- Zevon’s 1980 release finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish
- The best sides are doing most everything right — they’re cleaner, clearer, with better bass, more energy, better midrange presence, as well as lots of other qualities only found on the best analog pressings
- Features a long list of guest artists, detailed below, who brought their talents to bear on this superb album
- 4 1/2 stars: “The album’s rockers hit harder and cut deeper than any of his previous work, especially the twisted Southern gothic of “Play It All Night Long” and the mercenary’s anthem “Jungle Work,” while “Bed of Coals” and “Wild Age” found Zevon bravely addressing his own failings and expressing his need for a greater maturity in his life.”
This original Asylum pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely 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 Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear
- 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 even as late as 1980
- 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
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
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.
What We’re Listening For on Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- 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, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also 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 instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
- The Sid Sharp Strings – strings
- Jackson Browne – guitar, slide guitar on “Gorilla, You’re a Desperado”; backing vocals on “A Certain Girl”, “Play It All Night Long” and “Gorilla, You’re a Desperado”
- Don Felder – guitar on “A Certain Girl”
- Glenn Frey – harmony vocals on “Bill Lee” and “Wild Age”
- Don Henley – harmony vocals on “Wild Age” and “Gorilla, You’re a Desperado”
- Ben Keith – pedal steel guitar on “Bed of Coals”
- Linda Ronstadt – descant on “Empty-Handed Heart”; backing vocals on “Bed of Coals”
- Leland Sklar – bass guitar
- J.D. Souther – backing vocals on “Gorilla, You’re a Desperado” and “Bed of Coals”
- Waddy Wachtel – lead guitar on “A Certain Girl”; guitar on “Empty-Handed Heart”
- Joe Walsh – lead guitar on “Jungle Work” and “Jeannie Needs a Shooter”
Bad Luck Streak In Dancing School
A Certain Girl
Interlude No. 1
Play It All Night Long
Jeannie Needs A Shooter
Interlude No. 2
Gorilla, You’re A Desperado
Bed Of Coals
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
Excitable Boy earned Warren Zevon a hit single (“Werewolves of London”) and the mainstream success he richly deserved, but his new fame came with a price; the hard-living Zevon did not react well to the temptations that come with rock stardom, and in the wake of Excitable Boy he had developed a severe drinking problem. Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School was cut as Zevon was working hard to stay clean and sober and put his career back on track, and it projects an ambition and strength of focus that was decidedly absent from Excitable Boy.
The album’s rockers hit harder and cut deeper than any of his previous work, especially the twisted Southern gothic of “Play It All Night Long” and the mercenary’s anthem “Jungle Work,” while “Bed of Coals” and “Wild Age” found Zevon bravely addressing his own failings and expressing his need for a greater maturity in his life. While the album was still short on subtlety compared to 1976’s Warren Zevon, “Empty Handed Heart” proved Zevon could still write a straightforward song about love (not a happy one, but no one expected that from him anyway), and the two interludes for orchestra gave credence to Zevon’s claims that he planned to write a symphony some day (and that it might even be worth hearing).
. . . While Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School didn’t quite return Zevon to the top of his game, it made clear that the quality of Warren Zevon was no fluke, and is a stronger effort than Excitable Boy in nearly every respect.