12 Songs, 40 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Warren Zevon always had a dark worldview. Before he was diagnosed with inoperable cancer, he seemed to sense something was bound to go wrong. His years of wild living gave him a brilliantly skewered perception of pop stardom and his version of Steve Winwood’s “Back In the High Life Again,” stripped to acoustic guitar, bass and vocals, has an added poignancy. It’s a moment of calm between the songs of inspired dementia like “I Was In the House When the House Burned Down,” “Porcelain Monkey,” “For My Next Trick I’ll Need a Volunteer” and “Hostage-O,” where Zevon sounds positively possessed as he screenwrites one more dastardly plot from Elvis Presley to his own imagined pirate past. The death songs, however, are overwhelming. The title track, “My S**t’s F****d Up” and “Don’t Let Us Get Sick” vacillate between calm, moody acceptance and deep, dark worry and black humor. It’s more lighthearted in spots and the true genius here is with the melodies that are always simple and irresistible.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Warren Zevon always had a dark worldview. Before he was diagnosed with inoperable cancer, he seemed to sense something was bound to go wrong. His years of wild living gave him a brilliantly skewered perception of pop stardom and his version of Steve Winwood’s “Back In the High Life Again,” stripped to acoustic guitar, bass and vocals, has an added poignancy. It’s a moment of calm between the songs of inspired dementia like “I Was In the House When the House Burned Down,” “Porcelain Monkey,” “For My Next Trick I’ll Need a Volunteer” and “Hostage-O,” where Zevon sounds positively possessed as he screenwrites one more dastardly plot from Elvis Presley to his own imagined pirate past. The death songs, however, are overwhelming. The title track, “My S**t’s F****d Up” and “Don’t Let Us Get Sick” vacillate between calm, moody acceptance and deep, dark worry and black humor. It’s more lighthearted in spots and the true genius here is with the melodies that are always simple and irresistible.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.7 out of 5
46 Ratings

46 Ratings

BearsDad ,

Here's to Mr. Zevon

This is an album that you set up, and let ride. It is poignant, resourceful and tragic. This is one album for which you can raise your glass, propose a silent toast, and knock back that bitter drink, while stoichly pondering the relentless rain. He could never let us go. And I dearly miss him.

JasonReeher ,

Zevon's Best LP?

As an overall concept--and yes, Life'll Kill Ya is a concept LP, if a subtle one--these mediations on death and dying are Warren Zevon at his best. Largely disposing of his earlier penchant for creating wonderfully goofy characters, these songs are only inhabited by Zevon's own haunted mind. Everything here works. The gallows humor of the title track could have been the theme song for TV's Six Feet Under, while "My S..t's..." examines the worst of medical news with charming (if foul-mouthed) resignation. Even a song about Elvis ("Porcelain Monkey") looks not at the King's triumphs but rather at his drug-ridden downfall. "I can make love disappear," Zevon muses in "For My Next Trick..." in case you're missing his point. A cover of Steve Winwood's "Back in the High Life Again" characterizes what may be Warren Zevon's best album since Excitable Boy: all wistful and fragile, but ultimately defiant even in death's looming shadow.

colbert's evil twin ,

amazing

I have been a longtime Zevon fan and, embarrassingly, only recently discovered this album. It is a brilliant and poignant album. For my money, it ranks right up there with "Warren Zevon" and "Excitable Boy" which is really saying something. Has anyone written better or funnier songs about Elvis? -- I love Bruce's "Johnny Bye Bye" which is beautiful and sad, but "Jesus Mentioned" and "Porcelain Monkey" just make you guffaw. Rest in Peace Warren

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