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The Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy Returns: Raven Collects David Allan Coe Albums

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Mysterious David Allan CoeIf “outlaw country” has a face, it’s likely that of David Allan Coe. Though many have been associated with the rabble-rousing, convention-defying, honky tonk-embracing genre, including Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard, Coe has been a perennial “bad boy” since bursting onto the music scene in the late 1960s fresh out of prison. In fact, many attribute the term “outlaw country” itself to Coe, who was a member of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club and certainly lived his life on the edge. (Waylon Jennings could also stake a claim to the phrase, having recorded Lee Clayton’s song “Ladies Love Outlaws” in 1972 and furthering the notion of country singers bucking the slick, sweetened Nashville Sound trend in favor of rootsy, raw, and rough-and-tumble music.) Australia’s Raven Records label has collected eight of Coe’s earliest major-label albums, all released on Columbia Records between 1974 and 1979, on two 2-CD sets containing four albums apiece.

The Mysterious David Allan Coe brings together Coe’s first four long-players for Columbia: The Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy (1974), Once Upon a Rhyme (1975), Longhaired Redneck (1976) and Rides Again (1977). The title of his Columbia debut was derived from his outrageous, masked onstage get-up, and predated Glen Campbell’s 1975 pop hit “Rhinestone Cowboy.” On the set produced by Ron Bledsoe (a Nashville vet with credits ranging from Vikki Carr to Ray Price), Coe featured his own songs alongside traditionals and those composed by Mickey Newbury, Guy Clark and others.   Heavily inspired by the back-to-basics approach of Merle Haggard and his Bakersfield, CA kin, Coe took an artistic leap forward with his sophomore LP, Once Upon a Rhyme. The album featured his own version of his song “Would You Lie with Me (In a Field of Stone)” which Tanya Tucker had already taken to No.1 Country. It kicked off Side One’s set of Coe originals; the second side was ceded to covers from sources both likely (Texan singer-songwriter Richard Dobson) and unlikely (Tom Jans and pop hitmaker Jeff Barry). But the album’s most enduring track was its closer. “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” was purloined from an album by Steve Goodman, who originally co-wrote it with another folk hero, John Prine. But Coe inserted himself into the satirical final verse with a delicious, country-spoofing twist. He was rewarded with his first Top 10 C&W single; the LP also placed among the Top 10 C&W Albums.

The title song to 1976’s Longhaired Redneck made the C&W Top 20. Written by Coe with Jimmy Rabbitt, it featured him making direct reference to the outlaw movement of which he was now a major part, as well as paying homage to Haggard, Ernest Tubb and “Whisperin’” Bill Anderson. The prolific artist followed Redneck, on which he wrote or co-wrote every track, the next year with Rides Again. Its opening track and single, “Willie, Waylon and Me,” again found Coe addressing the company he was keeping. He also name-checked country-rockers The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers and The Eagles as well as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Janis Joplin in the No. 25-charting single. On Rides Again, his songwriting also took precedence, and he had a credit on every track except for the cover of Donnie Murphy’s “Laid Back and Wasted.”

Raven’s collection features new liner notes from Keith Glass and remastering from Warren Barnett. It adds five bonus tracks: the non-LP sides “(If I Could Climb) The Walls of the Bottle” and “Please Come to Boston” as well as two songs from 1977’s Tattoo and two more from 1978’s Family Album including “Take This Job and Shove It” which became a smash hit for Johnny Paycheck. However, those albums can be heard in full on Raven’s next collection.  Hit the jump for much more!

Illustrated David Allan CoeThe Illustrated David Allan Coe picks up where its predecessor left off, with four more Columbia albums: the aforementioned Tattoo and Family Album, plus Human Emotions (1978) and Spectrum VII (1979). Tattoo, a strong collection of raw honky-tonk ballads with the expected themes of lovin’ and cheatin’, returned Coe to the Mickey Newbury songbook with “San Francisco Mabel Joy.” Coe also teamed with Louisiana music legend Bobby Charles to co-write “You’ll Always Live Inside Me.” Tattoo, placing at No. 38, would be the last of his Top 40 Country albums until 1983.

