August 1980: Warren Zevon Rocks LA's Roxy Theatre with 'Stand in the Fire'

Warren Zevon
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Album cover art

40 years ago this month, Warren Zevon brought the house down in West Hollywood while recording his first live album Stand in the Fire.

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During a five-night residency at Los Angeles' Roxy Theatre, Zevon recruited Boulder, a Colorado band (whose debut included a cover of his "Join Me in L.A.)," as well as usual crew of guitarist David Landau and bassist Robert Pinto, and hit the road, ready to rumble for his Dog Ate the Part We Didn't Like tour.

Though Zevon had built a steady reputation as a drinking-man's drinking man, the cult singer-songwriter kicked his tastes for alcohol to the curb that summer. The resulting performances that were recorded and released in 1980's Stand in the Fire showcased a hungry Zevon, eager to let loose through the standalone highs of pure rock 'n roll. 

With Boulder's tight backing in support, Zevon doubled down on his brilliant   songwriting skills as he poured his heart out on stage, jamming at the top of his game as a performer and entertainer. Amongst the established classics he performed those nights, including “Excitable Boy," “Lawyers, Guns and Money,” “Poor Poor Pitiful Me,” and “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead,” he injected his signature dose of spontaneity by name-checking James Taylor and Jackson Browne in his rendition of “Werewolves of London." The tongue-in-cheek artist also rewrote the lyrics to "Mohammed's Radio" as a compelling reflection of the Iranian Hostage Crisis.  

After a piping rendition fo "Bo Diddley' a Gunslinger" and "Bo Diddley," the band left the stage, the house lights dimmed and Zevon took a seat at the piano where he switched from sweaty rock to heartfelt ballads, including "Frank and Jesse James" and "Hasten Down the Wind," in a blink of an eye.  Before the final number, Zevon delivered an autobiographical introduction, saying he wrote “Hasten Down the Wind” at a time when he “was poor and strung out and screwed up. Now I’m just screwed up.”  

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Released in December 1980, the Martin Scorsese-dedicated live album marked Zevon's first live album effort and climbed to No. 80 on Billboard's Pop that year. 

The forthcoming Deluxe Edition of the album sees the incendiary album's first reissue on vinyl since the '80s as a 2LP set that includes 10 bonus tracks, 4 previously unavailable on vinyl and 6 never-before-heard gems. The limited reissue is available for pre-order here. See the full track listing below. 

Track Listing

Side A

1 Stand In The Fire 3:26

2 Jeannie Needs A Shooter 4:00

3 Excitable Boy 3:52

4 Mohammed’s Radio 4:45

5 Werewolves Of London 4:48

Side B

1 Lawyers, Guns and Money 3:49

2 The Sin 3:18

3 Poor Poor Pitiful Me 4:08

4 I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead 4:28

5 Bo Diddley’s A Gunslinger/Bo Diddley 4:15

Side C

1 Johnny Strikes Up The Band 3:22 *previously unavailable on vinyl

2 Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner 4:29 *previously unreleased

3 Play It All Night Long 3:53 *previously unavailable on vinyl

4 Night Time In The Switching Yard 4:31 *previously unreleased

5 Gorilla You’re A Desperado 2:44 *previously unreleased

Side D

1 Bad Luck Streak In Dancing School 3:44 *previously unreleased

2 The Sin (alternate slightly longer version) 4:09 *previously unreleased

3 Frank and Jesse James 4:14 *previously unavailable on vinyl

4 Hasten Down The Wind 3:02 *previously unavailable on vinyl

5 A Certain Girl 5:35 *previously unreleased

 

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(Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
Prince let it be known in no uncertain terms that he was still remarkably relevant.
(ABC)
The album climbed all the way to #3 on the Billboard 200.
The band Molly Hatchet, left to right, Dave Hlubek, Duane Roland, Banner Thomas, and Steve Holland, performing onstage at the Park West in Chicago, Illinois, May 8, 1979. (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)
Holland was just 66 years old.

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