- This superb copy of Zevon’s 1978 release boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- The sound is anchored by an exceptionally fat, rich, punchy low end, and this copy delivers on that promise big time
- Much like The Pretender, this is a superb recording with the kind of Tubey Magical Analog Richness we go crazy for here
- 4 stars: “Excitable Boy was an actual hit, scoring one major hit single, ‘Werewolves of London,’ and a trio of turntable hits (‘Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner,’ ‘Lawyers, Guns and Money,’ and the title track).”
Just listen to ‘Excitable Boy’ and ‘Werewolves Of London’ to hear how full-bodied the sound of this album can be — the louder you play it the better it gets!
That’s the Big Speaker Quality we live for around here. You turn it up and it starts to really ROCK.
This early Asylum pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What the best sides of Excitable Boy have to offer is not hard to hear:
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1978
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
The Fleetwood Mac Connection
Speaking of Werewolves of London, some of you may not know that the rhythm section for that song is made up of John McVie and Mick Fleetwood, otherwise known as Fleetwood Mac. Over the years I have come to appreciate the fact that they are clearly one of the top rock rhythm sections in the history of popular music. One can listen to Fleetwood Mac’s albums for the sole purpose of hearing the bass and drums create the ideal support for the songs as well as to drive the music rhythmically forward. On Werewolves their contribution is every bit as important to the success of the song as Zevon’s, IMHO.
What We’re Listening For on Excitable Boy
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the guitars, keyboards and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
- Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Johnny Strikes up the Band
Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner
Werewolves of London
Accidentally Like a Martyr
Night Time in the Switching Yard
Donald Fagen stole the beat for this song; do you know which of his songs is based on this rhythm track?
Tenderness on the Block
Lawyers, Guns and Money
Warren Zevon’s self-titled 1976 album announced he was one of the most striking talents to emerge from the Los Angeles soft rock singer/songwriter community, and Linda Ronstadt (a shrewd judge of talent if a sometimes questionable interpreter) recorded three of its songs on two of her biggest-selling albums, which doubtlessly earned Zevon bigger royalty checks than the album itself ever did.
But if Warren Zevon was an impressive calling card, the follow-up, Excitable Boy, was an actual hit, scoring one major hit single, “Werewolves of London,” and a trio of turntable hits (“Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner,” “Lawyers, Guns and Money,” and the title track).