David Allan Coe

Compass Point

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David Allan Coe was prolific in the 1970s; he released nine albums between 1974-1979 on the Columbia label alone, along with some self-released albums of questionable taste for fan-club members and Texas Moon on the Plantation label. Compass Point is a solid outing from top to bottom. Coe goes to the well once more for respect, with a cast of killer studio musicians -- some of whom were members of his road band -- and the combined production talents of Billy Sherrill and Ron Bledsoe, who had come to work together seamlessly. With Bledsoe's gritty, in-your-face, performance-based approach and Sherrill's polish and sense of space and texture, they were able to balance all of the inherent contradictions in Coe's music, from the gorgeous balladry of "Gone," "Heads or Tails," and the elaborately arranged dark honky tonk of "Merle and Me" (not Haggard) to the rocking bluegrass stomp of "Honey Don't" and the boozy Tex-Mex swagger of "Lost." The album's classic has to be "Loving Her (Will Make You Lose Your Mind)." Here, hard country instrumentation meets Tejano melody and Caribbean backbeats in an easy, shuffling breeze of a dark song of regret and warning. As a coda to a decade that went by in a blur of fame, success, madness, tragedy, and disappointment, Coe left it on a very high note with an album that looked brightly to the future.

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