My morning swim didn’t happen uh-gain. Which is okay as I’m beginning to “taper” on the weekly mileage leading into next weekend’s Frank & Friends 10k Swim for Strong Kids. I do have yesterday’s put-off tempo run to complete later this afternoon (snow be damned) so I’m getting this Day 87 mat routine in the books early with the ‘Doppelganger‘ album by Kid Creole and the Coconuts.
I’m beginning to go through some of the more random albums in my collection that I haven’t listened to in some time and, in some cases, have no recollection of where they even came from.
This is one of those albums.
Judging from the label in the top left hand corner, this album used to belong to the St. Catharines Public Library (catalog #7854.54). However, I only have very vague recollections of the library ever loaning out records so I doubt that this was something I ever checked out and forgot to return meaning of course that I have no legitimate idea how it ever ended up in my collection exactly.
In other words, this album is the equivalent of the Moai monoliths of my record collection.
Kid Creole and the Coconuts is actually a musical group created and led by August Darnell. Its music incorporates a variety of styles and influences, in particular a mix of disco and Latin American, South American, Caribbean, Trinidadian, and Calloway styles and conceptually inspired by the big band era. The “Coconuts” are his trio of female backing vocalists/dancers whose lineup has changed throughout the years. ‘Doppelganger’ is the 4th studio album, released in 1983.
Now, I know what you’re thinking because I thought it too: “what the fuck?”
I mean, look at Kid Creole on the cover.
His get-up reminds me of the horny, howling wolf from the old-school cartoon ‘Red Hot Riding Hood‘ (click HERE) but, honestly, there’s more here than meets the
Darnell leads his band of eccentric vagabonds though another episode in an apparently continuing saga of “Mimi”.
Who that is exactly, beats the living shit out of me. Of course, it’s not necessary to read the esoteric liner notes, nor is a knowledge of previous chapters required to enjoy this particular installment. As usual, the only prerequisite is an acquired taste for the bizarre, often comical travelogues set to exotic pop which represent the essence of this particular album.
Darnell’s infatuation with international environments results in a soundtrack characterized by ubiquitous percussion and spirited brass and woodwinds, although electric guitar also figures prominently in several songs.
Much like Paul Simon‘s master efforts on ‘Graceland‘, Darnell incorporates world music elements to add a foreign flavor to pop postcards like ‘It’s a Wonderful Life‘ and ‘There’s Something Wrong in Paradise’. Yet Darnell is rarely as serious as Simon, and only Graceland’s lighthearted ‘You Can Call Me Al‘ could even remotely blend inconspicuously with the material on this album. A Caribbean-styled remake of Jimmy Soul’s ‘If You Wanna Be Happy‘ is indicative of the album’s affable nature.
I mean, just listen to these words of wisdom:
“If you wanna be happyFor the rest of your life,Never make a pretty woman your wife,So from my personal point of view,Get an ugly girl to marry you”.
For the uninitiated (as I am), this albums peculiar content presents a “love-it or hate-it” dilemma. Fortunately I love me some heady cheese pop so, yeah, I can kind of dig it – particularly ‘Call Me the Entertainer‘ (which, if I am ever required to make a stage entrance, this will be used as my theme music) and ‘The Seven Year Itch‘ which are actually…tolerable. Oh, and ‘Bongo Eddie’s Lament‘ would be right at home on a Ween album.
Having said all that, whether or not someone thought enough of this album to “liberate” it from the library’s catalog or whether the library saw fit to get rid of it is still open for debate.