Kid Creole And The Coconuts – Wise Guy (1982)

Kid Creole and the Coconuts is an American musical group created and led by August Darnell. Its music incorporates a variety of styles and influences, in particular a mix of disc and Latin American, South American, Caribbean, Trinidadian, and Calloway styles and conceptually inspired by the big band era. The Coconuts are a trio of female backing vocalists/dancers whose lineup has changed throughout the years.

Tropical Gangsters was the third album by Kid Creole & the Coconuts, released in the U.S. under the title Wise Guy, Kid Creole being the on-stage persona of August Darnell, the Latin Lothario dressed in a sharp suit and wide-brimmed hat backed by a troupe of female singers dressed for a Caribbean holiday, which included his wife, Adriana Kaegi. It was the thumping bassline and irresistible beat of the song “I’m a Wonderful Thing Baby” that finally broke him through to the big time, but even better was to come as Kid Creole released two of the better fun pop songs of 1982, “Stool Pigeon” and “Annie, I’m Not Your Daddy,” totally irresistible, danceable, easy to sing along to, and guaranteed to bring a smile to the face of pop dominated at the time by synthesizers and good-looking young men who looked more like girls. Darnell brought a cool sense of style to the charts of 1982, hitting number three with the album and remaining in the Top Ten for 11 weeks.

Following promotional work for the second Kid Creole and the Coconuts album Fresh Fruit in Foreign Places, Darnell gave an interview to the UK music magazine Melody Maker in December 1981 in which he spoke enthusiastically of the forthcoming solo album he was planning called Wise Guy, and told the magazine about three songs he already had written for the record titled “I’m a Wonderful Thing”, “Stool Pigeon” (originally titled “Jive Talking”) and “Imitation”. When it became apparent a few months later, however, that the record would no longer be a solo album and that it would be significantly different in style musically from the previous records, Darnell told interviewers at the time that it was “a chance to do some other things”, but in reality he felt he was being forced to do “a cop-out album, an R&B album” in order to ease ZE’s considerable financial difficulties with their parent label in the US, Sire Records. By the time of the album’s release in May 1982, Darnell acknowledged that his record company had put pressure on him and that the record had not turned out how he had wanted: “Make no mistake about it, this album is a compromise. It’s much more steeped in R&B than Kid Creole should be. That’s why it originally was supposed to be an August Darnell solo album. But because of the problems we ran into in the [record] company, and the company not believing in Kid Creole enough, this had to be turned into a Kid Creole album.”

The same article also interviewed Darnell’s long-time friend and musical director in the Coconuts, Andy “Coati Mundi” Hernandez, where he expressed his own grievances and feelings of being left out of the recording process: “The Kid Creole album that’s coming out, I wasn’t originally involved in it. It was going to be an August Darnell solo album, and the powers that be decided to make it a Kid Creole album without taking my interest into consideration. That’s when the trouble started for me.” Hernandez was upset that after apparently being told he could contribute three songs to the album, in the end only one of his compositions (“I’m Corrupt”) made it onto the final record, and even then in an almost lyric-free version because “they felt it wasn’t in the concept of the album so they decided to put it on as an instrumental”. He was also critical of the way Darnell had fired Hernandez’s friend Lori Eastside from the band, after she had shared lead vocals with Darnell on the first two albums. The disagreements opened up a rift between Darnell and Hernandez which was never completely healed, and Hernandez eventually left the band a few years later.

The album was recorded over four weeks at Blank Tapes and Electric Lady Studios in New York City.

Tracklist

1. Annie, I’m Not Your Daddy – 6:27
2. I’m A Wonderful Thing, Baby  – 5:16
Music By, Arranged By [Arrangement By] – Peter Schott
3.  Imitation – 4:11
4.  I’m Corrupt – 4:11
Lyrics By, Music By – Sugar Coated Andy Hernandez
5.  Loving You Made A Fool Out Of Me – 4:48
6.  Stool Pigeon – 4:59
7.  The Love We Have – 5:14
8.  No Fish Today – 4:56

Companies, etc.

Credits

Notes

Recorded on location at Blank Tapes & Electric Lady 1981–1982

Founding members of the Society for the advancement of Alternate Systems (S.A.A.S.): Julian McBrowne, Greg Ward, Randy Hoffman, Debbie Caponetta, Maria Duval, Andy Fuhrmann, Jerry Brandt, Al Smith, Jeb Brien, David Bondilla, Betsy Farren, Jimmy Doherty, Lou Vetter, Hal Selby, Al Selby, Bert Padell, Alan Siegel, Nancy de Pas.

Released: May 10, 1982
Recorded: 1981–1982 Venue Blank Tapes and Electric Lady Studios, New York City
Genre: Latin, funk, tropical
Length: 40:29

Label – ZE/Sire Records

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