Wednesday, February 13, 2013

DVD Review: Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Live at Rockpalast1982

Text © Robert Barry Francos/FFanzeen, 2013
Images from the Internet

Kid Creole & the Coconuts: Live at Rockpalast 1982
Directed by Christian Wagner
MIG / WDR, 1982 / 2012
Disc 1: 116 minutes
Disc 2: 125 minutes

Y’know, I often complain about how so much of the music related to the Top 10 charts over the past few years is actually theatre, and is essentially the same song with compressed sounds over and over, often using the same dance moves. I mean, Nicki Minaj and Ke$ha are pretty interchangeable, with no aural va va voom.

However, theatre and music (as opposed to musical theater) can work. One prime example is, say, Alice Cooper during his Billion Dollar Babies and Welcome to My Nightmare period of the mid-‘70s. But for sheer entertainment value, it’s hard to top Kid Creole and the Coconuts. Sure, David Johansen tried to step on Creole’s stylistic wave in his Buster Poindexter phase, and while he became more successful thanks to his stints on Saturday Night Live and the infectious “Hot, Hot, Hot,” it was a rip-off of KCatC – albeit a joyous and totally enjoyable one.

With an incredibly large multicultural and pan gender band including three backup singers / dancers called the Coconuts, August Darnell is in control with his zoot-suited character, Kid Creole. The music is mostly Latin based, with a touch of reggae and even a smattering of disco-influenced rhythms and proto hip-hop; there is lots of dancing, movement, storylines, and a whole lot of fun.

While I don’t think it would be fair to say that there is a narrative that goes through all the songs, there certainly is a motif, with each one is acted out using different characters, including the songs led by band co-founder Andy “Coati Mundi” Hernandez.

Many of the songs are humorous, such as “Table Manners,” “Mr. Softee” and “Annie (I’m Not Your Father),” where the Kid tells the titular girl, “If you had my blood / You wouldn’t be so ugly.” This, like most of the material, is a rave up, everyone is pretty drenched in sweat early on, but they never let up. Even with the rare slow numbers, the energy level is high, such as the lovely “Dear Addy,” which shows off the strength of Kid’s singing.

The camera keeps up with the action without doing that MTV-style quick editing that is so annoying (and always has been), which is commendable on many levels; there are also no claustrophobic close-ups of nose-hairs and the like. Plus, considering when this was recorded, the image is incredibly crisp without that dated video fuzz, and the 24-track music is sharp and clean. This is especially true considering this was probably transferred from the PAL format.

This release is actually a double DVD, with each one averaging two hours. That is a whole lot of finger and toe tapping for the viewer. There is lots of interaction between band members, the Kid, and the Coconuts (one of whom includes Darnell’s ex-), who have quite a few costume changes

The first disc is the second recorded show, starting on October 16th, 1982, and lasting into the next day. It’s filmed at the huge German showplace, Grugahalle Essen, in Cologne, part of a Rockpalast-sponsored festival. The enormous crowd, who aren’t seen too often, are obviously into the sound when the camera does focus on them. During the last samba song, “Malaise D’Amour” (translates as “Love Sickness”), the band conga lines through the audience, who joyfully join in… well, those who don’t dance on the stage, that is.

The second disc was recorded a few months earlier, on June 3, 1982, at the much smaller Sartory Halls, also in Cologne (seems to be about the size of Irving Plaza, in NYC). Story goes that this show was so well received, they were invited to play again at the much larger hall of the first disc. Despite the high energy, the sound quality for this show is a bit lacking compared to the first, though the high energy is definitely present and easy to get into the groove; the image is also a bit grainy and occasionally has the blue horizontal lines wavering. However, note that there is something intimate and gratifying about this performance, though the later show may be considered more of a definitive record.

It’s a consistent party over the two discs, with the songs being long, averaging around 6 minutes, though there are a couple that are a few that last well over 12 minutes per. And yet it all goes by so fast because it’s so much fun. This is even good listening with the sound alone. As a sidebar, it’s a joy to cook while it’s on (which I did my second time through).

The two extras, one per disc, are the trailer for the set, and a 10-minute-plus pre-show interview at the Sartory Halls, which is a humorous mix of English and German.

August “Kid Creole” Darnell: Lead vocals
Adriana Kaegi: Vocals
Cheryl Poirier: Vocals
Taryn Hagey: Vocals
Andy “Coati Mundi” Hernandez: Vibes, flute, vocals
Mark Mazur: Guitar
Miss Carol Colman: Bass
Al Mack: Drums
Bongo Eddie: Percussion
Ken Fradley: Trumpet
Lee Robertson: Trombone
Charles Lagond Sax (disc 1)
Alan Ross: Sax (disc 2)

Disk 1 Set List:
Turkey Trot
Going Places
I’m a Wonderful Thing, Baby
Mr. Softee
Loving You Made a Fool Out of Me
Ain’t You Heard the News?
Don’t Take My Coconuts
Annie I’m Not Your Daddy
No Fish Today
Que Pasa
Table Manners
Dear Addy
Stool Pigeon
Gina Gina
Maladie D’Amour

Bonus Disk Set List:
You Had No Intention
Gina Gina
Mr. Softee
With a Girl Like Mimi
Turkey Trot
Que Pasa
Any Time is Party Time
Table Manners
I’m a Wonderful Thing, Baby
Ain’t You Heard the News?
In the Jungle
Don’t Take My Coconuts
Stool Pigeon
Latin Music
I Am

No comments:

Post a Comment