The Merry Mailman just delivered me a nice package from the good folks at Rhino Records -- expanded reissues of Warren Zevon's "Exciteable Boy," "The Envoy" and "Stand in the Fire" from 1980. This last is a genuine cause for celebration in that it's a) never been on CD before and b) one of the great live rock albums ever.
From Carl Hiassen's new liner notes:
One of the most heinous crimes in rock 'n' roll was the supression, intended or otherwise, of Warren Zevon's mind-blowing "Stand in the Fire," recorded live at the Roxy in Los Angeles. It tragically disappeared many years ago from the bins of music stores and could be found only by the intrepidly obsessed, and then strictly in the inferior format of the cassette. Now, at long last, this vanquished treasure is avilable to decent, law-abiding citizens on compact disc.
One of the reasons it's so good is that when it came time to tour, Warren didn't drag along any of the (often overly genteel) L.A. session guys who played on his studio albums. Instead, he hit the road with a highly unphotogenic bar band that he found one night who specialized in Zevon covers. This was their shot at the bigs, and as you can hear on the record they played as if their life depended on it.
It should be noted that there is, fortuately, no accompanying DVD version. I say fortunately because during this period Zevon -- apparently laboring under the misapprehension that he was auditioning for the Red Hot Chili Peppers -- frequently appeared on stage shirtless.
Here's an excellent live TV clip of one the best songs on the expanded CD -- When Johnny Strikes Up the Band -- from a slightly later vintage (1982). Zevon wears a nice suit; the band are the same guys he found in the bar.
Update: I'd totally forgotten he does "Mohammad's Radio" on the album. It's taken on a new layer of meaning, obviously.