Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Warren Zevon: I'll Sleep When I'm Dead (An Anthology) [Rhino, 1996]
His limitations are manifest and probably permanent. A gonzo drunk who thinks pounding is rocking and considers it the secret of his charm when his bassist observes, "He's just as crazy now as he was then, only now he knows it," he specializes in what his buddy Jackson Browne (who's such a wheel his best-of CD is on his real label) calls "song noir," which means he's overimpressed with Raymond Chandler and is occasionally matches his buddy Carl Hiaasen. As a tough-guy neoclassicist he of course cultivates his mawkish side (what is "sentimental hygiene," anyway?), preserved in all its lovingly worked poetry on this, his interim will and testament. His gifts have faded slowly. And if he's good enough that I'd replace a third of the 44 selections here, that means he's also good enough to roll his own. A-