Kevin Coyne – Millionaires And Teddy Bears (1979)

FrontCover1Kevin Coyne’s seventh studio solo album, and his second in less than a year (following the itchy Dynamite Daze) was very much recorded in the shadow of recent developments in the new wave field. Heavily atmospheric but brutally sparse, it contains some of Coyne’s most discomforting latter-day work, beginning with the brief ambience-and-chant rail of the opening “People,” which bleeds directly into “Having a Party”; truly one of the most caustic numbers in his entire catalog. A savage indictment of the music industry (the album’s title is lifted from its lyric), “Having a Party” places our hero at a record company soiree, discussing his future career with the label bigwigs, and finding himself backed into such a corner that, when asked which of the myriad gold discs on the wall is his, “I had to confess I hadn’t got one….” (As an intriguing aside, live recordings of the song from the following year find it taking on even greater weight, as Coyne inserts the recent death of one of his Virgin Records labelmates into the lyric — “you have to be rough and tough and tough and rough if you want to be a pop star — like Sid Vicious”). Such bleakness is, of course, readily dispelled as the album moves on. “I’ll Go Too” (simultaneously issued as a 45) packs a breezy arrangement and as compelling a chorus as any previous Coyne classic, while “Pretty Park” has a lascivious snarl and a barrelhouse boom that echoes the mighty “Eastbourne Ladies.” Elsewhere, the so-tender “Marigold,” the bombastic “Let Me Be With You,” and the heartbreaking “Wendy’s Dream” are all vital additions to the Coyne repertoire, and though it’s true that Side One of the album is considerably stronger than Side Two, still Millionaires & Teddy Bears rates high in any poll of Coyne’s finest records. (by Dave Thompson)

Kevin Coyne (vocals, guitar)
Al James (bass)
Vic Sweeney (drums)
Bob Ward (guitar)
Paul Wickens (keyboards, drums, accordion)

01. People (Coyne/Ward) 3.21
02. Having A Party (Coyne) 4.20
03. I’ll Go Too (Coyne) 3.30
04. I’m Just A Man (Coyne) 3.35
05. Pretty Park (Coyne) 5.35
06. Let Me Be With You (Coyne)   3:38
07. Marigold (Coyne) 3.12
08. Don’t Blame Mandy (Coyne) 2.57
09. Little Miss Portobello (Coyne) 3.48
10. Wendy’s Dream (Coyne) 4.05
11. The World Is Full Of Fools (Coyne/Ward) 3.10