Andy Kershaw played tracks from this a lot his classic late 1980’s radio show, must have been 10 yrs or so after it originally came out in 1977. The one track which stuck in my mind (thanks to a cassette – remember them – recording of the show) was “The Mayor is a Good Old Boy”, a drily narrated account of nepotism and corruption in a rural backwater set to a jaunty old-timey guitar and mandolin accompaniment.
After many years of this track resurfacing in my head, I put in the effort on Google and tracked down a copy of the album, the itch had to be scratched. Was it as good as I had remembered? Crikey yes! Turns out too that the track is a great introduction to the great self-penned and recorded set of songs and tunes that comprise Coyote Kid.
Recorded on an 8-track, all instruments played by the man himself (with the exception of one track), this is a ramble through old-timey America (occasionally via the Balkans) with tongue pressed firmly in cheek, but affectionately and skilfully done. Is there anything this guy can’t play? Banjo, guitar, fiddle and tumburitsa (whatever that is).
The songs – all a witty tumble of playfully nonsensical cynicism, ants in the pants, inner tubes, whisky stills, gluttony and comedic brushes with the law sound like they could have come from the grooves of a 78, but almost all come from the fervid imagination of Mr Bradley.
The tunes – scraping fiddle (Fall By the Wayside), frailed and picked banjo(Knees and Elbows andJeremy’s Reel), beautiful mandolin (Me and the WIfe), strummed – and on two occasions (The New Preposterous Rag and Getting the Hell Out of Fresno)fabulously raggily picked guitar. All highly skilled, authentic and utterly charming.
The one exception to the solo recording is the magnificently Eastern Mediterranean sounding Olympia, where Hank is joined by a motley crew of unlikely sounding individuals (Arthur Acidophilus – Sydney Bulgaricus?) along with the likes of the rather more orthodox Linda Keen and Jody Stecher!
A lost gem then – well worth tracking down if you still can, I was fortunate, my copy was mint, shrinkwrapped with a Tower Records sticker, but there must be others out there -thank goodness for the internet!
The man himself has a website here where you can find links for his other recordings etc. “Hassle the Caller” is a particularly fine collection of faux trad fiddle tunes, Chase the Squids or The Dance of the Music Critics anyone?