David Allan Coe

Human Emotions

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By the end of 1978, outlaw singer/songwriter David Allan Coe had gone through another divorce -- one that was apparently very difficult, because he recorded this entire album around the topic. The subtitle of Human Emotions is "Happy Side/Suicide." Side one is comprised of songs composed -- and some recorded -- before his wife left; side two is the aftermath. At this time, producer Billy Sherrill had really begun to make his presence felt on David Allan Coe's records. Ron Bledsoe is still here with his patented honky tonk production style, but the Sherrill ambience creeps in here and gives everything a certain commercial-sounding fullness rather than the space of his earlier records. Human Emotions is a very commercial record that might have done well with radio and in stores had it not been for the positively menacing cover of an aviator-shaded Coe in full biker attire holding an acoustic guitar, next to the skull of an antelope. The album opens with a re-recording of "Would You Lay With Me (In a Field of Stone)," a track Sherrill convinced Coe to redo. This version is not as strong, perhaps because it comes from a place of brokenness rather than the ecstatic font of new love, but it is still an elegant and powerful tome. Human Emotions has plenty of standouts, however, like "You Can Count on Me," with its irrepressible chorus and phase-shifting guitars, and "Mississippi River Queen," a country rocker that sounds as if it were written for Hank Williams, Jr.. The title track is a masterpiece, with its syncopated vocal lead lines, country-waltz tempo, and huge backing chorus. There are also the outlaw anthems "Whiskey and Women" (with Janie Fricke on backing vocals) and one of the greatest drinking songs of all time, "Jack Daniels if You Please." The album finishes on a downer note with the track "Suicide," but despite its dark theme, Human Emotions is one of Coe's better efforts in the 1970s.

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