WHISPERS FROM THE OFFING - A TRIBUTE TO KEVIN COYNE (march 2007) - Comments and reviews



Here's some comments on this great tribute cd by the artists who contributed:

Chris Connelly: "A tribute to one of my favoutite singer/songwriters Kevin Coyne called "Whispers from the Offing" is now available from My contribution is the song "Looking for the river" which I think is one of the saddest & most beautiful songs he ever wrote, all the proceeds go to charity, so it's well worthwhile."

Kevin Hewick: "On track 7, I do 'Raindrops on the Window', recorded in June last year, a lovely song Kevin wrote with Heinz Rudolf Kunze who is himself also featured on this compilation. I was lucky enough to support Kevin twice at Derby Wherehouse and Leicester Princess Charlotte...and saw him do a superb show the next night at Loughborough Swan in the Rushes where he repeated not a single item from the night before! I asked him if he ever played 'Raindrops on the Window' live and he said no, he thought it was "the worst track on the album" (Wild Tiger Love)...but I got the feeling this would have been his answer to any track I'd have suggested! So it had to be the one I did for this project... He also confirmed to me the amazing story about The Doors considering him as a replacement for Jim Morrison - not so far fetched if you compare Jim's final outing with them 'LA Woman' and Coyne's raw vocal prowess with Siren and his early solo work on Virgin records."

Grae J Wall: "Wowwwwwwwww! Just listened to the whole album, and I'm so impressed. It's incredibly rare to find a 22 track album and love every track. Obviously the source material is bril which helps alot!!! - Well done all!"

VŽronique Acoustique: "The album is really good the quality of the artists and their recordings is amazing."

Also, tthis from another artist: "The Kevin Coyne tribute album is really fantastic! Best tribute album I've ever heard" Jeffrey Lewis


Press reviews:

Famous Coyne specialist Karl Bruckmaier gives 3 out of 6 stars to the tribute. "Shows how good the songs are".

Record Collector, May 2007

The cd gets 5 stars and is voted CD of the month in Plärer, Nuremberg mag! Here's a translation by Goodie: "Have you got a short musical memory? This is not at all valid for Kevin Coyne who died in December 2004. The well-known Scottish songwriter Jackie Leven has dedicated a song to him on his new CD (plŠrrer 5/2007), and this song is also on the present tribute CD. Nikki Sudden, Chris Connelly, Joey Stack, Leo OÕKelly, Goldfish, Razz, Nigel Burch, Kevin Hewick, Pascal Regis, and even Heinz Rudolf Kunze with ŅVictoria smilesÓ are represented on this great CD, so as to pay Kevin Coyne musical tribute. The project originated within the scope of a project of the London Maudsley hospital, a clinic for mental illnesses, and all profits from this CD will go to therapeutic projects. 22 songs, most of them composed by Coyne, form a dazzling, multi-faceted and also inscrutable spectrum of the outsider musician, played by 22 interpreters without exception with  their heart and soul."

From Nuernberger Nachrichten

From Southwark Mind Newsletter

From FrŠnkische Nacht, a free magazine from Bamberg, Germany

From Mental Health Today, July 2007, an interview by Frank Bangay

From Is This Music, Aug 07

Incredible review in French mag Crossroads! (#57, Sep 07) (rough translation here)

