Roctober.com    Roctober Magazine    Buy This Issue!

David Allan Coe ALBUM REVIEWS


(From Roctober #21, 1998)

Here's some opinions you can use, or discard, when flippin' through the record bins (or Dave's merch table) for David Allan Coe stuff. The reviewers are: JA-Jake Austen, B-Bosco, DD- Dave Donet, RF-Richard Fork, JW-Jeff Womack, JP-James Porter, WT-Waymon Timbsdayle.

Penitentiary Blues (SSS International, 1969)
This is the holy grail with most David Allan Coe fans. When we saw him at the House Of Blues here in Chicago, the biker diehards hooted with joy when Coe encored with "Little David" and "Death Row" from this album. The label owner, Shelby Singleton was a backwoods Neil Bogart (president of Buddha and Casablanca). From Jeanie C. Riley's "Harper Valley, PTA" to Rod Hart's gay trucker novelty record "CB Savage" to masked Elvis "resurrection," Orion, Singleton knew a thing or two about marketing gimmicks. A Blues-rockin' ex-con was right up his alley. The album's gatefold cover had die-cut rectangles on the front (against a pic of Coe doing his best Pigmeat Markham frown) to simulate prison bars! The back has four color pix of a pencil thin Coe, in period appropriate hippie attire---one shot has him posing in front of the white funeral hearse he used to drive to gigs in, with paste on letters, old-school handbills (the bold letter ones you see for Blues shows and wrestling matches) and pasted in the windows are Coe 7 inch singles (who has those today!), all advertising "DAVE COE." Another photo has the skinny Coe hitchhiking on a Tennessee highway with a cherry red Fender Strat in his hand. If you look close, his fly is open (free advertising for the ladies?). Even if you didn't know who Coe was, you should have bought this for the cover! Rolling Stone actually gave this a positive review calling it "a sleeper" with a "50s Sun sound." Coe's booming voice is swimming in echo at all times, songs like "One Way Ticket To Nowhere," hint at Rockabilly (great chicken-picking guitar) and he obviously grew up listening to WLAC's Black programming at night. "Monkey David Wine" (scary monkey imitations---did he bring King Kong into the studio?) looks back at Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "Alligator Wine," and the litany of gross-sounding foods in "Death Row" stretches back to Jimmy Roger's "My Last Meal" (later covered Little Richard style by Hurricane Harry on Okeh), and Hawkins' "There's Something Wrong With you." "The Bells," Billy Ward and the Dominos old doo-wop weeper (about the death of a lover) is reworked as "Funeral Parlor Blues." Together with other tunes like "Conjer Man," this is one tuff album. After listening to his diverse Columbia albums, the songs here damn near run together after awhile, but it hauls ass over the usual hippie Blues of the period. There'll be dancing in the streets when they reissue this one. (JP)

Requiem For A Harlequin (SSS International, 1973)
This sequel to "Penitentiary Blues" is again the notes of a Blues singing ex-con. However, what's striking about his album is the brutal, bleak, urban imagery. The sensitivity he is to display on his Columbia albums manifests itself more as perceptiveness, as he vividly describes "an asphalt jungle," filled with predatory junkies, whores and misfits. It's a concept album, exploring these themes to extremes, and it is more an album-lengthed poem than a conventional series of sung songs. This is one of the hardest to find DAC records, one of the most unusual, and it also has one of the best titles!(WT)

The Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy (Columbia, 1974)
This major label debut eschews the Blues, structurally if not spiritually, and presents David as an exquisite voiced singer of sensitive portraits and landscapes. There is definitely Nashville level production (no rawness), but there's not a hint of Music Row hackishness in the songwriting. A cover art hints at what you're getting into. We see The M.R.C., in his sequined jacket and cowboy hat from the back. On the wall a jagged broken piece of mirror reflects his face, and his expression makes it clear that the glitter is of far less importance than the introspection. Though this album definitely introduces this new songwriter and performer, far different from the Bluesman incarnation, and there are strong songs ("Crazy Mary," "A Sad Country Song"), there no real masterpieces. Nothing here would become true a staple of his live set like material off the upcoming album. Nonetheless, this is a strong debut.(JA)

