Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Kid Creole

  • Going Places: The August Darnell Years 1974-1983 [Stunt, 2008] A-

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Going Places: The August Darnell Years 1974-1983 [Stunt, 2008]
Belatedly, all of Kid Creole and the Coconuts' albums can be purchased on CD, and through the Sire and Columbia years, 1980-1992, every damn one is worth it. This is something else. Though the four cuts with Creole's name on them set the tone, it assembles side projects August Darnell oversaw for ZE, and double-damn if most don't hold up--Aural Exciters, Don Armando's Second Avenue Rhumba Band, Machine's fashionably charitable "There But for the Grace of God Go I," and the long-lost prize, Cristina's neo-nihilist takeover of Peggy Lee's/Leiber & Stoller's merely existentialist "Is That All There Is?" Though the PR calls this postpunk music "grungy," it's just DOR, the forgotten acronym for "dance-oriented rock," with an emphasis on the "D"--stripped-down disco with the occasional rock groove or instrumental flavor. It's slick. But it's also more intelligent than most IDM--sophisticated in the most tolerant sense. For longer than his dangerous lifestyle and surface success portended, Darnell was a visionary lyricist who considered all pop music his domain. He succeeded so well that even his rarities prove it. A-