"This one gets moved to the top of the review priority list after hearing that Zevon has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. This was shocking news for someone so young. While it's cruel to say his best years were behind him (that's what too much substance abuse will do), what he's going to leave behind is very special. I was in college when "Excitable Boy" came out. He was called "The New Contender", and for awhile he was. That album remains an all-time classic, and six songs from that album are deservedly on this one. But there was more good stuff, before and after. Before "...Boy" hit, he was mostly known for writing "Poor, Poor Pitiful Me", which was a hit for Linda Ronstadt. He has his own excellent version here, plus "Mohammed's Radio", "Desperados Under the Eaves", and what should have been his signature song, the outstanding "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" from that period. He would never come out with something as great as "...Boy" again, but there was more. My favorite of these is "The Envoy". The album ends with "Looking for the Next Best Thing", which you can interpret any way you want to. A couple more albums like this, and he would have not only been a contender, he could have been the best that ever was."
Skip This for "Genius"
Tim Brough | Springfield, PA United States | 09/12/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Warren Zevon is a lost American Treasure. Like John Prine and maybe Randy Newman, he understood that songs could also stand as separate literary structures. But since "Genius" contains his post Elektra/Asylum output and the uncensored version of "Lawyers Guns and Money" (the you-know-what does not hit the fan on "AQNL"), "Genius" is the better buy. Of course, if you're feeling adventurous and have a few extra bucks, you should spring for "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead.""Genius" does trade off "AQNL's" "Ain't That Pretty at All" and the title track to the brilliant "The Envoy." Maybe someday that album and the live "Stand In The Fire" will make it to CD...."
A Perfect Platter of Mr. Z
Brian D. Rubendall | Oakton, VA | 07/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For the unitiated, the fourteen songs contained on "A Quiet Normal Life" are about as fine an introduction to this quirky artist as you could hope for. Covering Zevon's most creative period (1976-1982), it contains most of his best known songs. The catchy tunes "Werewolves of London" and "Exciteable Boy" that start things off are perfect Zevon, featuring excellent hooks and truly funny (and horrific) lyrics. And there are other tracks that duplicate these highlights, including "Lawyers, Guns and Money," "Poor Poor Pitiful Me," and "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner." Zevon is a devastatingly talented songwriter who at his best cuts sharply with biting wit and social commentary that isn't heavty handed. Occassionally, with a tune like "Looking for the Next Best Thing," he can even show a surprising tender side. Overall, "A Quiet Normal Life" is a terrific introduction to the unique genius that is Warren Zevon."
I should have read this page first
Babytoxie | Dallas, TX USA | 01/12/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"If I'd have known that "Lawyers, Guns, & Money" was edited, I wouldn't have bought this. Also, I think it's time to release an updated greatest hits with some of his more current tunes plus a more diverse selection of old ones. The tracks on this CD all sound fairly much the same, and it makes for pretty tedious listening."
A place to start.
J. Carroll | Island Heights,NJ | 03/02/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Like most Greatest Hit collections, A Quiet Normal Life captures most of the early highlights of Zevon's career but is far from comprehensive. If you only know "Werewolves of London" this might be a good place to start but the real fans are going to go for I'll Sleep When I'm Dead the more comprehensive anthology. Pretty pathetic liner notes accompany this Hits package and it should be used as intro to Zevon only. Hardcore fans save your bucks."