Tuesday, April 01, 2008

He's Not Such A Bad Guy After All

The resurrected Strut label are on something of a winning streak since their return. Following on from the rather good Disco Not Disco: Post Punk, Electro & Leftfield Disco Classics 1974-1986 and the excellent Funky Nassau: The Compass Point Story 1980-1986 comes Going Places: The August Darnell Years 1974-1983. Strut like their left-of-centre disco almost as much as they like torturous titles with timeframes at the end, so you can understand why I love them so much.

August Darnell is known to most as Kid Creole, but he's often seen outside of those in the know as a bit of a novelty (sartorial choices and his willingness to appear onstage opposite Will Mellor in recent years probably did for that). This misconception is one of my own personal bugbears as he was the catalyst for some of the best disco music to come out of New York in the late-70s/early-80s. Arthur Russell gets the critical plaudits - and rightly so, most of the time - but Darnell is arguably more influential and, oftentimes, his music was just as artful as Russell's, albeit in a different way.

Anyway, Going Places goes a long way to rectify this misrepresentation as it pulls together some of his lesser known work (no place for 'Annie, I'm Not Your Daddy' or 'Stool Pigeon'), sidestepping the whole 'Tropical Gangster' schtick he became known for and highlights his nous as a producer. The collection kicks off with Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band - Darnell's first band with his brother, Stoney Browder Jr. and Coati Mundi, aka Andy Hernandez - and the pop-soul of 'Sunshower' (sampled by M.I.A. on her song of the same name), before taking in the kitsch delights of Cristina's take on 'Is That All There Is?', Machine's absolutely massive underground disco anthem, 'There But For The Grace Of God Go I', Don Armando's' classic disco cover of 'I'm An Indian, Too', alongside early tracks from The Coconuts and Darnell's other band, Aural Exciters.

For Ze Records scholars, Going Places probably won't hold that many surprises - some of the tracks here have seen the light of day on their Mutant Disco compilations - but as a balance-redressing collection of some of the funkiest, most flamboyant, showtune-inspired, decadent, yet lowdown and dirty disco to ever come from the Big Apple, Going Places is absolutely essential. I, for one, eagerly anticipate Strut's next move.

Kid Creole & The Coconuts - He's Not Such A Bad Guy After All (12" Version) (mp3)

Machine - There But For The Grace Of God Go I (12" Version) (mp3)

Still bored? 24:Hours have an excellent Rune Lindbaek mix up for download at the moment. Hasn't left my stereo for the last two weeks.

Also, if you're not all disco'd out by now, let me rep once more for the excellent Million Dollar Disco site, especially the mixes section. The Love On The Run mix is superb, but they're all worth checking out if you have the time/inclination/disco pants.


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