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Penitentiary Blues


07/18/05
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(conqueroo) The first release from the Shout! Factory/HackTone imprint is David Allan Coe’s long-lost debut album Penitentiary Blues — a record so outlaw it was written behind bars. While serving his eighth consecutive stretch in prison, Coe wrote a batch of songs that brought death row into the home of anyone with guts enough to listen. Songs like “Cell #33,” “Oh Warden,” and “Death Row” are delivered with such a sense of desperation, they could have come only from a man on the inside. Though out of print for decades, Penitentiary Blues is very close to Coe’s heart and he is deeply involved in the CD debut, acting as executive producer and contributing to the packaging and marketing of it. Penitentiary Blues will be available on August 23 with a suggested retail price of $18.98.

The packaging will be as extravagant as the music is raw. The digipak will replicate the original die-cut, gatefold of the original LP, which featured a photo of Coe behind bars that lifted away when the front cover was opened. Inside the package will be two booklets: The first will include a new essay from Grammy®-winning historian Colin Escott and a new introduction handwritten by Coe himself. The second booklet, “David Allan Coe’s Guide To Surviving In (And Out) Of Prison,” is a 20-page guide excerpted from Coe’s out-of-print book, Ex-Convict.

The most controversial performer in country music history, Coe’s legend is based as much on his bad-ass behavior as it is on his astounding talent. At a time when Outlaw Country implied “creative freedom,” Coe was crashing the party with a loaded gun and a half-empty bottle of Jack. In the decades that followed the release of Penitentiary Blues, Coe became a country legend, landing hits like “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” and “The Ride” and writing songs for Tanya Tucker (#1 with “Would You Lay with Me in a Field of Stone”), Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, George Jones and Tammy Wynette. But no song brought him more acclaim than “Take This Job and Shove It,” the #1 blue-collar anthem he wrote for Johnny Paycheck in 1977.

Coe is currently in the midst of a career revival and has recently recorded with Pantera (Dimebag Darrell gave Coe the guitar he now plays on stage every night) and was sought out by Kid Rock to contribute songs for his latest album.

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