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David Allan Coe

Live! If That Ain't Country... – 1997 (Lucky Dog)

Reviewed by Joel Bernstein

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CDs by David Allan Coe

When Sony created an "alternative country" label and announced Coe as the first signing, hoots of derision were heard from the people who think the genre was invented by Uncle Tupelo. A guy who had some huge hit singles in the seventies, and wrote "Take This Job And Shove It," could only be considered 'alternative' by a major corporation out of touch with reality.

The truth is that if anyone can lay claim to "inventing" alternative country, it's David Allan Coe. His small commercial success is a tribute to a greater openness at radio back then. Coe's albums have always meandered across the musical map, and his own behavior has been equally bizarre. This new album is actually more commercialized than most of his output, simply because it contains versions of his most famous songs. Coe's voice is a little deeper, but otherwise he's the same wild man, wandering through country, southern rock, blues and whatever.

Coe's first live album suffers from generic flaws - an audience whose noisiness can be irritating, and a singer only too happy to let the audience sing his punchlines. Although the album is interesting, it actually has fewer surprises than most of Coe's studio output.