Warren Zevon, Sentimental Hygiene

To the extent this was his (first) comeback album the title doesn't really square. Thanks to his raging alcohol and drug abuse pretty much no one was sentimental over his work by then, not even fans who wanted a second Excitable Boy, and this album sure isn't that. The vague attempts at singles are especially weak, notably (despite Flea) the who-can-dance-to-this dance track "Leave My Monkey Alone" — allegedly against colonialism but you'd have to be daft to miss the addiction reference — and the title track doesn't give you confidence of what's to come (despite Neil Young). But he got good support from many more friends than those, particularly most of R.E.M. who basically served as backup band (and contributed "Even A Dog Can Shake Hands," one of the better rockers), and among others Bob Dylan on the Springsteenesque-in-a-good-way "The Factory" and Don Henley on the thoughtful "Trouble Waiting To Happen." What makes this album work despite its cloddish moments is his willingness to soulstrip bare, and he does, without being edgy or ugly: the setting of "Detox Mansion" is hard to miss, and "Bad Karma" perilously flirts with shifting the blame, but "Reconsider Me" is its highlight and its heartfelt ask as much for himself as for his music. Overall, it's not bad for sheer sentiment, hygiene or no. The 2003 reissue adds the interesting if somewhat disordered instrumental "Nocturne," but also the Spanish language version of "Leave My Monkey Alone," which probably shouldn't have had a gringo sing it. (Content: no concerns.)