Givin’ the world some bonhomie: Kid Creole

Late to the lifeboat party, I bought my first Kid Creole and the Coconuts album in 2008. A compilation of Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band, leader August Darnell’s more profitable disco-era project, didn’t impress me as much as the numbers on 1982’s Wise Guys. And numbers they were — productions in the Old Hollywood sense, reminding me of Buster Poindexter and solo David Byrne but with a ironical deployment of call-and-response female vocalists and horn section. A decaying world peeked beneath the giddy textures, which Darnell’s tunes didn’t mitigate (Machine’s “There But For The Grace of God Go I” is closer to life during wartime than the contemporaneous Talking Heads song). Their new album I Wake Up Screaming, produced by Hercules and Love Affair’s Andy Butler, sounds grateful instead of angry, but formally it’s close to unimpeachable. Andy Beta’s interview with the Kid depicts the travails of being almost famous — an insoluble dilemma but a reflexive one too, if you consider how often Darnell’s own songs almost veered off script from rave-up to editorial (check out 1987’s “Part of My Design”).

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