" is acidic and angrier than most teenage angst exercises on the radio, and winningly accentuated with the string quartet.  "Basket Case" absolutely grows on you; I catch myself singing it when I'm alone (the book is good too).  My current favorite, "Macgillycuddy's Reeks", has the most marvelous first verse since "My Shit's Fucked Up" - "She stood beside my narrow bed/To check my EKG/She shook her pretty little head/At what's become of me".  Warren is erudite as ever, throwing Zoroastrianism, the Ten Commandments and Lord Byron around with ease.  My Detroit heart leaps for joy at "Hit Somebody!", a reverent ode to the coolest sport on earth.

The only real weakness on this album is the diversity of styles.  It doesn't work as a cohesive whole, and can be hard to listen to at one time.  None of the songs are bad, but the transitions from "Macgillycuddy's Reeks" to "You're a Whole Different Person When You're Scared" and "Hit Somebody" to "Genius" are particularly jarring.  When put together as a whole, it's traditional Irish to urban rock to classic rock to neo-classical with a drum beat.  It won't bother me at all in a week.  Don't let it bother you.

The album was produced by Warren himself, his first solo production since Mutineer.  This album is much more mature than Mutineer, however, with stronger songs and a better concentration.  Mutineer had an unfinished sound to it that made it one of my least favorite Zevon albums, but this sounds confident, strident in places, intelligent and belligerent as always. 

Oh yeah, it's full of death and danger and damaged goods, too.