Kevin Coyne

Peel Sessions

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Such is Kevin Coyne's relative obscurity that one of his few albums released in America is his Peel Sessions collection, which of course isn't an album per se to begin with. Like many of the best such radio session compilations, though, Coyne's serves both as a good introduction to his work, and a reasonable overview of highlights over time. With the exception of the concluding "I Couldn't Love You," recorded in 1990, all selections are from his 1970s heyday, inasmuch as such a cult artist as himself could be said to have had one. Something that will grab any new listener will be the generally warm feeling of the music and performance. Coyne is hardly singing about light subjects, as song titles like the freaked "Evil Island Home," and steadier "Poor Swine," confirm. However, his backing band, which stays fairly constant throughout most of the sessions aside from a few solo cuts here and there, kicks up a good enough mid-paced rock/R&B stew. There's even a bit of jazzy scatting on "Dance of the Bourgeoisie," though the intent is more than a little satirical, turning into more random free forming as it goes. "Cheat Me" is a more straightforward example, with the electric guitar giving everything the right twang, while Coyne's acoustic work on songs like "The Miner's Song" have the same good vibe. Coyne's voice is more than twangy itself; if he's yet another British singer of his age who often sounds like he wants to be from around New Orleans, he carries it off better than some, and isn't afraid to let his natural accent surface more than once. Let his lyrics and the gruff explosions of frustration and rage that often accompany it sink in, though, and everything is much more than a genre exercise.

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