Personnel includes: Warren Zevon (vocals, piano, organ); Danny Kortchmar (guitar, percussion); Arthur Gerst (harp); Waddy Wachtel, Jim Horn (saxophone); Kenny Edwards, John McVie, Bob Glaub, Leland Sklar (bass); Rick Marotta, Mick Fleetwood, Jeff Porcaro (drums); Greg Ladanyi (percussion); Karla Bonoff, Jennifer Warnes, Jackson Browne, Jorge Calderon, J.D. Souther, Linda Rondstadt (background vocals).
Warren Zevon came roaring out of the '70s touchy-feely California singer-songwriter gene pool with one hand on the piano and the other waving a pistol. While his more genteel peers were primarily concerned with taking it easy, Zevon crawled under the seedy side of L.A. and poured it into his ivories, taking in every ounce of decadence and excess. Although the weight the underworld would eventually all but break him, EXCITABLE BOY finds Zevon empowered by his surroundings.
The terrain is unsettling, bizarre and often soaked with blood. Stalking across the landscape are pina colada-sipping werewolves, headless mercenaries, and desperate gamblers. That the sound and overall musical mood of the record is upbeat underscores Zevon's ability to attach a winning melody to a gallow's tale. The home runs are the instantly memorable "Werewolves of London," the murderous glee of "Excitable Boy," and the affecting "Accidentally Like a Martyr." The inclusion of obvious filler cuts detract from the overall focus of the record but that is a small complaint. After all, it takes a special man to turn a tale of rape and murder into a cheery singalong.
Uncut (9/03, p.96) - "...Zevon took the vernacular of the pop song into uncharted, bloody territory..."
Dirty Linen (p.44) - "Tule's Blues' is a lovely, slightly rambling love song with only Zevon's piano."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.124) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "With the band ribald, raunchy and right beside him on every syllable, he pounds that piano, relentless raw rocking. He howls and roars and guffaws."