Sunday, December 9, 2012

I promised myself I'd do a post someday about the band Cruella de Ville...

Cruella de Ville during their frustratingly brief 1980s career

A rare Cruella 12" single
This is me keeping a promise to myself.

I want this blog to be a force for good in the universe, and there can be no greater good than to let you readers know about an incredible band called Cruella de Ville, an Irish quartet that existed only from 1982 to 1984 and released a grand total of eight songs (plus a handful of remakes and remixes). You can listen to their entire recorded output during a single lunch break. Wikipedia labels their music as "post-punk" and "goth rock," I guess those labels are accurate enough, but they make the band sound angry or gloomy, which it most definitely isn't... or wasn't.

If I were trying to sell you on the music of Cruella de Ville (not to be confused with the 101 Dalmatians character who spells her name "de Vil"), I'd describe it this way: imagine if Wednesday and Pugsley Addams took over the band Queen. That about covers it. In fact, the band really was founded by a brother-and-sister pair, Colum and Philomena Muinzer, and did take a lot of musical cues from Queen, especially that group's guitarist, Brian May. For a while, it looked like the band might make it. They released a string of 7" and 12" singles in the UK, including a few on the Beatles' old label, EMI, but widespread commercial success was not forthcoming, and Cruella dissolved before even recording a debut album. The good news is that fans have collected and cherished those rare Cruella de Ville records for 30 years now, and they've aged like fine wine. These songs are almost unreasonably fun. Here, take a listen to the group's best-known tune, a gleeful bit of black comedy called "Those Two Dreadful Children."

If you weren't blown away by "Those Two Dreadful Children," then you and I would have very little in common. That's the song that originally got me hooked on Cruella. After I heard that on The Dr. Demento Show, I knew I had to hear more... and what I found was almost too good to be true! Here's another favorite of mine, a track called "Drunken Uncle John." This song especially resonates with me, because there actually was a "drunken Uncle John" in my own family, and his behavior was not too far off from what is described in the lyrics. Cruella even filmed a video for this one. Take a gander, won't you?

And that wasn't their only video, either! Check out this one for the insanely catchy "Gypsy Girl."

Cruella de Ville also made a few appearances on British television. Here they are performing another classic, an absurd and politically anti-correct little concoction called "Hong Kong Swing," whose lyrics seem to be a jumble of Japanese and Chinese terms strung together into tongue-twisting rhymes.

I wish I could say that there were lots more Cruella de Ville tracks to play for you, but there simply aren't. The band broke up, and the musicians went on to other, more sensible pursuits. You've already heard about half the band's entire catalog at this point, I'm afraid. But I hope you've enjoyed what you've heard. If you're the least bit curious for more of this group, I can provide some helpful links.
That's pretty much it. And now, I've fulfilled that promise to myself. Good for me.

P.S. - Sometime during the last week, the odometer on this blog passed the 1 million mark. It's a meaningless milestone, I realize, but I'm proud of it anyway. On to 2 million views!

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