Kevin Coyne's health
was fading fast when he made his final appearance on DJ Andy Kershaw's
BBC show in November 2004, and less than a month later, he'd be gone.
But the performance is such classic Coyne, with that old corncrake voice
neither changed nor ravaged by the years, that it could have been recorded
at any point in the past 30 years, and there's probably no greater tribute
one could pay than that.
"I Hear Voices," "Dark Dancehall" and "Weirdo" are delivered on acoustic guitar alone, and touching, too, are the few words he delivers in praise of the recently deceased John Peel, a crucial figure throughout much of Coyne's career.
The earliest, 1999, session is equally startling, with Coyne backed by a full band, a guitar (courtesy of his son Robert) that sounds like a roomful of angry insects, and a raw, roaring sound that justifies every last song of praise sung by Kershaw by way of introduction. "Bird Brain" and "My Wife's Best Friend" precede Coyne's confession that he's "more restless now than I've ever been"; the Carter Family's "Lonesome Valley," "Lunatic" and a dynamic "Happy Little Fat Man" follow it.
Finally, the 2002 outing captures Coyne and Brendan Croker side by side, and includes "Looking from My Window" and "I Want To Sit With The Girls," among others it's not quite as revelatory as the performances that surround it (a fate that also consumed the album they cut together), but it wraps things up nicely and, quite frankly, no Coyne fan should be without this collection. - Dave Thompson
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