Derby Evening Telegraph:
by Sarah Whelan, 14 June 2007
A Charity CD has been released in memory of a Derby songwriter who turned down an offer to replace Jim Morrison as lead singer of The Doors.
Kevin Coyne, a songwriter, guitarist, painter, poet and writer, died in 2004 from fibrosis of the lungs, a condition which restricted his breathing and movement. Whispers From the Offing - A Tribute to Kevin Coyne will raise money for Life and Living, a voluntary organisation working with psychiatric service users at Maudsley Hospital, in London. Before embarking on his music career, Kevin was a psychiatric nurse. The CD, which has been released on Life and Living's own record label, features 20 of Kevin's original songs performed by fans, including poet Frank Bangay, whose idea it was to record the CD. There is also a new song, Here Come the Urban Ravens, inspired by songwriter Jackie Leven's friendship with Kevin. Paul Bennetts, of Life and Living Records, said: "Coyne's honest, uncompromising style did not make him a star in commercial terms but to those who have discovered him through his music, writing and painting, he is one of the great British creative forces." During his career, he recorded around 35 albums and was Richard Branson's second signing to the Virgin record label in 1973. Early in his career, Kevin refused to meet Jack Holzman to discuss replacing Jim Morrison in The Doors, later joking that he did not like their leather trousers. Originally from Kitchener Avenue, in Normanton, Kevin went to the Joseph Wright School of Art, in Gower Street, from 1957 to 1961 and went on to Derby College of Art from 1961 to 1965. He left Derby in 1965 for his first job as a social therapist at Whittingham Hospital, Lancashire. In 1968, he moved to London to work as a counsellor for drug addicts before signing to John Peel's Dandelion label with his band Siren in 1969. Following a nervous breakdown and alcohol problems, he left the UK in 1985 to live in Nuremberg, Germany. He continued to record and tour and wrote books and plays. He was diagnosed with lung fibrosis in 2002 and died in December 2004. He last played in the UK at London's 100 Club in late October 2004, on stage in a wheelchair. To buy the CD for £10, including postage and packing, visit .

A Norvegian article and its translation by Martin:
"Kevin Coyne was one of those odd and eccentric British artists who never compromised with their music. He suffered from alcoholism and depressions, wrote lyrics based on the minds of mentally ill people, told stories about his catholic upbringing, about maladjusted individuals and phenomenons he did'nt like in the society. He painted the covers of his records himself and I will never forget the first time I saw a live-show of his broadcasted on TV, late at night at the end of the 70ths. Coyne performed his songs with great sincerity, a big beat and a raw, true ardour in his voice. 2004 passed this special singer, songwriter and artists away in his home in Germany. Now three years later is the tribute record released, produced by the the Life and Living organization, which will raise funds for the psychiatric care taking on Maudsley Hosoital in London. One could always question the point with buying a tribute record like this. For the good of the case off course, but there is some other reasons as well: to get an insight about the great diversity of stiles Coyne used in his music writing and perhaps if one likes any of the contributors on the album. Twenty-two songs are performed and among many are Goldfish, Nikki Sudden,Alternative TV and Chris Connelly worth mentioning. It is a nice record and a very good gateway to the special world of Kevin Coyne. But dont forget to check up his own records and pay special attention to the lyrics."

Poetry Express Spring 2009 issue available to download. It includes a review of the book That Old Suburban Angst, and a review of Whispers from The Offing.

Fan reviews:
It is always difficult to review a record of covers, as you naturally compare the covers with the originals, and, most of the time, the originals fare better. I have been a Kevin Coyne fan since the late 70’s and have listened to his music a lot, as well as attending live shows. With this CD, it is clear that everybody who made a contribution  is also a fan of Kevin’s music, as all covers try to interpret the songs of Kevin in their own special way. I think all tracks are special in their own way, but of course some stand out more than others. I don’t think it will do the album justice if I dissect it track by track, so a general feel is better. The sequence of the tracks on the album is very well chosen, it has the feeling of a “continuous” album, and not, like some compilations, one track sitting next to one another without any continuity.
Outstanding and great tracks in my opinion are:
Black cloud-Nigel Burch - Nigel puts his own special stamp on the song
Sand all yellow-Goldfish - This interpretation reminds me a bit of “The Gift” of Velvet Underground
Case history No 2 – Pascal Regis - A very anti-folk feeling to this song-a great cover!
Mad boy No2 – Frank Bangay - The new John Cooper Clarke?? A very catchy song in my opinion.
Here come the Urban Ravens-Jackie Leven - Even though not a Coyne cover, it was inspired by Kevin, and it sounds great.
Even though I haven’t mentioned all the tracks, I don’t think any of the songs are weak or disappointing, I could find something in every song. So far, I have listened to the album 4 times, but I am sure it will stay in my player for a long time and be played often, and with every replay I will discover something else not noticed before. All in all, I feel that every Coyne fan should own this album, and I think for people who are not familiar with Kevin Coyne, it will hopefully inspire them to go and search out the originals.
5 stars out of 5, thanks a lot to all contributors, it is an album put together lovingly and with care, and with respect to the late Kevin Coyne!
Goodie - feb 2007

