Warren Zevon - The Envoy (1982) (Remastered 2007)

While moderation was never Warren Zevon's strong suit, his efforts to clean himself up in the early '80s resulted in two of his finest albums, 1980's literate but corrosive Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School and the following year's explosive live set Stand in the Fire. It seemed as if the wired chaos of Zevon's personal life had been channeled into his art on those LPs, but after another bout with the bottle and another attempt at sobriety, Zevon tried another approach at merging his music and his life on 1982's The Envoy. On The Envoy's best songs, Zevon tackles his dangerous appetites head on; "Charlie's Medicine" is a chilling requiem for a drug dealer who used to sell him dope, "Jesus Mentioned" is a spare but curiously moving meditation on the death of Elvis Presley, who "went walking on the water with his pills," and the ragged but right " Ain't That Pretty at All" is an unlikely but powerful recovery anthem in which he howls "I'd rather feel bad than not feel anything at all." When Zevon confronts his own demons on The Envoy, the album is intense and compelling stuff, but unfortunately there aren't enough of these moments to prop up the rest of the set, which is smart and literate but not especially exciting. Novelist Thomas McGuane co-wrote "The Overdraft," a hard-charging rocker that unfortunately doesn't make much sense, while the languid "The Hula Hula Boys" plays like a joke in which the punch line got lost, and the two love songs, "Let Nothing Come Between You" and "Looking for the Next Best Thing," manage to sound at once heartfelt and like lesser variations on themes he'd covered with greater strength before. The Envoy would prove to be Zevon's last album for five years after he took another stumble into addiction, but while it's an often brave and ambitious disc, the high points don't quite redeem its weaknesses. [In 2007, Rhino Records gave The Envoy its belated debut on CD in a remastered and expanded edition featuring new liner notes from David Wild and four bonus tracks recorded during the album's original sessions. There's an alternate take of "Let Nothing Come Between You" with some alternate lyrics and a sloppy pass at the Troggs' "Wild Thing" that's fun but hardly revelatory. More interesting are "Word of Mouth," a taut and rhythmic instrumental, and "The Risk," which sounds like it wasn't quite finished but walks a provocative line between Zevon's tales of romance and self-destruction; it would have made a nice coda for the album, and is the one really essential new track on this edition.]...M. Deming

320 @
103 MB


01 The Envoy 3:13
02 The Overdraft 2:44
03 The Hula Hula Boys 3:02
04 Jesus Mentioned 2:45
05 Let Nothing Come Between You 3:41
06 Ain't That Pretty at All 3:35
07 Charlie's Medicine 4:51
08 Looking for the Next Best Thing 3:4
09 Never Too Late for Love 4:46
10 Word of Mouth prev. unreleased / Bonus / Outtake 4:01
11 Let Nothing Come Between You prev. unreleased / Bonus / Alternate Take 3:40
12 The Risk prev. unreleased / Bonus / Outtake 2:34
13 Wild Thing prev. unreleased / Bonus / Outtake 2:29

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