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CD Review - Warren Zevon's 'The Envoy'

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Artist: Warren Zevon
Album: The Envoy
Label: Rhino
re-Release Date: 03/27/2007

Three and a half years after his death, Rhino has rereleased Warren Zevon's sixth album, The Envoy. An unlikely rock and roll star, the sometime Californian and LA denizen had risen to pop status with his 1978 release, Excitable Boy, but he had experienced some major alcohol and substance abuse rollercoaster rides since that peak.

1982's The Envoy was probably his most brilliant release since Excitable Boy but it was received very poorly and Asylum Records dropped Zevon, sending him into a tailspin of alcoholism and a major stint in rehab which kept him clean for the rest of his life.

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The title track is definitely the reason to buy/listen to this album. It's based on/dedicated to Philip Habib, US special envoy to the Middle East during an Israeli/Syrian/Lebanese/Iraqi crisis that is all just too familiar. Most of the other tracks are Zevon's typical swings between melancholia and heartfelt crooning but there are some standouts. "The Hula Hula Boys" really sounds like a joke, and it is one since it is based on some lyrics written by Hunter S. Thompson. One thing that strikes you when listening to this that it is an _album_ directed towards the LP format. Side two of the record would have started with the punk-rawk-esque "Ain't That Pretty At All", a stomper that steers away from some of the synth augmented format typical of the other tracks.

The bonus tracks with this reissue are outtakes and alternate takes that are fairly unremarkable with the exception of Zevon's take of the Troggs' classic "Wild Thing" - very enjoyable, but not nearly as meaningful and heavy duty as "The Envoy."

Warren Zevon - the Envoy