Kid Creole & the Coconuts OFF THE COAST OF ME

ALBUM ZE.LP79
Original Release on ZE 1980

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13 Tracks 

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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann: 4 / 5

Mixing disco, Caribbean music, and strains of big-band jazz, Kid Creole engages in a self-deprecating dialogue with his backup singers, The Coconuts, who dismiss him as "Mister Softee" and plead, "Can You Get Me Into Studio 54?" on this hilarious debut album.

 

01 • Annie, I’m Not Your Daddy • 6:12
Written by August Darnell
Published by Cri Cri Music
Produced by August Darnell 
© 1982 ZE Records

02 • I’m A Wonderfull Thing Baby • 5:14
Written by August Darnell & Peter S. Schott
Published by Cri Cri Music / Schott in the Dark Music
Produced by August Darnell 
© 1982 ZE Records

03 • Imitation • 4:54
Written by August Darnell
Published by Cri Cri Music
Produced by August Darnell 
© 1982 ZE Records

04 • I’m Corrupt • 4:11
Written by Coati Mundi
Published by Coati Mundi Music
Produced by August Darnell 
© 1982 ZE Records

05 • Loving You Made A Fool Out Of Me • 4:48
Written by August Darnell
Published by Cri Cri Music
Produced by August Darnell
© 1982 ZE Records

06 • Stool Pigeon • 4:49
Written by August Darnell
Published by Cri Cri Music
Produced by August Darnell 
© 1982 ZE Records

07 • The Love We Had • 5:12
Written by August Darnell
Published by Cri Cri Music
Produced by August Darnell 
© 1982 ZE Records

08 • No Fish Today • 4:48
Written by August Darnell
Published by Cri Cri Music
Produced by August Darnell 
© 1982 ZE Records

BONUS TRACKS

09 • Chrismas On Riverside Drive • 4:20
Written by August Darnell
Published by Cri Cri Music
Produced by August Darnell 
© 1982 ZE Records

10 • You Had No Intention • 4:37
Written by August Darnell
Published by Cri Cri Music / Raineyville Music
Produced by August Darnell 
© 1982 ZE Records

11 • Annie, I’m Not Your Daddy (Remix) • 6:26
Written by August Darnell
World arranged by Dan Aldea
Published by Cri Cri Music
Produced by August Darnell 
© 1982 ZE Records

12 • I’m A Wonderfull Thing Baby (Original 12’’ Mix) • 6:10
Written by August Darnell & Peter S. Schott
Published by Cri Cri Music / Schott in the Dark Music
Produced by August Darnell 
© 1982 ZE Records

13 • Stool Pigeon (12’’ Mix) • 6:20
Written by August Darnell
Published by Cri Cri Music
Produced by August Darnell 
© 1982 ZE Records

14 • Double on Back • 4:22
Written by August Darnell
Published by Island Music Ltd.
Produced by August Darnell 
© 1982 ZE Records

SOUND
Produced by August Darnell
Recorded on location at Blank Tapes and Electric Lady 1981-1982
Chief Engineer Bob BlankMichael Frondelli
Assistant  Engineer Bruce BuchalterMichael Sauvage
Horns And Strings Arranged by Carlos Franzetti (tracks: 1, 3 to 11, 13 to 14)
Pond Life Orchestra Conductor Carlos Franzetti
Executive Producer Michael Zilkha
Original Sound Recorded by ZE Records © 1980

DESIGN
Sleeve Design Artwork By Bruno Tilley
Photography by George DuBose
Shell Drawings by Gill Thompson

Off The Coast Of Me

Kid Creole & The Coconuts burst into the 1980s with an incredible fusion of slick sophistication, bright colours, a wicked sense of humour and an infectious bringing together of many disparate strands of music from around the world; Latin rhythms, reggae, salsa, pop and even psychedelic soul.

Born in the Bronx on the 12th August 1951, Thomas August Darnell Browder created a larger-than-life character, Kid Creole, whose persona was a carefully cultivated mix of Darnell's influences and heroes; Cab Calloway, Slim Gaillard and Duke Ellington, white adding enough individuality to always be the Kid.

Working with his long-term foil, percussionist « Sugar-Coated » Andy Hernandez aka Coati Mundi, and with his then-wife Adriana Kaegi leading the Coconuts, Darnell added his theatrical training and love of 40s films to his exotic musical soup. It was an interesting counterpoint to the new romantic era that musically, so defined the grime - encrusted early Thatcher years. Brims were big, suits were Zoot, The Coconuts were glamorous and the Kid was always amorous.

