Coincidentally, I am listening to the first Dr. Buzzard record. (If you don’t know Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band was led by Kid and some of the same people.) Listening to this record, it’s clear that a lot has been learned since that previous band. Nearly everything is better here than on the Dr. Buzzard debut. (I haven’t heard any of the records in between).
The songs are better: they are catchier and the lyrics are far better. One of my issues with the first Dr. Buzzard record is that I wasn’t around when that one song was a hit and have no memory of it. And I couldn’t remember it among all the other stuff on that record. I just didn’t remember the songs. That’s not true here. And, as I hinted, the lyrics are actually lyrics this time, it feels like there is a distinct voice here and they aren’t just trying to recall another era.
The musical diversity is far greater – it’s not just big band with a tinge of disco. There’s a pronounced latin pop influence (more so than with Dr. Buzzard) but there’s also a touch of reggae, and in addition to the large modern dance band thing. But, even more so than with Dr. Buzzard, the record sounds modern. Even though some of the styles they’re playing with are undoubtedly old, it doesn’t sound retro like Dr. Buzzard did on their debut.
One thing I’ll say in criticism is that Darnell is pretty affected as a vocalist. Cory Daye was a better frontperson from a technical perspective, though Darnell fits the shtick just as well I guess.
The bigger issue with this music and Dr. Buzzard as well is I think that so much of its success is about the live performances. On record, there’s something missing. (I doubt a live album would even capture it.) Fortunately there is much more going on with this musically than with the first Dr. Buzzard album (though who knows about the other ones) and so I find I care less.
Is it possible I’m overrating this just because I think it’s way better than the Dr. Buzzard debut? Yes, yes it is.