Friday, February 1, 2008

Back to the 80's: Elbow Bones and the Racketeers "A Night in New York"

Kid Creole and the Coconuts. Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band.

And Elbow Bones and the Racketeers.

Whatever his moniker, there was no doubt that August Darnell was one of the most colorful characters of the 70s and 80s.

Trying to meld the stylishness of zoot suits and the swing era with the glamorousness and outlandishness of the disco era (and later the garish new wave era), Darnell succeeded in creating a sound that remained unique – at least until David Johansen left his punk roots behind and became Buster Poindexter.

Elbow Bones and the Racketeers were an invention – a side project, if you will, that allowed Darnell to get deeper into the swing era than the goofy tropicalia of Kid Creole allowed. Among others, the group consisted of Darnell, his half-brother Stony Browder Jr. (the original Dr. Savannah), frequent cohort Gichy Dan and singer Stephanie Fuller.

They put out one album in 1983 on EMI and it yielded a sizable dance club hit that lots of people still remember fondly today, "A Night in New York."

Here's the retro-style video, which obviously tries to evoke the old Cotton Club:

And here's the mp3

Play "A Night in New York" by Elbow Bones and the Racketeers.

As a native of the Big Apple, I must admit that this song always gets onto my New York mix tapes more often than the done-to-death "New York New York." Give me this song, "New York State of Mind,""Rockin' Around in N.Y.C." and "New York City (You're a Woman)"and I'm happy. Every time I hear its brass section lift off, I just want to sweep up my wife and dance around the living room.

One complaint: It may be too much to ask for, given Darnell's disco past and the music of the time, but I sure wish the drum machine could have been dumped in the Hudson and the entire rhythm section could have been more organic. Otherwise, it's a little 80s slice of heaven I'll always treasure.


Eric said...

I'm about as far from NYC as one can get, both geographically and metaphysically (whatever that means), but have you considered adding Lucy Woodward's "Geographical Cure" to your Big Apple playlist? OK, it's not exactly a song that the Chamber of Commerce would like to see get a lot of airplay, but native New Yorkers are allowed to slam their own city, aren't they?

Oh, and I share your enthusiasm for Elbow Bones and "Night in New York"! I taped the music video from a segment of "Night Tracks," back when VCRs still had wired remotes.

Anonymous said...

Yes, and it could be mentioned that Ron Rogers, writer of 'Deputy Of Love", (Don Armando) "The Lifeboat Party" (Kid Creole) and many other August Darnell recordings wrote the hit "Take Me For A Night In New York", with lyricist Deborah Clarkin. Rogers also wrote and produced "Cowboys and Gangsters" for the group Gichy Dan on Ze, and a cult favorite "Spooks In Space"' on Ze Records as well. Cory Daye, former Dr Buzzard Savannah Band vocalist also recorded several of Rogers compositions including "City Nights/ Manhattan Cafes"; and "In The Middle Of The Night" both on Blue Chip Records.

Anonymous said...

THIS was an August Darnell project? No wonder I was nuts about it.

- Oak Evolution

Ronald ( said...

This song was a minor hit in the Netherlands (#15) but I fell in love with it right after it was released. The woman singing the song (Stephanie Fuller) has a real good 40's / 50's sounding voice and the whole song makes me want to travel back in time. To the time of the big bands... August Darnell did a great job! Well.... did we expect anything else?