As much as I adore the inherent goofiness that is new wave — the guyliner, the overwrought posing, the one-finger keyboard technique — sometimes I must admit some acts come dangerously close to goofy overload, camping it up far too much for even my appreciative sensibilities. Luckily, Total Coelo are not one of those acts (ha, fooled ya).
A quintet of five marginally talented females wrapped in plastic bags and latex, Toto Coelo (rechristened “Total” Coelo in the United States to prevent any confusion with Toto — like that would happen) took their name from the Latin for “Heaven wide.” While the trashy, tongue-in-cheek material producer Barry Blue provided for the ladies was anything but heavenly, they had a Showgirls-level charm that laid the foundation for the Spice Girls.
Their goofy apex had to be their only charting hit in the U.S., “I Eat Cannibals Part 1” (download), which contains the immortal lyrics:
All I wanna do is make a meal of you
We are what we eat, you’re my kind of meat
Got a hunger for your love, it’s what I’m speaking of
Give a dog a bone, I can take it home
MTV devoured the video, spurring the single into the Hot 100, even though most radio stations (read, every radio station except for KROQ) wouldn’t touch it.
“I Eat Cannibals” went top ten in the UK, but a second single, “Dracula’s Tango,” fared much worse. The group soldiered on with a third single, which is a personal favorite: “Milk From the Coconut Part 1” (download) took a Chic beat, a bit of Tom Tom Club deadpan rapping, and some Bananarama-esque vocals to create a mindless confection that should have charted but, sadly, didn’t.
The girls collected their singles, the B-sides, and some odds and sods to compile an album called Man o’ War, but it went nowhere. Two more singles sputtered in 1985 before the ladies called it quits. Since then, “I Eat Cannibals” has been featured on several ’80s compilations, and even Man o’ War made it to CD, complete with remixes and bonus tracks, under the title I Eat Cannibals and Other Tasty Trax. Heck, it’s even on iTunes. Feast on that!
“I Eat Cannibals” peaked at #66 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at #27 on the Club Play Chart in 1983.
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