Oh well here`s a challenge putting a together a review of this project not something I`ve had the pleasure of doing this before, no doubt I probably make a better van driver than a album reviewer but here goes.
Whispers From The Offing the eagerly awaited Kevin Coyne tribute cd, songs covered by artists familier to me such as Alternative TV, Kevin Hewick,Nigel Burch,Sally Timms,Jon Langford and a whole host of others who I will be making the effort tto get to know a little better. It really has been a great pleasure listening to the cd and all the artists have not disapointed, the`ve all managed to make their chosen songs their own.

The are some truly great covers on here, which will appeal to non Kevin`s fans as well as the the faithful,
Some appeal straight away to me,Black Cloud, Talking To No-One, Marlene, Raindrops On the Window, Hello Judas, I Only Want To See You Smile and Weirdo, Having A Party are firm favourites after the first couple of listens also Here Comes The Urban Ravens a tribute song rather than a cover,by Jackie Leven ,great lyrics.
Others need a few listens to get aquainted with, Both Grae`s version of Blame It on The The Night and My Evil Island Home by Jowe are good examples of this, I can`t get either song out of my head now so persevere with the songs that don`t get to you straight away and you shall be well rewarded.
Highlights for me on the first few plays are:
Black Cloud Š Nigel Burch
Raindrops On The Window Š Kevin Hewick
Marlene Š Nikki Sudden
Weirdo Š Joey Stack
Blame It On The Night - Grae J Wall
My Evil Island Home - Jowe Head.
All in all Whispers From The Offing is a great tribute to Kevin's music and I`d like to thank everyone involved for their contributions, you`ve all given this Kevin Coyne fan some fantastic music to listen to.

First thing I'd like to say is that the project is basically beyond any criticism, because it is a labour of love and serves a noble cause (the
cause being well chosen, indeed).Anything that might sound criticical here, should be seen from this angle - it is criticism where there shouldn't be any, but there won't be very much anyway.First thing I'd like to say is that all contributers refused the temptation of wanting to sound like Kevin. Everybody approached the songs in their very own way, which is a good thing, because thus the songs sound fresh to the ears of the listener. It may sound a bit like a contradiction now, when I say that I like those songs best that have a kind of "edge", a quality hard to define, but it's something I hear in Kevin's approach to his songs, and it has something to do with the energy he invests in them. It doesn't mean that I dislike the other songs in which I do not hear it and I believe that it is totally legitimate to choose a different way of presenting them. It's nothing but a personal preference.
Here is a list of the songs, where I feel I hear this element:
Nigel Burch - Black Cloud
Dog Latin - Cycling
Grae J. Watt - Blame It on the Night
Jowe Head - My Evil Island Home
Case History No2 - Pascal Regis
Frank Bangay - Mad Boy No.2
Dave Russel - Strange Picture
"Weirdo" doesn't have this "edge" quality, I was talking about, but it has got a whole lot of soul as well and is indeed one of my favourites.
What a voice! Don't get me wrong - the songs I listed above are just those, which immediatly strike a chord in me - Marlene (Nikki Sudden) and Looking for the River (Chris Conelly) come close - and, again, it doesn't mean that I think the others are bad. And let me say a word about Heinz Rudolf Kunze: I never liked anything that I heard from him before (which means: not such a great number of songs anyway) and I always thought that he was greatly overrated here in Germany. But his song on this album is indeed the best I ever heard from him. I also think that Jackie Leven did a great job as a song writer. I forget - what was he reason for making the Sally Timms and the Jon Langford tracks available for download only? They would fit in nicely! A final word on the packaging:
- The CD has a strange title and I can't see much of a connection to KC
- but then: Kevin loved strange things - and the sea.
- As far as the cover art is concert, my opinion is pretty much the same: it is different from what I had expected a KC tribute cover to look like, but then again, KC loved the sea side.
I tried to contact somebody who works for a Nuremberg newspaper in order to get him to write an article on the tribute CD, but I haven't been able to reach him yet.