Once Upon A Rhyme (Columbia, 1975)
No sophomore slump here. With this album David really made a mark on Country, and produced an album with material so strong it can stand up with the all-time classic LPs in the genre. I really don't think that is fannish hyperbole, because the craftsmanship on this is amazing! Opening with his million seller (for Tanya Tucker) "Would You Lay With Me (In A Field Of Stone)," Coe really allows his voice to let this song flow, with a subtle, sublime reading that really shows the song's strength. "Jody Like A Melody," a song he'd play live perpetually and re-record often, follows and it's a gem. After two more strong numbers, he ends the side with the upbeat "Sweet Vibrations (Some Folks Call It Love)," a Folk/Gospel number that sounds like a familiar traditional the first time you hear it. The well named "Another Pretty Country Song" opens side two, and then Coe hands over the writing chores to others, and makes some wonderful choices. The album ends with, perhaps, his most famous number, Steve Goodman's "You Never Even Called Me By My Name." Even though the novelty ending is what endears the song to non-Country fans and frat boys, the real key to its success is Coe's execution. His singing, speaking and demeanor really bring this one home. Though he would work for years with the king of Nashville hit production, Billy Sherrill, and though he would make many LPs far different and equally brilliant in their own ways, never again would David produce as perfect a pop Country LP. Few have.(JA)

Longhaired Redneck (Columbia, 1976)
This is an LP that should convert disbelievers. The title track is a perfect Coe song. The bragging, namedropping, shit talking, infectious melody and proud outsider stance grasp your insides with a tattooed hand. Follow that up with, "She's Got Me(Where She Wants Me)," a great ballad with primo Coe crooning and you've got the definitive DAC record in just two songs. Side two delivers the goods to anyone who was still not convinced. "Family Reunion" should get the Opry fans and traditionalists, "Free Born Rambling Man" should get the Honky Tonkers and "Dakota The Dancing Bear Part !!" has a little something for the acid tripping hippies who grabbed this by mistake. This album also begins the tradition of David writing a letter to the fans on the LP cover. This letter is full of braggadocio as he declares himself the victor in the war of the Outlaw Country singers, the last one standing in Nashville! (JA)

David Allan Coe Rides Again (Columbia, 1977)
David, on the cover of this album, is riding a chopper and looking ready to kick some ass. And that he does. The Album kicks off with Dave doing the namedropping thing, in his classic "Willie, Waylon and Me." Like Willie and Waylon, he then shows he can deliver a diverse serving of styles and deliveries. But like a true outlaw event, the night ends with an all out brawl, as Coe declares, in what will become a mantra for years to come, "If That Country . . . you can kiss my ass!" (WT)

Tattoo (Columbia 1977)
Coe declares himself a "miracle" in his letter/liner notes, proves himself a good Country son in "Daddy Was A Godfearin' man," and returns to his toast-like songs from "Penitentiary Blues" with "Just To Prove My Love To You." Less than a year after Rolling Stone had turned on him you might expect a really bitter, profane album, but this is definitely a record that Country traditionalists can dig (though the cover may confuse them, a painting of a slim, tattooed, shirtless Dave).(WT)

Human Emotions (Happy Side/SU-I-SIDE) (Columbia, 1978)
The most powerful, pathetic, gut-wrenching thing on this record is the letter, this time not to the fans, but to a wife that left him, "taking our daughter and my dog." (At least he listed the daughter first!) The happy side ain't too happy, as he reinterprets "Would You Lay..." from a more damaged perspective. It does end on an upbeat note, with the introduction of Coe's Key West style, a style comparable to Jimmy Buffett (who "doesn't live in Key West anymore"). The Su-I-Side posits a slow boozy demise rather than a quick Kevorki-method. This stuff actually is pretty standard Country Cheatin' & Drinkin' stuff, but that ain't a bad thing. "Jack Daniels If You Please" became a Coe standard.(JA)

Family Album (Columbia, 1978)
Dave declares the Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy dead in his letter to the fans as he dedicates an album to his actual family and to the family of traditional Country music. Of course being DAC, the photos in his family album might not look like yours (or they might), as the snapshots on the cover include polygamous Dave with his two wives (the closing song is an ode to Mormon values), his bodyguard on a motorcycle, Dave with bloody "Buckstone County Prison" makeup on, and Dave in corpsepaint as the Mysterious Rhinestoner. The song on this record that has entered the DAC cannon is "Divers Do It Deeper," his first really successful Key West, Florida style song, but there are a lot of should be/would be hits on here. The very "Mama Tried"-esque "Family Album" has everything a Country classic needs, "Take This Job and Shove It" was, of course, a smash for Johnny Paycheck and he even has a song that brilliantly tips its hat to Country legends and Country wordplay. In "Bad Impressions" he actually does bad impressions to sing the song, including an awful Hank Snow. (JA)