Part of Michael Zilkha's perma-hip ZE set up, Kid Creole & The Coconuts released four groundbreaking albums; Off The Coast Of Me, Fresh Fruit In Foreign Places, Tropical Gangsters and Doppelganger. This remaster series provides an excellent opportunity to reappraise Creole's new take on 'race music'. « I'm glad these CDs are coming out », says Darnell. « cos these are my life. »

Off The Coast Of Me, the tentative beginning of Kid Creole & The Coconuts, is a much-loved and fondly remembered album, The tracks on the album were actually songwriting demos August Darnell had written for Chappell Music, that were thrown together on record by ZE Records boss Michael Zilkha. « We remixed them and tried to make the sound more polished, » Darnell recalls. « But, in the end, you listen and you can tell it was a demo. I did not have the real band in those days. We didn't have the concept together ».

So how did the album come to be recorded?

We must backtrack to the mid-70s, and a dose of that good old rock'n'roll staple, sibling rivalry. After qualifying as a drama teacher, Darnell joined his older brother, Stony Browder's group Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band, which also boasted good-time vibesman, Andy Hernandez. The band made their name playing 'eclectic mulatto music' to New York disco crowds. They soon became a mainstream success - their first album, Right Out Of The Box, went gold and contained the US No. 1 song, Cherchez La Femme. « We thought we were immortal and invulnerable, » remembers Darnell. « We soon found out we weren't ». 

The genesis of Kid Creole & The Coconuts goes all the way back to 1979. « It started because I was dissatisfied with Dr. Buzzard's, » Darnell recalls. « I was my brother's right-hand man. I was stifled because Stony would not allow people to grow beyond what he felt should be their space. He felt I should be the lyricist, the bassist and the background singer, and that should be my lot in life for the rest of my life. I had greater designs for the future ».

To make matters worse, Darnell wanted to write some songs for Dr. Buzzard's second album. This led to a feud, as Stony had been writing for years. « I decided that this frustration could only be eradicated by forming my own band, » Darnell states today. « Initially I had no intention of dropping out of Dr Buzzard's. I just needed a way to channel some of these new- found songwriting énergies ».

Zilkha and Darnell were both working out of Electric Lady studios. Darnell was doing a session for Machine (recording the superlative There But For The Grace Of God Go I, Creole's original is included here). When Zilkha discovered that Darnell was a member of Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band, he asked Darnell to help his chanteuse girlfriend, Christina, on production. (Darnell soon become in-house producer at ZE (. Zilkha started listening to Darnell's material. He loved it and wanted to release it on ZE. « And I said 'wow', » Darnell laughs. « There's an opportunity. »

ZE Records was a perfect musical antidote to the late-70s. Their fusion of musics, embracing African American, punk, Hispanic and gay cultures, provided a credible, East Coast underground alternative to all those who truly believed that by this point, disco sucked. With his history, acute musical ability and perfect understanding of popular music's heritage, Kid Creole was to be a perfect leading artist for the fledgling label. 

« All the other acts on ZE at that time were punk », Darnell recalls. « James White & The Blacks, Lydia Lunch, Suicide with Alan Vega. To find Kid Creole among this stuff was an honour. Punk was a pioneer movement for me. Along came these sloppy musicians who said anything goes, coming after all that 'disco had to be perfect' - straight four-on-the- bass-drum with everything precisely in time. I liked that. Kid Creole became a product of both worlds. I took that training of the perfection in the music and I linked it with the sloppiness and the 'anything goes' Laissez-Faire attitude of punk and that's really how Kid Creole was born. Without Michael Zilkha, I doubt anything would have ever been done - the music was too quirky and too out of this world for any major label to sign. But, lo and behold, Michael took a liking to it, put his money behind it and released it in Britain. The rest is history, because it stated getting favourable reviews in Britain, and without those reviews, I might have gone back to the Savannah Band and tried to eat crow, as they say.»

