Friday, October 19, 2007

Kid Creole and the Coconuts

Stool Pigeon

Man oh man, have I had problems with this entry. This must be the 7th time I have corrected it. sorry for all the problems, Kid Creole deserves better. If this band was not one of the few guilty pleasures for us here at the Totally Awsome Big 80s Music Videos, we would have deleted the entry and moved on.

This band is a perfect example of a group that if pitched to MTV today, would get zero air time. But fortunately for us, they were in the 80s.

Kid Creole and the Coconuts are an American band created and led by August Darnell. Their music incorporates styles like big band jazz, disco, and in particular Caribbean/Latin American salsa. The Coconuts are a glamorous trio of female backing vocalists whose lineup changes throughout the years.

Thomas August Darnell Browder (aka August Darnell, aka Kid Creole) was born in Montreal, Canada, on 12 August 1950, and was raised in the Bronx.

Darnell began his career in a band named The In-Laws with his half-brother in 1965, which disbanded so August could pursue a career as an English teacher. He obtained a masters degree, but in 1974 again formed a band with his half-brother under the name Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band. They played to some initial success, reaching a gold and Top 40-charting album with their debut release, but could not match this on subsequent releases.

Darnell began producing for other artists before adopting the name Kid Creole (from the Elvis Presley film King Creole) in 1980, and forming The Coconuts, a trio of female backing vocalist/dancers, including his wife Adriana Kaegi, and a band including vibraphone player Andy Hernandez aka Coati Mundi and legendary Jamaican drummer Winston Grennan. Cheryl Poirier joined that year as lead vocalist of the Coconuts, followed by Taryn Hagey as "Coconut #3" on background vocals in 1981. This line-up remained in place throughout the band's heyday. Hagey left the group in 1985 and was replaced by Janique Svedberg. Among the recurring Coconuts is Danish actress and musical star Gry Bay, who made headlines with her starring role in the feature film All About Anna (2005).

Their debut album was the heavily disco-influenced Off the Coast of Me, which was critically well-received but not successful commercially. The second release Fresh Fruit in Foreign Places was a concept album matched with a New York Public Theatre stage production; it received rave reviews, and Darnell was recognized as a clever lyricist and astute composer, arranger and producer. The album charted briefly, and subsequently Coati Mundi's "Me No Pop I", though not originally on the album, became a Top 40 UK hit single. Their breakthrough came with 1982's Tropical Gangsters, which hit #3 in the UK and spun off three Top 10 hits with "Stool Pigeon", "Annie, I'm Not Your Daddy" and "I'm a Wonderful Thing, Baby", written by musical director Peter Schott. "Dear Addy" also made the Top 40. In the US the album was retitled Wise Guy and reached #145, and "I'm a Wonderful Thing, Baby" flirted with the R&B charts. 1983's Doppelganger was a relative commercial disappointment, despite the single "There's Something Wrong in Paradise" reaching the Top 40.

Kid Creole in concert (1987)
Darnell and Kaegi divorced in 1985, though she remained with the band. She and Cheryl Poirier also formed their own group, Boomerang, with Perri Lister, which released an album on the Atlantic label in 1986. Darnell continued Kid Creole and the Coconuts and in the mid to late 1980s contributed to various film soundtracks and other such projects. He appeared at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1986 and in this period released the albums In Praise of Older Women and Other Crimes and I, Too, Have Seen the Woods, neither of which charted despite the hit "Endicott". 1990's Private Waters in the Great Divide had a hit with single "The Sex of It", a song written by Prince and recorded at Paisley Park Studios with Sheila E. It reached Top 40 in the US and UK and is to date one of his best-known songs.

Darnell used to reside in the Dinnington area of South Yorkshire but now lives in London (and occasionally Sweden), and still tours with the Coconuts occasionally. He is currently collaborating with writer/producer Peter Schott on a Contemporary Opera, to be produced by Son Of Kong Productions.

Off the Coast of Me (1980)
Fresh Fruit in Foreign Places (1981) #180 US
Tropical Gangsters (released in the US as Wise Guy) (1982) #3 UK, #145 US, #43 US Black
Doppelganger (1983)
Cre-Olè: The Best of Kid Creole and the Coconuts (1984)
In Praise of Older Women and Other Crimes (1985)
I, Too, Have Seen the Woods (1987)
Private Waters in the Great Divide (1990)
You Shoulda Told Me You Were (1991)
Kid Creole Redux (1992)
To Travel Sideways (1995)
Kiss Me Before the Light Changes (1995)
The Conquest of You (1997)
Oh! What a Night (2000) (Live album; also released as Best of Kid Creole and the Coconuts)
Too Cool to Conga! (2001)

"Maladie D'Amour" (1980)
"He's Not Such a Bad Guy (After All)" (1980)
"Going Places" (1981) #51 US Club Play Singles
"Table Manners" (1981)
"Latin Music" (1981)
"I am" (1981)
"Kid Creole and the Coconuts presents Coati Mundi: Me No Pop I" (1981) #32 UK
"I'm a Wonderful Thing, Baby" (1982) #4 UK, #44 Black Singles, #18 Club Play Singles
"Stool Pigeon" (1982) #7 UK, #25 Club Play Singles
"Annie, I'm Not Your Daddy" (1982) #2 UK, #45 Germany
"Dear Addy" (aka Christmas in B'Dilly Bay with Kid Creole and the Coconuts) (1982) #29 UK
"There's Something Wrong in Paradise" (1983) #35 UK
"The Lifeboat Party" (1983) #49 UK
"My Male Curiosity" (1984) #83 UK
"Don't Take My Coconuts" (1984) #86 UK
"Endicott" (1985) #80 UK
"Caroline Was a Drop-Out" (1986)
"Hey Mambo" (with Barry Manilow) (1987)
"The Sex of It" (1990) #29 UK
"I Love Girls" (1990)
"(She's A) Party Girl" (1991)
"UFO" (1997)

1983 BRIT Awards - Best International Artist

External links
Kid Creole and the Coconuts official site


Patty said...

Just wanted to let you know...the video on youtube only shows about 18 seconds of the video and then quits for some reason. Sounds like a cool song (I'd never heard of it.)


101 Newsletter said...

Thanks Patty for the info. I have corrected the link.

If you like this band, check out our link for the Bar-Kays.

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