SHOW BUSINESS by Kevin Coyne


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 Musicians rail against Tin Pan Alley in this pungent collection of short pieces, average length one to three pages, from longtime British recording artist Coyne (author of an earlier collection, The Party Dress, 1991--not reviewed). To be sure, not all the monologues and sketches involve musicians--a spirited Ezra Pound fulminates in his Italian cell; an Englishman called Kevin turns into a sausage (it beats being a laid-off farmworker)--but the musicians predominate and give the collection its distinctive flavor. The main targets are talentless, drug-ravaged superstars, the hard-driving tour managers, and the corrupt producers and executives doing the packaging. The star who's been marketed as an angry rebel has always toed the company line; the reclusive ``living legend'' readying himself for a comeback is a journalistic invention, a burnt-out case; and the hip producer who's proclaimed ``a new universe of total vibes'' pulls a knife on an executive. But not all the book is bile. Coyne is attuned to the jaunty whistling in the dark of guys figuring how to ride the next wave: Ronnie ``almost crept into the top fifty twelve years ago'' and sees a future for himself in the return of romantic ballads; a veteran of punishing road tours confides, ``I want to rock till I drop.'' And in the longest piece, Coyne vaults gracefully into fantasy with an affectionate salute to some departed icons relaxing at ``the great bar in the sky'': Janis Joplin marries Sid Vicious (``Janis will regret it. It must be a post-acid trauma,'' comments Jim Morrison), while Bessie Smith falls for Jimi Hendrix. Entertainment with an appropriate touch of savagery. Next time you're standing on line for a concert, this book would make the ideal companion.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 1-85242-251-3
Page count: 162pp
Publisher: Serpent’s Tail
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1993


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