December 4, 2017 - Album of the Week- Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band

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DocBrown
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December 4, 2017 - Album of the Week- Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band

Post by DocBrown » Mon Dec 04, 2017 12:36 pm

In 1975, legendary manager Tommy Mottola was fresh off signing Hall and Oates to RCA. His next big thing was supposed to be fellow Bronx brothers Stony Browder and August Darnell who, along with Browder's girlfriend, Cory Daye, were the core of Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band. Mottola, who is name-checked in the first verse of "Cherchez la Femme / Se Si Bonne", the biggest hit off this self-titled debut, got the band an unheard of nine months and half a million dollars to produce this record. It sounds like a million bucks. Horns, layered strings, a children's chorus; while sold as a disco album this is in fact a big band album in the style of Cab Calloway, flavoured with tropical Carribean beats.

Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band went on to make two more albums of decreasing quality (and sales) before breaking up in 1980. Lyricist Darnell and vibraphonist Andy Hernandez went on to become Kid Creole and the Coconuts, who had considerably more success as a new wave band in Europe, and a big fan in Prince, who wrote the song "The Sex of It" for the band. Kid Creole continues to tour today. In 2016 Darnell wrote an off-broadway musical "Cherchez le Femme" about a bizarre Carribean disco band.

Stony Browder attempted a comeback as Dr. Buzzard with limited (read no) success. He died in 2001 of alcoholism related causes.

Cory Daye released a solo album, had a mostly invisible acting career and appeared on most of the Kid Creole albums (although never as a Coconut, the scantily clad and even scantier talented backup singers). She will star in a documentary, "Discotheque: The Real Story Behind the Velvet Rope", scheduled for release in February, 2018.

Tommy Mottola went on to manage or develop John Mellencamp, Mariah Carey, Gloria Estefan, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez and was chairman and CEO of Sony Records from 1990 to 2005. Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band fired him after this first record. Maybe not their best decision.

Working in a record store in 1976, I was way too cool to buy this album, which flew off the shelves through the summer and fall. Their second album, "Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band Meets Mac Sennett", was pressed in the millions and sold in the dozens; disco was perhaps the most fickle and short lived musical phenomenon of all time. I have idly looked for a copy of "Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band" for forty years without success although I often see the follow up album in the dollar bins. So when I found a copy of this not so rare gem for ten bucks this last July, with a ten dollar store credit in my pocket, you can imagine the smile on my face.

Unlike most dance albums, "Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band" is a listening experience. The A-side contains all of the band's hits; "I'll Play the Fool", "Hard Times", "Sunshowers" and the aforementioned "Cherchez la Femme". The latter two songs will be recognizable to hip-hop fans as the base of similarly titled songs by M.I.A. and Ghostface Killah, respectively. On the second side we see the band really shine with an improvisation on Cole Porter's "Night and Day" and my favourite track, the closer "Sour and Sweet".

While the zoot-suited brothers Browder and Darnell write competent, workmanlike jazz and playful, literate lyrics (Darnell has a master's in English Literature and briefly taught high school), it is the sunshine and sexiness of Cory Daye's voice that makes these songs work for me. Daye, a graduate of the Mabel Dean Bacon High School of Cosmetology (I couldn't make this stuff up) was only tapped as the lead vocalist halfway through the recording sessions after the original lead singer, Bill Dorsey, was fired and Mottola's hand picked replacement, Luther VanDross, refused to audition.

"Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band" is a forgotten gem from an era most music fans are happy to forget. Cory Daye and the band never lived down the disco tag, but I hope you agree that this is more than a disco album.

Unfortunately, I am a technophobe when it comes to Spotify playlists; can't figure out how to build one. Can somebody help me out?

Hymie
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Re: December 4, 2017 - Album of the Week- Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band

Post by Hymie » Mon Dec 04, 2017 1:39 pm

Here's the album playlist on youtube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVY2kI3 ... 27YfIf8r4p

Hymie
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Re: December 4, 2017 - Album of the Week- Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band

Post by Hymie » Mon Dec 04, 2017 1:43 pm

Some of the videos are blocked in the USA. But I'm not gonna bother trying to hear all of them. I hated the hit single when it was current, and I don't like it anymore now. I could not stand the showy Broadway type disco stuff that was around in those days.

EmilienDelRey
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Re: December 4, 2017 - Album of the Week- Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band

Post by EmilienDelRey » Mon Dec 04, 2017 2:10 pm


DocBrown
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Re: December 4, 2017 - Album of the Week- Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band

Post by DocBrown » Mon Dec 04, 2017 2:11 pm

Thanks, EmilienDelRey!

jamieW
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Re: December 4, 2017 - Album of the Week- Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band

Post by jamieW » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:18 am

I'd only heard two songs from this album before, "Sunshower" and "Cherchez la femme/Se si bon," and liked the former, while not so much the latter. Sometimes I have no idea why an artist doesn't click with me; but I know the precise reason Dr. Buzzard has never connected, which is that it's music created to make people feel good, and most of my favorites tend to be on the dark and gloomy side. (Certainly my problem, not theirs.)The album itself is definitely deeper than just disco, with its Latin-influenced, Big Band/Swing sound syncing nicely with the disco syncopation. It's definitely an album that deserves credit for its combination of styles; I only wish it appealed to me more personally. My wife says she can always predict whether I'll like a song or not based upon how weird or depressing it is. That, more than anything, likely explains why bands like Dr. Buzzard continue to elude me.

Thanks, Doc, for another entertaining review, which helped me appreciate the qualities you see in the album. And please don't ever lose that sense of humor of yours! (My personal favorite is still a remark you made about a Leonard Cohen album that disappointed you. I wish I could find that one again, because it had me laughing for days.)

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