Buckstone County Prison soundtrack (DAC, 1978)
If you haven't seen the movie, it's not easy to describe, but suffice to say this Billy Jack-esque tale is brutal! In the film, a noble Native American bounty hunter/tracker is framed and sent to a corrupt prison, and let out to track some escapees. His rival is played by Coe, and bloody fights, nasty action, rape, murder and violence soak this great flick. Coe is a better singer turned movie villain than Gene Simmons and Sleepy Labeef put together. Hmm...he kind of looks like Gene Simmons and Sleepy Labeef put together. The album is one of my favorites. It's his first and best movie soundtrack. This spoken word/Blues album is actually a lot better than "Penitentiary Blues," where he was too Screaming Jay Hawkins at times for me. This also includes "Rockin' Country" by co-star Earl Owensby. (WT, DD)

Spectrum VII (Columbia, 1979)
This is a solid album with good writing and singing, but I can't help it...I just gotta talk about the packaging! While he is wearing outrageous outfits on his early records, the dark, artistic photography tempers the glitter, almost making an ironic statement. But "Family Album" and this one discard the dark-design principal and replace it with a turquoise and pastel Key West theme. Not to say the "madness" is gone. On the cover of this one he is standing on the shore dressed as a pirate, surrounded by sexually suggestive conch shells. In the sky his name appears in an exact replica of Superman's logo. His letter to the fans explains the numerology of 7s that he hopes will bring him good luck ("...my 7th album for CBS and it has 7 musicians on it. There's a song called Seven mile Bridge that is seven minutes and seven seconds long...") and on the back sleeve 7 small photos of DAC in various personas float through the Florida sky. In one he is in the tub reading his autobiography, in one he is dressed in a superheroic Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy costume, in one he is a hippie meditating in front of a "Buckstone County Prison" poster, in one he's a pirate with a parrot and a woman, in two he is in various stages (wheelchair, crutches) of recovery of his appendix exploding (explained in song and text on the album) and in the last a comic book/carnival pirate painting represents "CEREMONIAL POWER." All the pictures have a principal ("Knowledge," "Devotion," etc.) and a music scale note ("Do," "Re," "Mi," etc.) framing them. While looking at this cover as the album played my wife asked a very good question about DAC, one that really represents the greatest irony about Coe: "Shouldn't his voice sound more crazy?" The fact that he sings so clearly, and often so upbeat in the Caribbean Key West style he would delve into during this period, you wonder where the extreme oddness and scariness that manifest themselves in his appearance and life decisions goes when he starts crooning? Well this album really keeps that mystery alive. He sings about his life, his problems, and his triumphs in a range of styles comparable to Willie Nelson ("On My Feet Again"), The Eagles ("What Can I Do") and Southern Rock ("Sudden Death") and all the time seeming really . . .sane. Perhaps Coe's sanity is his true secret.(JA)

Compass Point (Columbia, 1979)
The Key West, Florida period David Allan Coe has its pluses and minuses. The pluses include making some great "Jimmy Buffett style" songs, many outshining Buffett (who of course, 'doesn't live in Key West anymore'), including the gem that closes the album, "X's and O's," a real charmer about loving anagrams. The biggest minus would have to be this album cover, an airbrushed pastel-ish nautical map with a portrait of David in a Mr. Howell yacht club hat painted by "Hobie of Key West Design." Getting past that, although the entire B side is Key West style, side A may be some of DAC's best "Outlaw" style material, as strong as the contemporaneous work of Kristofferson and Willie. He even gets to say "shit" about a hundred times on "Honey Don't" (not the Perkins classic!). (JA)

Nothing Sacred (DAC, 1979) and Underground (DAC, 1980)
In his book, This is...David Allan Coe, Coe says that his mail-order X-rated records weren't meant to represent him as a writer. The mere idea of somebody like Coe doing an album of songs with filthy lyrics sounds good on paper, but not everything here works. However, on "Nothing Sacred" his "Three Biggest Lies" ("This'll only hurt for a little while/I'll only put the tip of it in/I promise that I'll never try to come in your mouth") could have been a smashing HIT if it weren't for the words! Also on that record, "Fuck Aneta Briant" (sic) refers to now-forgotten media event, where singer/orange juice-pitchwoman Anita Bryant led an anti-gay crusade (anyone remember when someone threw a fruit pie at her during a rally?) The brilliant song, one of Coe's all time best, posits a gay rights stance from the point of view of a convict who appreciates the gay's roles in prison society. "Fuck Aneta Briant, who the hell is she/Telling all them faggots that they can't be free...(they) rub your feet, beat your meat, heaven only knows/Wha'd I do with out those homosexuals!?!" Just his rhyming of "knows" and "homosexuals" is amazing. Both albums are what outlaw rockin' biker country music is all about. Irreverent, racist, as un-PC as humanly possible, yet done with striking musical prowess. Though "Nothing Sacred" has the better songs, the best title is on "Underground": "Don't Bite The Dick." (JP, B)

