|Recording information: The Roxy, Los Angeles, California (1981).|
In an era of wishy-washy singer-songwriters, Zevon immediately stood out as a wild card, a singer unafraid of the heat in kitchen. His first albums revealed a gifted songwriter equally comfortable with heroin-based love songs and manic rockers rife with gunplay. With Stand in the Fire however, he leaps into the flames with headlong abandon. Backed by a band of unknowns, Zevon embraces the spontaneous frenzy of what live performances aspire to but rarely achieve. The band pushes Zevon towards the edge of losing control and he answers every lick with crazed purpose.
He throws in marvelously extemporaneous lyrics during "Werewolves of London," screaming bloodlust while calling for the head of James Taylor. Mayhem reaches an apex during a pounding "Poor, Poor Pitiful Me," in which he actually threatens to kill the audience if they don't dance. There is no real threat of bodily harm while listening in the comfort of your own home, though the urge to light fires and empty revolvers into the sofa may become overpowering.
Why this searing live document, which captures the singer at the peak of his powers, had not been released on CD in anybody's guess.