Under Appreciated Band of the Month
Kid Creole & the Coconuts
Misunderstood Fun loving Bronx Party Band
In an era of moody synth-pop and purple hair it was refreshing to hear pop music with trumpets and tombones. During the era of Frankie T-shirts and bubblegum jeans it was nice to see zoot suits and dinner dresses……
Led by August Darnell and his side-kick Andy Hernandez, Kid Creole & the Coconuts were sort of like time travellers who never quite fit in to their era. Rising from the ashes of their previous (and enjoyable) incarnations as the Dr Buzzards Original Savannah Band and Gichy Dan, Kid Creole and the Coconuts struggled to sell any records in the US while gaining massive success in Europe and the UK. They were funny and theatrical and at their best combined excellent musicianship with hummable melodies. Every time I think of this band I smile….;-D…and it always felt strange when I had to “force” people to listen to them back in the 80s….why would anyone not like Kid Creole and the Coconuts??? (I still feel the same way now…)
Kid Creole’s big year was 1982 when they scored 4 UK hit singles- each of which was laced with a distinct latin or world music element. New Yorkers at heart Kid Creole and the Coconuts music was 42nd Street come to life….black, white, latin, sout pacific…midtown, up, the Bronx, Harlem…Brooklyn, Babylon….it was all there in Kid Creole mixed up in stunning hi-f
Perhaps their most definitve track would be the LP version of ‘Annie I’m Not Your Daddy’ (the title kinda says it all I think)…a rhumba-esque show tune that ends with a rum soaked trombone solo that you hope will never end….sorta like a latin Pogues song…hahah
Without any US chart success however the Kid Creole ship struggled to stay afloat as the 80s progressed. Like many interesting and creative bands of that era they were shunned by MTV and progressive music FM stations and were forced to live on their UK and European record sales. After manys years on Ze/Sire Records the Creoles’ switch to Columbia/CBS in 1990 and issued their swan song LP ‘Private Waters In the Great Divide’ with the help of guest musician Prince. One more time the US music biz shunned them..
But having a hit was never the primary focus of August Darnell and he has continued to tour as a live act (mainly in Europe) over the last 20 years or so….counting his royalties…and listening to Cab Calloway records.