I've Got Something To Say (Columbia, 1980)
Coe announces in the liners that "the time has come to make a few records for the radio guys," and that's how we got this LP. While there's nothing out of the ordinary, it's not Nashville hack job either. Bill Anderson, Kris Kristofferson, George Jones and a bunch of others make appearances here and there, and Coe is his usual witty self ("Hank Williams, Jr.-Junior," "Take This Job and Shove It"). It's a solid LP across the board, and on "I Could Never Give You Up For Someone Else," Coe sounds exactly like Ronnie McDowell aping late period Elvis! (JP)

Invictus Means Unconquered (Columbia, 1981)
David may have never broke as a big mainstream star, but you can't say he wasn't cooperative with Billy Sherrill as far as trying goes. There isn't one song on this record David wrote by himself, and his co-writers are "names" (Guy Clark and Shel Silverstein) and he even covers "Stand By Your Man"! But even if a few cuts are cookie-cutter Country, you can't mistake this for a "normal" Country LP, especially if you have the original dustsleeve! First of all, he is posing, bigamist style, with two women and a Cheshire grin in a big photo, with "wife" Meme's hand on DAC's jewels. Then he has "dedications" after each lyric, as his letter to the fans. He has as bitter a sendoff to an ex as you'll ever read ("...be happy in the poverty stricken life you have to live. And I hope this is the last song that will ever be written about or for you." Get well, soon"), and he catalogues all of Dillinger's bank robberies. There is one really outstanding track on this record, "London Homesick Blues," a beautifully crafted, bitter, anti-Limey tune. (JA)

Tennessee Whiskey (Columbia, 1981)
Though the out of focus cover art suggests a knockoff record, this is in fact the apex of Billy Sherrill's slick production work with DAC. Somehow, unlike with his brilliant George Jones productions, there's a real raw edge left on everything. This includes a great cover of Jones' hit title track, and two Soul covers, Johnny Ace's "Pledging My Love" (preceded by a soliloquy where David recalls how he learned Ace aced himself playing Russian roulette, though DAC flashes his dramatic license with Ace's story) and "Dock Of A Bay." "D-R-U-N-K" and the upbeat "We Got A Bad Thing Going" are real rowdy crowdpleasers, and, in my opinion, this album is Nashville gold no matter how much it sold. (JA)

D.A.C. (Columbia, 1982)
This is a really confident DAC album. He wrote all the songs, his voice in on, and he has a great recitation explaining how as an entertainer making records is a hard thing for him, so he always puts aside some songs that are written for himself and for his longtime supporters, rather than for the record companies. He ends the LP with a three song medley of these songs. It's a good, strong finish to an enjoyable record. His letter to the fans on this is great too, and explains where his confidence is coming from. His last few albums have done well, and he's confident this is the breakthrough, and he just finished his second and third books which he is earnestly shilling ("If you know anyone in prison or about to go to prison they should read my new book..."). Also, one very amusing thing David started doing around this time was having his letter to the fans feature a narrative made up by stringing all the song titles together, no matter how awkward and MAD magazine that may seem.(JA)

Rough Rider (Columbia, 1982)
Somebody shoot the jukebox---D.A.C. went and made himself a real 1953-Dear John-Honky Tonk record! Seriously, this plays like some John Anderson or Joe Sun neo-traditional C&W album! Like Anderson, Sun, George Strait or the rest, Coe on this album tempers his 50s Honkey Tonk feel with modern production. Unfortunately Meme Brousard Coe, his wife at the time, left him prior to the record's release (as he explains in his letter to the fans), and the last three songs are extremely low key and moody, not in the shit-kicking vein, but more in a "2 AM, where did I go wrong...?" mood. There's a version of Percy Sledge's 1968 crossover hit, "Take Time To Know Her," and to his credit, Coe eliminates the naive soap-opera angle from Sledge's version. Where Sledge comes off like a blind lovesick fool, Coe has more of a defiant edge, like a man who refuses to get burned a second (or third or fourth or...) time. He also reminds you what a killer Soul singer he could be if he wanted to. Oddity of the LP: the keyboards and canned drums of "Ice Ice Cold." Interesting note: I don't know how many thousand have this flaw, but my copy of the LP, instead of having the correct B-side label pasted on, has a Men At Work "Business As Usual" A-side label. (JP)

