Wanted Dead or Alive is the first album by singer/songwriter Warren Zevon, released in 1969. It was originally released on the Imperial label. The track "She Quit Me" was featured in the film Midnight Cowboy, as "He Quit Me." It was was produced by 1960s cult figure Kim Fowley but did not fare well in the marketplace. Flashes of Zevon's later writing preoccupations of romantic loss and noir-ish violence are present in songs like "Tule's Blues", "A Bullet for Ramona", and the album's title track.
All tracks composed by Warren Zevon; except where indicated
- "Wanted Dead or Alive" (Kim Fowley, M. Cerf) – 2:36
- "Hitchhikin' Woman" – 2:16
- "She Quit Me" – 4:48
- "Calcutta" – 2:19
- "Iko-Iko" (M. Jones, S. Jones, J. Jones, M. Thomas) – 1:54
- "Traveling in the Lightning" – 3:05
- "Tule's Blues" – 3:32
- "A Bullet for Ramona" (Zevon, P. Evans) – 3:50
- "Gorilla" – 3:23
- "Fiery Emblems" – 3:15
- Warren Zevon - bass, guitar, keyboards, vocals
- Skip Battin - bass
- Ed Caraeff - percussion
- Jon Corneal - drums
- Toxey French - drums
- Gary Mallaber - drums
- Brent Seawell - bass
- Sweet Trifles - vocals, background vocals
- Drachen Theaker - drums
Engineered by Johnny Golden.
The album received a so-so reception and, though it was basically ignored when it was first released, it got more attention after its 2003 CD re-release. Most of these reviews are thus given in hindsight and thus it is compared more negatively when compared to what most consider Zevon's stronger later work. Zevon is often stated to have grown grew to dislike the album himself, partly due to its strained development and his artistic differences with Kim Fowley that lead to him abandoning his producer role. However, in later interviews he seemed to look back on it, and its faults and unpolished aspects, with good humour.
Rolling Stone put it simply by saying "hey, he just wasn't ready then. Simple as that." Though the magazine's biography of Zevon does mention his first album as "enjoyable apprentice work." Allmusic gave the album two and half stars and noted "as a shambolic mess of a record, one that wears its excesses everywhere, even with its stark production, [the album] works well" and "while it doesn't even rate on a scale with the rest of Zevon's work, if this album were... by any of the current crop of songwriters... it would be hailed as a work of genius." The Daily Page stated "rather than a side track or dead end in his discography, Wanted Dead of Alive today sounds more like Zevon's vision of how to put together an album emerging a bit ahead of its time."