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Siren: Strange Locomotion

Track List

>Relaxing With Bonnie Lou
>Some Dark Day
>Hot Potato
>I'm All Aching
>Strange Locomotion
>Shake My Hand
>Lonesome Ride
>Fetch Me My Woman
>Fat Moaning Minnie
>Squeeze Me
>Lillian [US-Only Album Track]
>Stride 2, The
>Hot Potato [Alternative Version]
>Soon [Radio Version]
>Why, Why, Why
>Whole Lotta Shaking
>Trouble In Mind
>Blues Before Sunrise
>I Need You
>John the Baptist
>Lunatic Laughs, The
>Big Pistol Momma
>Start Walking
>Let's Dance
>Forked Lightning
>Wait Until Dark
>Like an Angel
>Our Jack

Album Notes

Given all that Kevin Coyne went on to achieve in his own right, his apprenticeship in Siren remains just that, a learning curve that brought out only occasional flashes of his later acerbity, while the band blues-boogied along behind him. But what flashes they are, from the effortless churn of "Relaxing With Bonnie Lou," with its invocation of Coyne's later "Eastbourne Ladies" shamelessly doing the can-can behind it, to the Stax-y soul of the title track, an R&B shouter in everything but the R&B. And the shouting. Both are models to which the singer would eventually return, but it's the all-but-unaccompanied "Some Dark Day" and the slurring folk of "Soon" that best pinpoint Coyne's solo ambitions, with the suggestion that his cracked tone and twisted vision need nothing more than the most spartan accompaniment to drive their point home. Indeed, the occasions when the rest of the band does stretch out -- the (possibly overlong) seven-minute "Fetch Me My Woman," for example -- effectively sideline Coyne altogether, as Mick Gratton's guitar chases the quaalude rhythm and the singer simply yowls around him. "Squeeze Me," meanwhile, closes the album with the kind of heads-down rock'n'rave routine that probably went down fabulously in concert, but quickly wears out its welcome on wax. The majority of the album's deficiencies, however, are those detected only after years spent listening to Coyne's later work. Placed in the context of its time, in a world where Led Zeppelin had already taken the post-blues boom as far as it could go, Strange Locomotion at least flags a few interesting side roads and makes a couple of dark diversions as well. The U.S. edition, incidentally, drops "Gigolo" and "Fat Moaning Minnie" in favor of "Lillian" and, for who knows what reasons, the 1969 Coyne/Dave Clague "here's a new dance you can do" single, "The Stride." It stands out from its surroundings like an extremely sore thumb, but does save you hunting down the original 45. ~ Dave Thompson


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