My favorite 100 albums of all time: #28 ("The Wind")

"The Wind" album coverBeing a rock critic sounds like a really nice, cushy, and fun job for the most part. Who wouldn't want to review music for a living? But, imagine being the critic who has to review Warren Zevon's swan song, The Wind, knowing that Zevon is terminally ill? What if it sucks? Nobody wants to be the one to write that review. Luckily, Zevon's final studio album is a tour de force that is a fitting last word in an impressive career.

I've already written quite a bit about Zevon, so I won't recap all of that here. Suffice it to say that I'm a fan of his work, if not obsessively so, and when The Wind was released I was eager to hear it but also a bit nervous that it might not live up to expectations. Or that it'd be maudlin.

In fact, Zevon delivers a healthy mix of irreverent tunes and touching songs that could really only be written by a man who knows his time is short.

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My favorite 100 albums of all time: #40 ("Excitable Boy")

Album cover for "Excitable Boy" by Warren ZevonIf it weren't for Warren Zevon, I'd have almost nothing to sing at the Karaoke bar. Whether this is laudable or something he should be ashamed of is left as an exercise to the reader. But give me a drink or three, and a mic, and I'll be happy to belt out most of the songs on Excitable Boy.

Sad to say, I didn't really follow Zevon's career until it was late in the game. I knew several tunes, but I didn't dig into Zevon's catalog until his collaboration with R.E.M. on the Hindu Love Gods in 1990. You just haven't lived until you've heard Zevon belting out a bluesy take on Prince's "Raspberry Beret." Come to think of it, I also owe Zevon and the Love Gods (in part) for actually paying closer attention to blues music.

Excitable Boy is Zevon's third album, released in 1978, and features many of Zevon's best-known songs. "Johnny Strikes Up the Band," is a pleasant opener, mid-tempo pop with great harmonies and sets the mood for the album nicely.

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