God bless the ones who don’t fit anywhere. Kevin Coyne’s son Eugene puts it best when describing the uniquely quixotic allure of his late father “drawing on the Delta blues and Derby, George Formby and John Lee Hooker”.
Nobody Dies In Dreamland finds Coyne hunched over a reel-to-reel tape recorder in a rented flat in Clapham, bashing out 19 songs on his open-tuned acoustic prior to the December 1972 release of his solo debut album, Case History. The sound quality, while perfectly acceptable, is therefore hardly state-of-the-art: but neither is that even a consideration. Where Coyne’s bruised, bristling songs are concerned, the more primitive the recording medium the better.
Formative versions of Now That I Am Getting Old (Need Somebody), Uggy’s Song and Evil Island Home are as gaunt and shivering as anything Robert Johnson ever contrived with a hellhound snapping at his hems, while a combination of Coyne’s harmonica and that incredible voice pretty much blasts the condenser mic apart on Baby Man. Sleepwalking is a bleak resumé of the special miseries of a stultifying routine, while Mean Molecatcher Man prowls the Northern Line to disquieting effect. In a parallel universe, Status Quo covered One More Drink and the royalties kept Coyne in clover forever after.