Review: A Revealing Work From a Rebel with Real Cause David Allan Coe

David Allan Coe/Live from The Ironhorse: Biketoberfest ’01/Cleveland International Records 
4.5 out of Five stars

Videos by American Songwriter

There are plenty of ways to describe David Allan Coe. He could legitimately be considered a legend based on his rowdy reputation as one of country music’s original outlaws and unrepentant renegades. He’s also a surly curmudgeon, an intimidating individual that you wouldn’t want to cross, either in a darkened alley or in the bright light of a boisterous bar. I’m a redneck, a son of the south, he declares on the second song of this re-released live set recorded in 2001 at the Iron Horse Saloon in Daytona Beach, Florida. Opening track “I’m an Ohio Boy” sets the tone, a decidedly determined statement of passion and purpose that serves to affirm his wild and reckless ways.

Indeed, Coe’s edgy, unapologetic attitude is further defined in several of these songs, especially when it comes to “Nothing To Lose” and “When I Was a Young Man,” two of the more essential additives that make up this electrifying concert collection. The album also boasts two of the three huge hits that brought him into the musical mainstream—“You Never Even Called Me By Name” and, most famously, “Take This Job and Shove It”—but in fact every offering affirms a  gruff, no-nonsense attitude that’s never hindered by apology or pretension. Of course it wouldn’t be surprising to find Coe under the influence of some alcoholic inducement, but then again, that only adds to the authenticity. 

If that ain’t country, I’ll kiss your ass, Coe declares at one point while the crowd willingly sings along. He makes it clear that he’s a populist provocateur, one whose redneck resolve provides him with a clear connection to the crowd. Downtrodden narratives such as “Single Father,” “When I was a Young Man” and “Drank My Wife Away” find him confessing his sins in full view and revisiting his past, a hardbitten history that includes a stint served in prison, his bouts with desperation and disappointment, and the harrowing happenstance that he appears to have tied to every step of the way. 

Released on vinyl, Live from The Ironhorse: Biketoberfest ’01 is an authentic offering from an unapologetic artist who’s clearly capable of enticing an audience into embracing his antisocial attitude. This blast from the past retains some prime potency.

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