Picks and Pans Review: Mr. Bad Example

updated 01/20/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/20/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

Warren Zevon

You've no doubt heard the tale of the boy who cried wolf. Well, here's the tale of the critic who cried genius. Zevon has been cranking out records for about 15 years now. We rock-critic types tend to herald each of these releases by the Los Angeles singer-songwriter as a work of genius, or at least as the album that will finally make him a superstar. Then each sinks without a trace, 1978's gold Excitable Boy being the only exception.

Which brings us to album No. 11, Mr. Bad Example. Nobody may believe this, but it is truly a great album that ranks right up there with his finest work. The music still combines everything from rock to country to Tex-Mex twang. The lyrics still tend to be wry tales of lovers and losers told in the first person. The title cut contains the smug confessions of an entrepreneurial rogue who fleeces prostitutes and Australian opal miners and flees with his booty to Sri Lanka. The song titles, like "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead," are still a hoot.

Few people in rock have Zevon's knack for spinning strange tales over memorable melodies. This will surely be the album that breaks him into the big time. If not, guaranteed the next one will. (Giant)

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