On Off The Coast Of Me, Creole's backing singers, The Coconuts were singers Darnell relied on to cut demos at ZE: great disco voices like Brooksie Wells, Fonda Rae and Lourdes Cotta appeared. Darnell called on friends, even Stony himself to arrange and play on Lili Marlene,

The album acted as a snapshot of the eclecticism of New York's nightlife at the time, something Darnell was no stranger to: « It was an incredible mixture in those days. On the one hand I hung out at The Mudd Club, which had every conceivable type rubbing shoulders, and I was also at Studio 54, New York is the best city in the world for that pot-pourri - you're able to borrow from every strain. I would not have wanted to be born or brought up anywhere else in the world. »

Off The Coast Of Me underlined the need for a return to brighter, more optimistic times at the end of the bleak American 70s. Although the album takes you around the world, New York is unmistakably its anchor. Mister Softee kick starts preoccupation of Darnell's - his sexual prowess with the ladies. « When I wrote Mister Softee, I thought you've got to be able to criticise yourself, it has got to be tongue-in-cheek or it becomes really obnoxious. Let's not take this too seriously ». Calypso Pan American is bright and breezy and Maladie D'Amour may still be his greatest recording. The aforementioned Darrio - which name - checked the then-white-hot James Black and also the B-52s - critiqued the elitism of shallow clubbers, and the rendition of Lili Marlene gave the album a truly international feel. « My favourite on that album was Bogota Affair and there's some gems on it like the title track, with its ocean faring imagery, » Darnell recalls.

Also included here are the initial Kid Creole calling cards - among the remixes and extended cuts are the A & B sides of their debut 12", There But For The Grace Of God Go I and He's Not Such A Bad Guy After All, demos of the songs that Machine took into the lower reaches of the R&B charts. 

All in all, Oft The Coast Of Me was a tremendously genre-hopping record, at a time when this was not commonplace. « You can't label it. You'd find it in the most unusual places in the record store third world, black, pop, reggae. It's none of those things and it's all of those things. That's the beauty of it. »

Darnell recalls Off The Coast Of Me as « cut on a small budget, didn't sell any records, but it did open the doors for us for what was to come. It got favourable reviews and, considering the manner in which it was put together, it was a charming little record, an introduction to the Kid Creole sound ».

In America, leftfield rock publication, Trouser Press, called his 'internationalist fusion one of the freshest new sounds of the 80s, one of the most unusual, influential and formidable bands around'. While in Britain, the newly-founded The Face magazine excessively championed both ZE and Creole. « Do ZE Records really need any introduction? Is August Darnell the most famous man in the world?", questioned Robert Elms. Darnell was elated: « The reviews suggested to me that there was something happening here, that if commercialised a little bit more, we could perhaps sell some records. »

So, the concept needed to be packaged correctly; Darnell's drama training was to come to the fore; « It was only then that Adriana Kaegi (later his wife) really created 'the Coconuts'. She said they should all look like her. 5ft 7 inches, blonde and Amazonian in stature. She wanted to create these clones that backed up the Kid and always cut him down to size. I thought the idea was fantastic, this juxtaposition of these beautiful blondes, myself, and this madman Coati Mundi - it was a three-ring circus and I loved it. It was only after Off The Coast Of Me that I decided to put a real band together. »

And a band did come together, supplementing Darnell, Hernadez and an evolving line up of Coconuts. Guitarist Mark Mazur, piano player Tom Schott and bassist Carol Colman all fell in. « We would all rehearse at a studio called Planet Sound », Darnell remembers. « And believe me, we had no idea that those rehearsals would some day bring us international recognition. Nobody in that room could believe that we would tour Germany, England, Denmark, Spain, and Italy in the following year. It was a magical fairytale. »

The next step was to buff up a few concepts that August Darnell had in mind, create a stage show and find Fresh Fruit In Foreign Places .

Oaryl Easlea spoke to August Dame/I on May 22nd, 2002. They joked about the good old days and recorded it on a reel of tape.

Thanks to Jules Absa/om

Liner Notes from the 2002 Islands Remastered reissues.

Off The Coast Of Me

Kid Creole & The Coconuts burst into the 1980s with an incredible fusion of slick sophistication, bright colours, a wicked sense of humour and an infectious bringing together of many disparate strands of music from around the world; Latin rhythms, reggae, salsa, pop and even psychedelic soul.

Born in the Bronx on the 12th August 1951, Thomas August Darnell Browder created a larger-than-life character, Kid Creole, whose persona was a carefully cultivated mix of Darnell's influences and heroes; Cab Calloway, Slim Gaillard and Duke Ellington, white adding enough individuality to always be the Kid.

Working with his long-term foil, percussionist « Sugar-Coated » Andy Hernandez aka Coati Mundi, and with his then-wife Adriana Kaegi leading the Coconuts, Darnell added his theatrical training and love of 40s films to his exotic musical soup. It was an interesting counterpoint to the new romantic era that musically, so defined the grime - encrusted early Thatcher years. Brims were big, suits were Zoot, The Coconuts were glamorous and the Kid was always amorous.