Castles In The Sand (Columbia 1983)
This is the only DAC album, so far, to make Billboard's Pop album chart (#179). It's nice to think that in the year of Thriller, MTV, synthesizers and leather pants, there was a place for Coe on charts when progressive Country was losing its steam. But does that mean he toned down his schtick for the Eddie Rabbitt crowd? Hell no! What put this album over saleswise was "The Ride," a cryptic Country hit single about an up and coming singer who hitches a ride in a long white Caddy with, who we learn at the end, is Hank Williams' ghost. Leave it to Coe to pull it off, the final line (driver to hitchhiker: "You don't have to call me 'mister,' mister/(booming voice)THE WHOLE WORLD CALLS ME HANK!") sends cold chills every time (especially live). Alan Jackson used the exact same story in his hit from a couple years back "Midnight in Montgomery," and had a pretty big record, though it has none of the power of Coe's. This album is dedicated to Bob Dylan, and his voice keeps shifting between Dylan, Haggard and a fairly popular singer named David Allan Coe, often in the same song. The sequencing is really on: side one starts with three outlaw boasting numbers before going into two Dylan soundalikes, the first being the title track, an open letter to Dylan himself, and the second a version of "You Gotta Serve Somebody" with Lacy J. Dalton. Flip it over and you get "The Ride," closing out the crazy/outlaw segment. Three sensitive ballads follow, one of them "Missin' The Kid," about an absentee daughter(an ex took her away) whom David didn't get to see until she was 19, years after this song was recorded. It closes with "For Lovers Only, Part One," the first segment of a trilogy that would continue over the next coupla LPs. It's a Jimmy Buffett-styled meditation that ends with the spookiest scat singing you'll ever hear. (JP)

Hello In There (Columbia, 1983)
DAC has a pirate look on the back of the album, but it's a good look. This is my least favorite album because it sounds too much like pop music. "For Lovers Only Part 2" is Coe's worst song ever. But the cool artwork makes it worth having. By the way, the license plate on the back cover is where Coe actually lived for a while, Ryskin Cave in Dickson, TN. (DD)

Just Divorced (Columbia, 1984)
An album like this almost makes me understand why highbrows get drawn to Coe. In a way this tapestry of Coe's guts laying out for all to see is comparable to a Scott Walker album, but instead of twisting and transmogrifying music to express his inner workings, Coe just quilts together every existing music stuff he can to get his point across. Sorrowful wailing sad sax (on part three of "For Lover's Only", now taking a sorry twist), happy New Orleans music (on the title track), moody Doo Wop (on the cover of the Jerry Butler/Curtis Mayfield Vee Jay classic "For Your Precious Love," peppy Bluegrass (on "Blue Grass Morning," a pot pun), it's all here. And if the extended letter to the fans, explaining his recent divorce and his recovery, weren't enough, there are more spoken intros and recitations than you can shake divorce papers at. I guess depending on how well this works to you, if it's cohesive or if it's a mess, you could either see him as a genius or a fool. This album also features the lushly orchestrated "Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile," a giant hit for Coe. (JA)

Darlin' Darlin' (Columbia, 1984)
"Darlin' Darlin'" is one of my favorite albums. The ballads that David has done are the bedrock of his career. Over the years, many people started to listen to DAC because of songs like, "You Never Even called Me By My Name," "Longhaired Redneck," or the songs off his "Underground" and "Nothing Sacred" albums. These songs are fine, but his real talents lie in his ability to belt out a love song or some Blues. "Darlin Darlin" features ten songs, several of which had already been recorded by other artists. Many people might say that this is a rip-off, but Coe really brings some great interpretations. My personal favorite is "She's Not You," it has to be one of his most beautiful ever. "Don't Cry Darlin'" features David and his old friend George Jones singing about loving, drinking and living. "My Elusive dreams" is also a personal favorite. Due to my chosen profession I am required to move around a lot, so this song really hits home. This album is the first to feature a complete version of "For Lovers Only." As major changes occurred in David's life he would add verses and chapters to this concept song. This completed version includes all four verses about the trials and tribulations about his love life. In short, if you like David Allan Coe for his soulful songs, this album is for you. (JW)

