New York Times, April 13, 2008

Going Places: The August Darnell Years 1974-1983
Published: April 13, 2008

Four years ago — which feels like a decade ago — the blissful early-disco love song “Sunshower,” from 1976, by Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band got unearthed for the chorus of an M.I.A. hip-hop track, “Sunshowers.” It was great appropriation, but something more was in order. Finally, this is it: “Going Places: The August Darnell Years 1974-1983” (Strut), a retrospective of great ideas by Mr. Darnell. He was a musician and songwriter; one of the minds behind Dr. Buzzard; later the full inventor and lead persona of Kid Creole and the Coconuts; and a sort of house producer at Ze Records, a bizarre and fruitful New York art-pop label in the late ’70s and ’80s. Born in Canada, raised in the Bronx, half French-Canadian and half Haitian, Mr. Darnell had an outsider’s fascination and an insider’s discernment about New York life. At their best the tracks collected here are smart, mysterious and outrageous polyglot disco. Sung by a succession of women with exaggerated voices, they refer to Tin Pan Alley and funk and jazz and salsa and rock; they’re slightly messy and full of absurd historical caricature — of cowboys and Indians, tropical languor, New York hustle. Naturally Mr. Darnell became drawn into musical theater, but you can even imagine his vision filling a novel or a film. It’s an ongoing, ever-relevant picaresque.