I’m really not sure what to do with this strange record. It’s extremely critically acclaimed and had a minor hit. It’s also stuck in the distant past while trying, at least a little bit, to be contemporary. In many ways, it feels like a dress rehearsal for the sequel band, which I just happen to be listening to an album by at the same time. It’s just a really strange record that, for some reason, really appealed to some people when it came out.
So what it is? Well, it’s a weird hybrid of Big Band jazz (or, rather, someone’s idea of Big Band jazz) with disco, but leaning far more towards the sort of “memories of big band” than disco. It feels tailor-made for certain disco clubs of the era, but almost as a reprieve between the purer dance tracks. Like, imagine that disco is pumping away and every is pretty tired because they’ve been dancing for ours. And then one of the less dancy tracks from this record comes on and everyone sort of chuckles knowingly at the camp and anachronism and they get some water. And then another disco track comes on to start the climax of the night. I don’t know, that’s how I imagine it working.
It’s creative, but creative in much the same way something like the Brian Jonestown Massacre is, creative to a point that I can’t really get. I mean, comparing this group to the BJM is not fair to this group, because they are far more contemporary. So I need a better comparison and one isn’t coming to me right now. But sure, nobody else thought of this idea. I have to give it to them.
But who is this for? I guess it must be for people who fondly remember big band but wanted a dance update. Or maybe it’s for people who specifically didn’t remember big band, because now this is how they can remember it, filtered through a vaguely disco ish sound.
Honestly, I have no idea what to do here. It’s super retro, except when the bass or the strings bring it into the ’70s. Listening to a Kid Creole album at the same time shows, to me, just how much better Darnell got at his shtick with time. And, for me, he’s not there with this record.
But it’s distinct. I can honestly say I’ve never heard anything like it. Which is…something.