Unchained (Columbia, 1985)
This album is not the Coe-est of Coe, to say the least. The stock Nashville instrumentation and the all but one non-Coe written songs don't help, but what I really miss is the odd touches he usually brings to a project. No letter to the fans on the sleeve, no name-dropping in the songs, and no recitations, not even before his "Unchained Melody" cover, which begs for some DAC reminiscing or theorizing. The outsider sentiment of "Would They Love Me Down In Shreveport," works, it's a pretty good song. And he gets back to his roots and does some vocal mimicry, paying tribute to the singing style of Neil Young on a version of "Southern Man" (the album is dedicated to Young) and Bob Dylan on "Even and Forever." Production wise he probably should have borrowed more Young and Dylan aesthetics for the rest of the album. (JA)

Son Of The South (Columbia, 1986)
David's letter to his fans on this album explains that though he was born in Ohio he takes pride in his son being born in Nashville. The main selling point is the cover of DAC in glitter cowboy boots resting his toddler son on his knee with a rebel flag as a blanket. What's amazing about the photo is David's hair, the longest I've ever seen it. It looks like Cousin Itt from the Addams family hanging off his head. I read that he had extensions, but only his hairdesser (Belinda, the same one since the 70s!) knows for sure. The music on the record is pretty good. Highlights include surprise Hawaiian slack guitar on "Storms Never Last" (with Willie, Waylon & Jessi), his popular "I've Already Cheated On You' with Willie, and the the great honky-tonkin' title cut, which features Dickie Betts doing the best Dickie Betts impersonation you'll ever hear. It's a real blueprint for a lot of stuff Travis Tritt did later. (JA)

A Matter of Life Or Death (Columbia, 1987)
There is an eerie picture of DACs dead father in his casket on the inner record sleeve. The highlight of this album is "Wild Irish Rose." "Tanya Montana," a song about his daughter, is incidentally the only song of his to have a video. Most of the songs are about his family, and the cover features his baby sleeping on his Coe gear with is Coe hat. Overall, it's a mediocre album. (DD)

Crazy Daddy (Columbia, 1989)
A pretty decent LP. Has the great song, "I've Enjoyed This As much as I Can," and "Actions Speak Louder Than Words," as well as another take on "Jody Like A Melody," which makes sense as he was married to a Jody with four kids at the time.(WT)

1990 Songs For Sale (DAC, 1990)
This is his first of his independently produced and released albums after breaking with CBS. This album shows what a great songwriter Coe is. Every song on this album is great, but the highlights are the opener, "The Ghost Of Hank Williams," a sort of follow up to the ride, with Hank's ghost singing "Your Cheatin' Heart" over and over in an Alabama Graveyard. Coe also laments Patsy, Marty, Lefty and the then closed Ryman. Another good song is, "The Devil Is To Blame." Easily one of his best albums. (DD)

Standing Too Close To The Flame (DAC, 1993)
This was originally titled "Desperate Man" (after a song track on the record) but it was changed at the last minute. Jody Lynn Coe is looking at David's first promo photo on the cover. The soft photography and the low art budget make it look like an independent Christian release, but the music is all Coe. All the songs are good, especially the comical, "Did You Know Elvis," done with Elvis freak Jimmy Velvet, reminiscent of "Bad Impressions. (DD)

Granny's Off Her Rocker (DAC, 1993)
This doesn't have that slick sound we've all gotten used to from Nashville these days. It was released on DAC, David's own label, and certainly didn't have the biggest production budget in the world. What it does have is some of the best examples of spectacular songwriting and singing which has sustained the career of this Country music legend. The best song on the album, "Rings Around Rosie," possesses the playfulness often found in Coe recordings: "Don't mention Rings around Rosie/She wont play that game again/It's gonna take more than posies/For Rosie to trust any man." This clever songwriting is enough to make any writer kick themselves and say, "Why didn't I think of that!!!" The influence of George Jones is evident throughout the record, but never more than on "The Walls In This House Are Too Thin." It is a slow waltz embodying as much heartache as anything Jones has done. It's what you want to play on the jukebox when your drowning your sorrows of a loft love. Several up-tempo tunes, including the title track, are bound to have you out of your seat making up your own two-step moves. There are also a few different styles thrown in. "I Can't Get Over You Getting Over Me" is a flash back to Coe's Key West days, and "The Matador" is a Mexican flavored tune. But enough about the songwriting, lets talk about his voice. It is pure on this album as ever. Often on the road Coe's voice is solid, but takes on a different character against electric guitars, amplification and the rigors of touring. This album strips all of that away and the result is pure Coe. The bottom line is that I was shocked at how great all of these songs were. This album outdoes many of his records released in his major label prime during the 70s and early 80s, and is a definite must in any fan's collection. (RF)

