Kevin Coyne albums
Marjory Razorblade – (5 / 5)
Few albums are as confident and as original as Kevin Coyne’s debut, double album statement Marjory Razorblade (that is mar-jor-ey, like the woman’s name). The album is a mix of styles, a mix of philosophies on how to make music, and a mix of musical genres. The one consistency the album has even upon first listen, is song quality – though there are 20 songs and the album is about 75 minutes long, each original song is something that is amazing to behold. It is sequenced well, there are songs that make you laugh (“Karate King “ comes to mind with it’s lyrics of “chop chop”) songs that make you ponder about reality (the contemplative “Talking to No One”), and songs that go straight for your emotions (“Jackie and Edna” has a chorus for the ages and “Lonesome Valley” puts the listener in Coyne’s hometown physically). There are songs that pull off clever instrumental tricks such as the guitar harmonics in “Everybody Says” or the goofy, Captain Beefheart throwback “Good Boy” with its sloppy guitar and nonsense structure.
Sonically, the album is an early lo-fi classic, as you realize that perhaps another pass could have been taken at a vocal or an acoustic guitar tuning, but in a way that would negate the records peculiar charm. Coyne sings like a blues brawler at times and a Van Morrison or Randy Newman-esque folk singer at others, but the point is he excels at all of them and could easy make a profitable career off of only doing more classic rock n roll type tunes; just take one listen to the jaunty “Marlene”, the loveable “Eastbound Ladies”, the clever ketch of “Chicken Wing”, and the lamenting “Old Soldier”. Instead, we get all of those tunes plus the eccentric ones and trust me, the eccentric ones make all the difference. “Mommy” blows the pants off of every rocker than came before it, rivaling the best of The Rolling Stones’ early 70’s era albums; “House on the Hill” is good enough to be a top 40 single even today; the title track is quirky enough that Coyne basically invents his own genre of bizarre a capella. Marjory Razorblade is a classic album for sure and even though its length and eccentric nature keep it from normal people’s ears, any lover of music should seek it out if they are serious about great albums.
Greatest Songs: Jackie and Edna, Mummy, Talking to No One, Eastbound Ladies, House on the Hill
Sidenote: for now, I have only reviewed Coyne’s most critically acclaimed album. There are many others after this I have yet to hear, and many are hard to find even in the digital age.