Another review in French by Maurice Maes here (Music in

Greetings Friends,
ItÕs Friday night. I have been working really hard, and so am a little weary, and this might just explain in part my sentiments below.  But I thought I might share something of a mid term review of the new tribute cd. So please bear/bare with me!
I have been listening to the new album carefully, which has not meant poring over every track and dissecting it by candlelight, but rather playing it through, mostly from beginning to end, at least once every couple of days for a week or two.. Sometimes in the car in-between meetings, sometimes at home waiting for the cricket, sometimes on the computer in the office when everyone has gone back home to Soweto, and sometimes when I am cooking up a storm in the kitchen. (Not exactly an exacting scientific approach).
I am not quite ready to write up a full review as yet. I definitely need more time to let the tracks gain a little depth, gather momentum, touch something imperceptible perhaps, trigger a fond memory, become familiar etc.
However it was MauriceÕs interesting comments about how we might all individually feel and hear something different on the tribute album that really made me think.  
I am sure we all probably feel and hear elements of difference between the singers on the tribute album (even if drawing upon the portfolio of a single songwriter) and as Maurice suggests, this is likely to be due to a dizzying range of factors (background, culture, class, education etc). But what was (and is!) especially intriguing about KevinÕs music to me, and especially when sung by himself, is that it was capable of being accessed and appreciated by an astonishingly wide range of listeners. Look no further than this group for evidence!
Actually I saw with my own eyes, over more than a thirty year period, how KevinÕs music could often reach across communities, nations, national boundaries, continents and even generations. And to have particularly touched those with a potential for a heightened sensitivity and sympathy for others.
More now than ever, I believe that a key strength of KevinÕs music was that it could ŌtrespassÕ (as opposed to transcend) the largely manufactured boundaries that separate us. KevinÕs music has a universality that appeals beyond (and despite) our differences. And I am not sure I fully understand why!
It certainly seems able to provide us with insights into other worlds, to put us into someone elseÕs shoes, it even makes us look inside our own shoes at what we are! And this, I think is why I am struggling a little to get a comprehensive ŌfeelÕ for the tribute album.
This is probably a heresy, and so forgive me, and remember, this is a mid-term review after all, but the tribute album as a whole does not seem to have encapsulated the universality of KevinÕs work.  It feels and sounds more like an amalgam, a catalogue, a sampler of KevinÕs work, and not a tribute album that captures the complicated and fiery essence of the man. Put simply, it seems to lack KevinÕs soul.
The excellence and generosity of the contributors, and the intentions of those who selflessly worked to pull it altogether is not in the slightest doubt. But why a tribute album of covers? Why not a compilation of original tracks sung by Kevin, and chosen by those who worked with him or who admired him, with telling sleeve notes?
I hope this does not sound too negative.
I shall however listen on. The tribute cd is very very far from an unpleasant listening experience. The interpretations are interesting and even surprising. I am though, still waiting to be reminded of the energy, the hypnosis of an addictive and insistent repetition, the inverted tenderness of an everyday phrase and the colourful humour and richness of life in black and white. Will it come?
Food for thought? I hope so.
Greetings to all friends.
stephen f