Living On The Edge (DAC, 1996)
Concept album released before, but definitely recognizing the inevitability, of the departure of his most recent wife. The first song is fairly upbeat but on song #2 he slows it down and stays that way for the rest of the album. While a keyboard drones on in the background, Coe misses his lady up front, and occasionally adds sound effects (rain storms, train sounds, a phone that rings eleven times before a woman's voice answers) for extra drama, like it was a Mickey Newbury album or something. DAC gives it the best review on the cover: "This album will either cause or cure depression - your choice!" (JP)

David Allan Coe: LIVE - If That Ain't Country (Lucky Dog/Sony, 1997)
What can I say? I had this record for a week prior to the House of Blues gig, and by showtime as soon as he hit the opening chords of "Talking To The Blues," or "If That Ain't Country," I was happy as a pig in shit. This is a feel-good party from start to finish. The rowdy Fort Worth audience yells in the right spots, he refers to himself in the third person a zillion times, drops other artist's names just as often, and he makes the simplest song lyric sound like the Truth of the Ages. After a few listens I went around for a week singing, "If that ain't Country, I'll kiss your ass..." One of the best live C&W albums since "Johnny Cash at Folsum Prison." (JP)

Greatest Hits (Columbia, 1978)
Encore (Columbia, 1981)
Biggest Hits (Columbia, 1982)
For The Record: The First 10 Years (Columbia, 1984)
Super Hits/Super Hits Vol 2 (Columbia, 1993/1996)
Well, avoiding the countless truckstop cassettes and CDs listed below, DAC is represented by a whole lotta "Best Of" type records, and if you're a new or would-be fan looking for a sampler this isn't a bad route to take. However choosing the best of the "Best Of"s is a tricky game. "Greatest Hits" is a pretty good bet. The cover features one of the handsomest DAC photos, with his hair medium length and his beard trimmed exquisitely, and I think DAC concurs because a similar snap from the same session was used on the cover of his first three books, and on every page of his poetry book! Everything on it is great, but he still had some big hits ahead of him. "Encore" has all different cuts, (except "You Never Even Called Me By My Name" is repeated) and features (alcoholic) crowd pleasers "Jack Daniels If You Please" and "This Bottle (In My Hand)." The 1982 "Biggest Hit," isn't very honestly titled, but 1984's "For The Record," a double LP with his two huge later hits, "Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile" and "The Ride," really covers some ground and I guess is the one if you want a mess of hits. The two recent Columbia CDs also feature all the big hits, and have a wider range ("Son Of The South" is on Vol 2). (JA)

Longhorn Jamboree presents Willie Nelson and his Friends (Plantation, 1977) (also Texas Moon, 1977, Willie and David, 1979, Willie and David, 1983, and I think one called Cowboys, 1980, also fall into this category)
Shelby Singleton had the rights to early recordings of DAC and other prominent musicians, and after they hit bigger he would repackage them into knockoff packages. Earlier issues of these songs feature Willie extremely prominently in the cover art, but eventually they present David just as big. Sometimes the Willie to David quotient is pretty low. "Long Horn Jamboree" is the best, first and hardest to find of these. You can't go wrong with the lineup of DAC, Willie, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Coe does "Mississippi Woman" and "West Virginia Man," both of which later appeared on the "Buckstone County Prison" soundtrack. The '83 "Willie and David" has DAC doing "Ride Me Down Easy," "Got You On My Mind," and "Why Me Lord" as well as his gem "Fuzzy Was An Outlaw." You can find this, and some of the others, at truckstops, and it's usually a three dollar cassette these days!(DD, WT)