Part of Michael Zilkha's perma-hip ZE set up, Kid Creole & The Coconuts released four groundbreaking albums; Off The Coast Of Me, Fresh Fruit In Foreign Places, Tropical Gangsters and Doppelganger. This remaster series provides an excellent opportunity to reappraise Creole's new take on 'race music'. « I'm glad these CDs are coming out », says Darnell. « cos these are my life. »

Off The Coast Of Me, the tentative beginning of Kid Creole & The Coconuts, is a much-loved and fondly remembered album, The tracks on the album were actually songwriting demos August Darnell had written for Chappell Music, that were thrown together on record by ZE Records boss Michael Zilkha. « We remixed them and tried to make the sound more polished, » Darnell recalls. « But, in the end, you listen and you can tell it was a demo. I did not have the real band in those days. We didn't have the concept together ».

So how did the album come to be recorded?

We must backtrack to the mid-70s, and a dose of that good old rock'n'roll staple, sibling rivalry. After qualifying as a drama teacher, Darnell joined his older brother, Stony Browder's group Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band, which also boasted good-time vibesman, Andy Hernandez. The band made their name playing 'eclectic mulatto music' to New York disco crowds. They soon became a mainstream success - their first album, Right Out Of The Box, went gold and contained the US No. 1 song, Cherchez La Femme. « We thought we were immortal and invulnerable, » remembers Darnell. « We soon found out we weren't ». 

The genesis of Kid Creole & The Coconuts goes all the way back to 1979. « It started because I was dissatisfied with Dr. Buzzard's, » Darnell recalls. « I was my brother's right-hand man. I was stifled because Stony would not allow people to grow beyond what he felt should be their space. He felt I should be the lyricist, the bassist and the background singer, and that should be my lot in life for the rest of my life. I had greater designs for the future ».

To make matters worse, Darnell wanted to write some songs for Dr. Buzzard's second album. This led to a feud, as Stony had been writing for years. « I decided that this frustration could only be eradicated by forming my own band, » Darnell states today. « Initially I had no intention of dropping out of Dr Buzzard's. I just needed a way to channel some of these new- found songwriting énergies ».

Zilkha and Darnell were both working out of Electric Lady studios. Darnell was doing a session for Machine (recording the superlative There But For The Grace Of God Go I, Creole's original is included here). When Zilkha discovered that Darnell was a member of Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band, he asked Darnell to help his chanteuse girlfriend, Christina, on production. (Darnell soon become in-house producer at ZE (. Zilkha started listening to Darnell's material. He loved it and wanted to release it on ZE. « And I said 'wow', » Darnell laughs. « There's an opportunity. »

ZE Records was a perfect musical antidote to the late-70s. Their fusion of musics, embracing African American, punk, Hispanic and gay cultures, provided a credible, East Coast underground alternative to all those who truly believed that by this point, disco sucked. With his history, acute musical ability and perfect understanding of popular music's heritage, Kid Creole was to be a perfect leading artist for the fledgling label. 

« All the other acts on ZE at that time were punk », Darnell recalls. « James White & The Blacks, Lydia Lunch, Suicide with Alan Vega. To find Kid Creole among this stuff was an honour. Punk was a pioneer movement for me. Along came these sloppy musicians who said anything goes, coming after all that 'disco had to be perfect' - straight four-on-the- bass-drum with everything precisely in time. I liked that. Kid Creole became a product of both worlds. I took that training of the perfection in the music and I linked it with the sloppiness and the 'anything goes' Laissez-Faire attitude of punk and that's really how Kid Creole was born. Without Michael Zilkha, I doubt anything would have ever been done - the music was too quirky and too out of this world for any major label to sign. But, lo and behold, Michael took a liking to it, put his money behind it and released it in Britain. The rest is history, because it stated getting favourable reviews in Britain, and without those reviews, I might have gone back to the Savannah Band and tried to eat crow, as they say.»