Family Album was highlighted by Coe’s reclamation of “Take This Job and Shove It,” which Johnny Paycheck took to No. 1 Country in 1977. Reportedly irked at Paycheck for failing to give Coe his recognition as songwriter, Coe took a shot at Johnny in the rewritten lyrics for his recording. His liner notes to the album also proclaimed that he was happy and content, and that “although the Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy may be dead, David Allan Coe is very much alive.” (He also dedicated the album to his two mothers, elucidating his Mormon heritage.) Liner note strangeness aside, famed Nashville producer Billy Sherrill came onboard to join Ron Bledsoe at the helm for this album of classic-styled material including one song co-written by Coe and George Jones, “Whole Lot of Lonesome.”

Sherrill continued to subtly shift Coe’s music to a more commercial direction on Human Emotions, dedicated to his ex-wife. The first side began with a re-recording of “Would You Lie with Me (In a Field of Stone),” kicking off “The Happy Side.” This side included “Divers Do It Deeper,” the song which sparked a feud between Coe and Jimmy Buffett when the latter noticed a melodic similarity to his own “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.” (Coe responded by attacking Buffett on his privately-pressed, profane LP Nothing Sacred.) Side Two of the LP was the punningly-titled “Sui-Side.” Coe’s notes were again bizarre and personal, addressed to the ex-Mrs. Coe. (Sample: “P.S. Give my love to our daughter. THIS LOVE IS DEAD.”) Despite the surrounding darkness, Human Emotions introduced two soon-to-be outlaw country anthems: “Whiskey and Women” and “Jack Daniels, If You Please.” The final album on Raven’s set is Spectrum VII, as light as Human Emotions was dark. It was divided into the “Land Side” and “Ocean Side.” Opening track “Rollin’ with the Punches” was dedicated to Bob Dylan, while “Sudden Death” bore a dedication to Meat Loaf and his Cleveland International label boss, Steve Popovich. “On My Feet Again” was an autobiographical account in waltz time of Coe’s recent troubles, and “Now’s the Time (To Fall in Love)” and “Fairytale Morning” showcased his warm-hearted side. A Buffett-esque sound is again evident on Spectrum; the two artists were likely drawing on the same influences.

Raven’s set includes one bonus track, “Loving Her (Will Make You Lose Your Mind),” from another 1979 Columbia album, Compass Point. Perhaps the entirety of the album will feature on a future group of Coe albums from Raven. The Illustrated David Allan Coe has been remastered by Warren Barnett and includes a brief introductory note from the set’s co-producer Ian McFarlane as well as reprints of Coe’s liner notes for the four albums.

Both David Allan Coe collections are available now from Raven Records, and can be ordered at the links below!

David Allan Coe, The Mysterious David Allan Coe (Raven RVCD-371, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

CD 1:

  1. A Sad Country Song
  2. Crazy Mary
  3. River
  4. The 33rd of August
  5. Bossier City
  6. Atlanta Song
  7. Old Man Tell Me
  8. Desperados Waiting for the Trani
  9. I Still Sing the Old Songs
  10. The Old Grey Goose is Dead
  11. Would You Lay with Me (In a Field of Stone)
  12. Jody Like a Melody
  13. Loneliness in Ruby’s Eyes
  14. Would You Be My Lady
  15. Sweet Vibrations (Some Folks Call It Love)
  16. Another Pretty Country Song
  17. Piece of Wood and Steel
  18. Fraulein
  19. Shine It On
  20. You Never Even Called Me By My Name
  21. (If I Could Climb) The Walls of the Bottle

CD 2:

