“I put the reggae in the rock, the salsa in the pop, I put
Sinatra in the pot, stirred it up a lot, I put calypso on the map and put the
funk in your lap.” Kid Creole comes close to explaining his musical concept in
the song “Blow Me Up,” though one could quibble with the Sinatra reference, and
he doesn’t mention the jazz licks that pop up now and then. Still, the Kid has
creolized his own language from a combination of other sources. For more than
30 years, there has been nobody else out there that sounds like him.
Not that we’ve had much evidence these past 14 years, as I Wake Up Screaming is the first studio
recording for Kid Creole and the Coconuts since 1997’s The Conquest of You.
Fourteen albums in their first seventeen years, then the long lay-off. Of
course, you practically had to be a family member to find some of those
original albums. Though there were sporadic hits, the band was always bubbling
under the surface of hipster and mainstream success alike.
It turns out you don’t know what you’ve been missing until
it suddenly arrives back just the way it was.
I Wake Up Screaming is an
absolute delight, a rhythmically exhilarating, lyrically humorous, melodically
intoxicating collection of thirteen terrific songs. August Darnell, the Kid
himself, has lost maybe a tiny bit of vocal color, but he is still capable of
investing all sorts of character into his songs. Here’s the lecherous loser in
“I Wake Up Screaming (In the Tropics)”; the truth-telling braggart in “Blow Me
Up”; the thankful brother in “Stony and Cory” (based on the tale of his
real-life brother Stony, who had been with him in Dr. Buzzard’s Original
Savannah Band back in the 70s); the romantic crooner of “Just Because I Love
The original line-up of the band has long since dispersed, but
everybody playing on this record is first-rate. Virtually every instrument is
primarily functioning to propel the rhythm forward; this is dance music at its
core. But Kid Creole never subscribed to the notion that dance music had to be
melodically or even harmonically simple in order to give the rhythms room to be
complex. Instead, everything works together to keep the body moving and the
I Wake Up Screaming is a stunning return from a band that is still operating at peak capacity. Every
song is memorable, and several are laugh-out-loud funny. Kid Creole and the Coconuts are back, and we
are all the better for it.
and Cory,” “Tudor-Jones,” “Attitude,” “Blow Me Up” STEVE PICK