On Off The Coast Of Me, Creole's backing singers, The Coconuts were singers Darnell relied on to cut demos at ZE: great disco voices like Brooksie Wells, Fonda Rae and Lourdes Cotta appeared. Darnell called on friends, even Stony himself to arrange and play on Lili Marlene,

The album acted as a snapshot of the eclecticism of New York's nightlife at the time, something Darnell was no stranger to: « It was an incredible mixture in those days. On the one hand I hung out at The Mudd Club, which had every conceivable type rubbing shoulders, and I was also at Studio 54, New York is the best city in the world for that pot-pourri - you're able to borrow from every strain. I would not have wanted to be born or brought up anywhere else in the world. »

Off The Coast Of Me underlined the need for a return to brighter, more optimistic times at the end of the bleak American 70s. Although the album takes you around the world, New York is unmistakably its anchor. Mister Softee kick starts preoccupation of Darnell's - his sexual prowess with the ladies. « When I wrote Mister Softee, I thought you've got to be able to criticise yourself, it has got to be tongue-in-cheek or it becomes really obnoxious. Let's not take this too seriously ». Calypso Pan American is bright and breezy and Maladie D'Amour may still be his greatest recording. The aforementioned Darrio - which name - checked the then-white-hot James Black and also the B-52s - critiqued the elitism of shallow clubbers, and the rendition of Lili Marlene gave the album a truly international feel. « My favourite on that album was Bogota Affair and there's some gems on it like the title track, with its ocean faring imagery, » Darnell recalls.

Also included here are the initial Kid Creole calling cards - among the remixes and extended cuts are the A & B sides of their debut 12", There But For The Grace Of God Go I and He's Not Such A Bad Guy After All, demos of the songs that Machine took into the lower reaches of the R&B charts. 

All in all, Oft The Coast Of Me was a tremendously genre-hopping record, at a time when this was not commonplace. « You can't label it. You'd find it in the most unusual places in the record store third world, black, pop, reggae. It's none of those things and it's all of those things. That's the beauty of it. »

Darnell recalls Off The Coast Of Me as « cut on a small budget, didn't sell any records, but it did open the doors for us for what was to come. It got favourable reviews and, considering the manner in which it was put together, it was a charming little record, an introduction to the Kid Creole sound ».

In America, leftfield rock publication, Trouser Press, called his 'internationalist fusion one of the freshest new sounds of the 80s, one of the most unusual, influential and formidable bands around'. While in Britain, the newly-founded The Face magazine excessively championed both ZE and Creole. « Do ZE Records really need any introduction? Is August Darnell the most famous man in the world?", questioned Robert Elms. Darnell was elated: « The reviews suggested to me that there was something happening here, that if commercialised a little bit more, we could perhaps sell some records. »

So, the concept needed to be packaged correctly; Darnell's drama training was to come to the fore; « It was only then that Adriana Kaegi (later his wife) really created 'the Coconuts'. She said they should all look like her. 5ft 7 inches, blonde and Amazonian in stature. She wanted to create these clones that backed up the Kid and always cut him down to size. I thought the idea was fantastic, this juxtaposition of these beautiful blondes, myself, and this madman Coati Mundi - it was a three-ring circus and I loved it. It was only after Off The Coast Of Me that I decided to put a real band together. »

And a band did come together, supplementing Darnell, Hernadez and an evolving line up of Coconuts. Guitarist Mark Mazur, piano player Tom Schott and bassist Carol Colman all fell in. « We would all rehearse at a studio called Planet Sound », Darnell remembers. « And believe me, we had no idea that those rehearsals would some day bring us international recognition. Nobody in that room could believe that we would tour Germany, England, Denmark, Spain, and Italy in the following year. It was a magical fairytale. »

The next step was to buff up a few concepts that August Darnell had in mind, create a stage show and find Fresh Fruit In Foreign Places .

Oaryl Easlea spoke to August Dame/I on May 22nd, 2002. They joked about the good old days and recorded it on a reel of tape.

Thanks to Jules Absa/om

Liner Notes from the 2002 Islands Remastered reissues.

Track List
  • 1
    Mister Softee
    04:15
  • 2
    Maladie D'amour
    05:01
  • 3
    Yolanda
    04:24
  • 4
    Off The Coast of Me
    04:56
  • 5
    Darrio
    04:02
  • 6
    Lili Marlene
    03:54
  • 7
    Bogota Affair
    04:32
  • 8
    Calypso Pan American
    05:18
  • 9
    There But For The Grace of God Go I
    05:27
  • 10
    He'’s Not Such A Bad Guy After All
    05:14
  • 11
    Darrio - 12 Disco Mix
    05:12
  • 12
    Yolanda - 12 Disco Mix
    06:43
  • 13
    Maladie D'amour - Mutant Disco Version
    06:10