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Buster Poindexter

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Album Review

After two albums as lead singer of the punk rock New York Dolls and five as a power pop solo artist, David Johansen surprised his fans by woodshedding in a bar off Irving Place in New York City, toying with a new musical persona he called Buster Poindexter, a tuxedo-clad lounge lizard leading a horn-filled backup band called the Banshees of Blue. The question "Is he kidding or what?" was inevitable, but the repertoire he developed and the group's approach to it demonstrated that this was more in the realm of an affectionate pastiche than a parody. With his cavernous bass-baritone and outsized personality, Johansen always had at least an implicitly humorous side, especially when he was camping it up with the glitter and glam of the Dolls' heavily costumed look. There was perhaps more of a wink and a tongue in cheek with Buster Poindexter, but that didn't mean that the music was outright comedy. Rather, Poindexter and the Banshees took as their antecedent an act like Louis Jordan & His Tympany 5, presenting songs in a good-humored, if not laugh-out-loud kind of way. And the persona allowed for several different styles, from the jump blues of "Smack Dab in the Middle" and "Good Morning Judge" (which led off the two sides of the LP) to the Caribbean carnival fun of "Hot Hot Hot" and "Cannibal." Given his voice, Johansen/Poindexter was a natural to try his own version of "House of the Rising Sun" with a nod to Eric Burdon and the Animals, and there was even room for the ballad side of David Johansen himself, such as on the remake of "Heart of Gold," which had appeared on the 1981 Johansen album Here Comes the Night. This first Buster Poindexter album allowed Johansen to make a comeback as part of the 1980s' retro wave that encompassed everything from the Stray Cats to Linda Ronstadt's albums with Nelson Riddle. And it was more enjoyable than most such efforts, precisely because it didn't take itself too seriously.

Biography

Born: 01 September 1950 in New York, NY

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Buster Poindexter was the pseudonym rock singer David Johansen adopted in the mid-'80s for a semi-comic nightclub singer act he began to perform. Eschewing his hard rock solo career — which followed a stint as lead singer of the New York Dolls — Johansen turned up at the New York club Tramps in a tuxedo, with a band he dubbed the Banshees of Blue, and sang pop standards, jump blues, and various novelty material. Eventually, the act won him a record contract with RCA, but it was basically...
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