Kevin Coyne's 1979 collaboration with Dagmar Krause is a concept album that allegedly investigates the relationship between the moors murderers. Although never explicitly mentioned as in the Sex Pistols gross track on The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle
, the sleeve notes and the lyrics carry clues. Had the psychoses been less obvious, Babble might have brought the artist commercial success since the tunes, arrangements and above all vocals are of most sublime. Krause and Coyne take turns to sing solo except on Shaking Hands With The Sun and the concluding segue It Really Doesn't Matter/We Know Who We Are.
The art song Are You Deceiving Me? opens the work on an introspective note that halfway through turns harsh as Coyne's vocals fill up with anguish. Then Dagmar takes up the tale on Come Down Here in an eerie vocal arrangement where repressed shrieks, yelps and sobs bubble under and into her pure folkie voice. Her lover suffers from depression that drives him to demon drink, it emerges. Dead Dying Gone is a rock number with edgy rhythms that accentuate the narrator's unhinged mood as it swings from megalomania to the death wish. One of the catchiest songs, Stand Up, is an uptempo rocker characterized by rollicking pianoforte, a propulsive beat and striking tempo changes.
Ms Krause's vocal prowess becomes clear on the mournfully melodious
Lonely Man where her alto occasionally ascends into the higher registers. The narrator's focus on her lover's mind adds a sinister undertone. And were it not for this same unease, I Really Love You might be considered as one of Coyne's most accessible mid-tempo ballads. He remains on vocals for the haunting and deceptively optimistic Sun Shines Down On Me.
I Confess has Coyne relating a harrowing account of domestic violence and implied hallucinatory experiences over what resembles a swinging and swaying country backing. This is immediately juxtaposed with Krause's defiant rock song Sweetheart with its nervous vocals and hints of hysteria. On the lilting duet Shaking Hands With The Sun, they sing about the male's distorted views on the crucifixion, Mussolini and Hitler. By now it has become obvious that both lovers are deeply disturbed.
Then follows the achingly tender My Mind's Joined Forces, a compellingly tuneful ballad beautifully sung by Dagmar
, where the declarations of love are finally interspersed with the ominous lines 'They can hear the whisper now/Soon they'll hear a scream and a shout.' Kevin replies with the equally frightening It's My Mind where the male's pathology becomes clearer. This obsession with his mind echoes Krause's aforementioned Lonely Man.
On the pleading Love Together, a whispered echoing delay give Dagmar's vocals a spooky feel and near the end the singing turns into a repeated spoken refrain. Kevin takes the mike again on Happy Homes with its buoyant arrangement of stabbing piano rolls. The song exposes the suicidal other side of the Christmas season. A mix of defiance and despair, the concluding duet It Really Doesn't Matter/We Know Who We Are has a lovely acoustic guitar line and atmospheric electric piano notes like silver raindrops in the distance. As Coyne's obscure masterpiece, Babble equals Marjory Razor Blade
for its memorable music.