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Picks and Pans Review: Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School

updated 05/19/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/19/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Warren Zevon

As a kid, Zevon obviously devoured horror comics, cowboy flicks and The Untouchables. Nothing else would account for his uniquely baleful brand of dirge-rock and a singing style as ominous as twin sixshooters. Zevon's fans will find this album a macho-morbid match for his previous two. Jungle Work, about "Les Mercenaires" with their Sten guns, features an evocative chorus of deep voices, presumably brutalized natives, moaning "uhh-huhh-huhh" as they trudge along. Sometimes Zevon misses—on the meaningless title cut and on a clumsy tribute to wacko baseball pitcher Bill Lee, for example. But he does find the right beat and humor in Ernie K-Doe's 1961 R&B hit A Certain Girl. And Wild Age is an elemental anthem ("It's the Wiiiiiiiillll-Dage!"). Best, though, is Gorilla, You're a Desperado, a worthy comic successor to his Werewolves of London. An ape "in the L.A. Zoo/ Snatched the glasses right off my face/Took the keys to my BMW/Left me here to take his place." The gorilla winds up in Transactional Analysis while Zevon remains at the monkey house. The image ideally suits his chest-thumping virtuosity.

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