FDF Volume 2: Issue 128 : Warren Zevon - Transverse City
Album - Transverse City
Artist - Warren Zevon
Key Players - Warren Zevon - guitar, harmonica, piano, keyboards, lead vocals. The record was chock full of guest players as well, and I will do what I can to make mention of them on each track.
Produced By - Warren Zevon, Andrew Slater and Duncan Aldrich
Release Date - October 1989
What caused me to blow off the dust? - Its been been a while for sure since I have listened, but I put out an "I need an idea of what to listen to" on Facebook recently and this was suggested.
Overview - Warren Zevon had been releasing a steady stream of records (this being his 9th) and then in 1989 he released this futuristic "concept" album. At the time Zevon was interested in the work of a science fiction writer William Gibson. Even with guest players like Neil Young and Jerry Garcia the record was a flop and he was released from Virgin Records.
FDF Comments (aka the songs) - A swirling barrage of keyboards open up "Transverse City" with flashes of some great bass fills by John Patatucci. The trademark Jerry Garcia riffs are head after the intro. Zevon sings in a monotone, gruff voice at a pretty good clip. With a buzz "Run Straight Down" fades right up, again with some swirling keyboards. Again, the track has another guitar legend on it. David Gilmour from Pink Floyd flashes his guitar chops on the dark/moody track, with a solo that seems to run the entire track. Jazz legend Chick Corea adds the piano work to "The Long Arm of the Law". Another track filled with flashy keyboards, but still allowing for the piano work of Corea to be up in the mix. The chorus has Zevon doing a call and response vocal run with himself. It is the piano work from Corea that really shines on the track. The vocals come right up on "Turbulence" a song that has a bluesy/bar room feel to it. Zevon is in fine voice and the backing vocals add a great touch to it Zevon even sings a verse in Russian. Another keyboard brings up "They Moved the Moon", the second track that Garcia plays on. The guitar is not a focus until later. The track has a very basic drum rap to it, with the keyboards holding long notes. The song never breaks its mold and the guitar work is not as outstanding as the lead off track. Speaking of guitar players, Neil Young appears on "Splendid Isolation", but not as the guitar player..as the harmonizer (he will play guitar soon stick around). This track is more up tempo and had begins with a nice harmonica run by Zevon. The track has a very happy feel to it, calling back to some of his earlier work perhaps. The piano gets a lot of focus, as does the harmonica. A stand out track. A nice full organ sound is found throughout "Networking", there are flashes of horns as well, but nobody is credited in the liner notes so perhaps they were keyboard fills? Getting back to his 'all-star line up" Zevon has Young play electric guitar, Jorma Kaukonen plays acoustic and Jack Casady (bassist from Jefferson Airplane) play bass on "Gridlock". How this song is not the theme to every news stations "traffic report" is beyond me. The angry driver like vocals the push from the backing musicians. "Roll down the Window, let me scream" is how just about everyone feels on their commute after all right? Young lays down a classic solo about the 2:10 mark that just melts the speakers, a rocking, fuzzed out (a little shorter than it should be!) solo. Zevon takes over the guitar on "Down in the Mall". The guitar is not as flashy as his guest players, but it does the track. There is some solid lap steel work (done by David Lindley) that adds a great touch a song that makes fun of the fascination with American shopping malls. The album winds down with a mellower track in "Nobody's in Love This Year". Zevon is more hushed and the soundscapes are filled with fluegelhorn and nice piano work. The horn adds a nice full sound.
Where are they now? - Warren died of lung cancer on September 7, 2003.
**updated** a person that commented had some additional information I felt was well written and important to post:
A minor, yet important, correction -- Warren died of mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs. This is important because meso is preventable -- the only known cause is exposure to asbestos, whcih is banned in many countries, but not in the U.S. Jordan Zevon, Warren's son, is a spokesperson for the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization and the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.
So, thank you for suggesting that be posted. (I appreciate any comments and will always work to make the post be as accurate as possible).
FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - The only time I saw Warren live was October 16, 2000 at the old House of Blues in Cambridge MA. I was working for the radio station at the time and it was a cd release party for our "Live from the River Music Hall" series. I didn't get to meet him, but Warren played a solo keyboard/piano show that went from mellow to rowdy and back again. It was great to see him live.
FDF Overall Take - In listening to this cd Warren put together a great collection of musicians and they all seemed to feed off one another very well. No song seems "out of place" and there is a good balance of faster and slow tunes. The flashy stand out moments hit you by surprise with the Gilmour or Garcia solos, they are really strong. Casual fans could get away with a best of collection, but if you are ready for some of his lesser known catalog cds, this is one to check out for sure.
His official site.
Curious? Check out some MUSIC!
The Mp3s have been taken down
Tracks were taken from "Transverse City" which you can buy here
This week, a great bonus download!
Warren live from Chicago in 1978!
May 13,1978 Parkwest, Chicago
**WOW A MUST HAVE** (Mp3s are now removed)
Johnny Strikes up the Band
Tenderness on the Block
Werewolves of London
Accidentally Like A Martyr
Band Intro - Rolland the Headless Thompson Gunner
Poor Poor Pitiful Me
Lawyers Guns & Money
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.