  1. Longhaired Redneck
  2. When She’s Got Me (Where She Wants Me)
  3. Revenge
  4. Texas Lullaby
  5. Living on the Run
  6. Family Reunion
  7. Rock and Roll Holiday
  8. Free Born Rambling Man
  9. Spotlight
  10. Dakota the Dancing Bear, Part 2
  11. Willie, Waylon and Me
  12. The House We’ve Been Calling a Home
  13. Young Dallas Cowboy
  14. A Sense of Humor
  15. The Punkin Center Barn Dance
  16. Willie, Waylon and Me (Reprise)
  17. Lately I’ve Been Thinking Too Much Lately
  18. Laid Back and Wasted
  19. Under Rachel’s Wings
  20. Greener Than the Grass We Laid On
  21. If That Ain’t Country
  22. Please Come to Boston
  23. Just to Prove My Love for You
  24. Face to Face
  25. Million Dollar Memories
  26. Take This Job and Shove It

CD 1, Tracks 1-10 from The Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy, Columbia LP KC 32942, 1974
CD 1, Tracks 11-20 from Once Upon a Rhyme, Columbia LP KC 33085, 1975
CD 1, Track 21 from Columbia single 3-10024, 1974
CD 2, Tracks 1-10 from Longhaired Redneck, Columbia LP KC 33916, 1976
CD 2, Tracks 11-21 from Rides Again, Columbia LP KC 34310, 1977
CD 2, Track 22 from Columbia single 3-10395, 1974
CD 2, Tracks 23-24 from Tattoo, Columbia LP PC 34870, 1977
CD 2, Tracks 25-26 from Family Album, Columbia LP KC 35306, 1978

David Allan Coe, The Illustrated David Allan Coe (Raven RVCD-378, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

CD 1:

  1. Just to Prove My Love for You
  2. Face to Face
  3. You’ll Always Live Inside of Me
  4. Play Me a Sad Song
  5. Daddy Was a God-Fearin’ Man
  6. Canteen of Water
  7. Maria is a Mystery
  8. Just in Time (To Watch Love Die)
  9. San Francisco Mabel Joy
  10. Hey Gypsy
  11. Family Album
  12. Million Dollar Memories
  13. Divers Do It Deeper
  14. Guilty Footsteps
  15. Take This Job and Shove It
  16. Houston, Dallas, San Antone
  17. I’ve Got to Have You
  18. Whole Lot of Lonesome
  19. Bad Impressions
  20. Heavenly Father, Holy Mother

CD 2:

  1. Would You Lay with Me (In a Field of Stone)
  2. If This Is Just a Game
  3. You Can Count on Me
  4. Mississippi River Queen
  5. Tomorrow is Another Day
  6. Human Emotions
  7. (She Finally Crossed Over) Love’s Cheatin’ Line
  8. Whiskey and Women
  9. Jack Daniels, If You Please
  10. Suicide
  11. Rollin’ with the Punches
  12. On My Feet Again
  13. Fall in Love with You
  14. What Can I Do
  15. Sudden Death
  16. Fairytale Morning
  17. Seven Mile Bridge
  18. Now’s the Time (To Fall in Love)
  19. Love is Just a Porpoise (Playing in the Tropical Sun)
  20. Loving Her (Will Make You Lose Your Mind)

CD 1, Tracks 1-10 from Tattoo, Columbia LP 34870, 1977
CD 1, Tracks 11-20 from Family Album, Columbia LP 35306, 1978
CD 2, Tracks 1-10 from Human Emotions, Columbia LP 35535, 1978
CD 2, Tracks 11-19 from Spectrum VII, Columbia LP 35789, 1979
CD 2, Track 20 from Compass Point, Columbia LP 36277, 1979

Written by Joe Marchese

June 26, 2014 at 14:18

2 Responses

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  1. Great post. Glad to see his music getting a second chance- that’s REAL outlaw country there! I have a cassette of “Nothing Sacred”
    Now if only Chinga Chavin could get a compilation on that label….


    June 26, 2014 at 16:03

  2. I already have Raven’s “The Mysterious . . .” and I just ordered “The Illustrated . . . .” I discovered Coe about 10 years ago and stumbled upon Billy Joe Shaver shortly after, and have been listening to their music regularly ever since. Those two guys deserve all the accolades they receive, and more. They lived the life, but they were, and are, astute enough songwriters to chronicle their personal experiences in a way that both detailed the lifestyle and transcended it.

    Chief Brody

    June 27, 2014 at 09:45

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