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Room Full of Fools

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Album Review

The result of his first recording sessions in the U.S., Room Full of Fools offers more of what we've come to expect from Coyne: anguished, sometimes verging-on-deranged narratives of life's underside. This is territory that's been mined far more in the 1980s and 1990s than it was when Coyne came to prominence in the 1970s, so you could view this as a statement from an elder statesman of the style, or something that's bound to sound less fresh than it did earlier in his career. Coyne does retain his ability to convey angst with more sincerity and humor, albeit very dark humor, than most such practitioners. It's harder-rocking than usual, which works to its disadvantage more often than not; the full blues-rock arrangements just sound too conventional in juxtaposition with Coyne's far from ordinary voice and lyrics. When he slows it down for something more acoustic and even bluesier, or the swirling organ comes more to the fore, his restrained rantings find a more suitable context. Subject-wise, Coyne casts his net over material that's run-of-the-mill for him, but not to be found in the work of many popular music singers: uncertain mental stability, incorrigible boys, and the mundane irritations of not-so-happy lives. That's balanced by some warped optimism and romantic longing, like a man who's down for a count but keeps managing to rise for more battering. It's idiosyncratic and heartfelt stuff, but apt to make any listener caught in the wrong mood feel as irritated and agitated as the mental landscape of his compositions.


Born: January 27, 1944 in Derby, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s

Many singer/songwriters have been more heralded, but few produced more good work or did so for longer than Kevin Coyne. While virtually unknown in America, Coyne released dozens of records, most of them very good, that dealt primarily with outsiders: men, women, and children arbitrarily shunted to the fringes of society, or worse, locked away and left alone. His songs could be extraordinarily compassionate and, in the blink of an eye, angry, anguished, and accusatory. Perhaps the most durable and...
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Room Full of Fools, Kevin Coyne
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