All American Cowboys, The Best Of (Pair), Best Of The Best (Federal), David Allan Coe (Columbia), David Allan Coe and Johnny Paycheck (King), Early Sessions, Ghost Of Hank Willams (King), Headed For The Country (Columbia), The Hits Of David Allan Coe, Lonesome Fugitive (King), Or Else!, Original Outlaw (Sun), Outlaws-Willie and David (ARC), Paycheck and David (Plantation), The Perfect Country and Western Song (King), 17 Greatest Hits, Stars 1994 (PKC), Truckers Hits vol. 2, Truckin' Outlaw (King), 20 Greatest Hits (TeeVee), 20 Road Music Hits (Teevee), Why Me (Plantation)
In Defense of Truckstop Tapes by Bosco
My first contact with DAC came in the mid-seventies, with my father's purchase of "Longhaired Redneck." My dad had gone on a C&W bender the couple of years previous and moved us to Iowa so he could work on a ranch and learn to ride on the pro rodeo circuit. That's a story for another day. The story now concerns his bringing home that fateful album. Fateful, hell yes, it caused many changes in me during my teen years that have carried over until today.
After hearing the strains of LHR come out of the family stereo, how could I listen to the crap my friends were listening to seriously? I mean, I would go to school and people around me were listening to the Beatles and shit like Supertramp. Had any of these bands had to endure hardships and suffering like DAC? Hell no. Forget the gloom and doom crap of the early eighties, this is what teen angst should have been fueled by. This was the perfect stuff to make a rebellious kid realize that he didn't have to conform to society's ideals in order to live day to day, it could be done in your own way and let you look in the mirror every day and know that you were being true to yourself.
To this day I try to turn every one on to the messages within the man's music. I spend most of my summers traveling around the country in a van full of either hippies or Rock&Roll guys as we vend merch on various concert tours. I fortunately/unfortunately am usually the driver for these long assed hauls. Unfortunately because it sucks to drive so much on no sleep and a full days work. Fortunately because I get to play all the music I want. I NEVER pass up the cassette rack at the truck stops we fuel in, because you ALWAYS find a DAC tape on the rack.
Most often when you are at the rack you'll find David's various track compilations. Now with a songwriter like David you get many compilation possibilities. The tracks on almost every comp are: "You Never Even Called Me By My Name," "Tennessee Whiskey," "Jody Like A Melody," "Would You lay With Me...," and if you're lucky, "Son of the South." Now the beauty of me playing this music all the time in the van is that invariably one of my crew will want to take one of the tapes after the tour; a new DAC convert!
Some of the titles that have not been stolen after tours have been 17 Greatest Hits, Best of DAC, Perfect Country & Western Song, and Truckers Hits Vol. 2. All these are pretty interchangeable as to their track listings and such, but if you pluck down the extra buck you usually can get a tape with more than 7 or 8 songs on it. The King tapes are newly re-recorded versions, but they're still good. Some of those have themes, like all Hank Williams covers, so there are songs he's never recorded before on them.
Go pick some DAC up and hook yourself up with songwriting to make you grow. (B)

VARIOUS ARTISTS/COMPILATIONS/GUEST APPEARANCES WITH COE: Banded Together (Epic, 1979), Country Greats (CBS, 1984), Cowboys, Deep Thoughts From A Shallow Mind (BMG, 1994), Hank Williams You Wrote My Life (K-Tel 1995) John R. Cash (Columbia, 1975), The Outsiders soundtrack, Take This Job And Shove It soundtrack (Epic, 1981)
Some of these are worth noting. "Banded Together" is a run of the mill Outlaw Country album with Cash, Willie, Paycheck, Jones, Charlie Daniels and Coe, his "Willie Waylon and Me," is the most interesting song on the slbum. Doug Supernaw's "Deep Thoughts..." album features a version of "You Never Even Called Me By My Name," with guest appearances by DAC, Waylon, Charlie Pride and Merle Haggard. The rest of the album pales in comparison. The K-Tel Hank album features "The Ride," and actually spells his middle name right. DAC and Johnny duet on "Cocaine Carolina" on "John R. Cash." The Outsiders soundtrack has "Jack Daniel's If You Please" on it. "Take This Job..." soundtrack is a great album. It features Johnny Paycheck's version of Coe's title song. Also it has Coe singing "I Love Robbing Banks," co-written with Guy Clark, and "You Can Count On Beer." He performs both songs as a bar band lead singer in the movie. The "Country Greats" LP is only three songs different then the "Take This Job..." soundtrack. All the songs are about beer, including Dave's. (DD)

Other movies Dave has been in (in addition to "Buckstone..." and "Take This Job...") are "The Last Days Of Frank and Jesse James," with the other Outlaws, "Lady Gray and The Living Legend," with Ginger Alden, Elvis' last girlfriend (the latter about Elvis), a "Stagecoach" remake, and a great 1975 documentary, "Heartworn Highways."

Also, some of the Columbia LPs are being released two on a CD with new notes by Bear Family in Germany. And the Canadian and US versions of "Headed For The Country" and "Encore" are both slightly different. Happy hunting!