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Calypso Calaloo

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, November 8, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Released in conjunction with Donald R. Hill's book of the same name (University Press of Florida, 1993), this aural accompaniment provides ample proof of the spirit and variety of early calypso recordings. Hill has compiled a sampling of the history of calypso on record, and the result is a collector's dream -- tracks from the Smithsonian and other archives and from commercial studios, most of the recordings very rare. This collection truly captures the spirit of Carnival.

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Rounder Records deserves much praise for brightening up the often dull and familiar American pop musicscape with a flurry of releases that challenge our stereotypical view of "island music." This is particularly true of the music of Trinidad and Tobago, identified in the American popular mind with the synthetic Calypso-meets-disco sound of soca. While soca is a more complex and worthy genre than some opine, it's associated less with Calypso's social protest and hilariously witty innuendo than with less-graceful expressions like popular soca artist Arrow's sexual request in "Winey Winey" to "winey winey 'pon your pum-pum." This fascinating CD puts the gleam on the fine old wood of the earliest Calypso songs, featuring wonderfully baroque orchestrations from the finest T&T Calypso orchestras from 1914 to the '50s, with elegant keyboard passages, swooning strings, snaking horns, exotic male choruses with African overtones, and the sublime vocals of seminal Calypsonians such as Lionel Belasco, Roaring Lion, Babb and Williams, Houdini, Lord Executor, and Lord Invader. This collection of treasures from the Smithsonian, other archives, and commercial studios transformed a series of tracks by the set's producers into a heady taste of carnival through the decades. Calypso Calaloo is actually the aural accompaniment to Donald R. Hill's written volume Calypso Calaloo: Early Carnival Music in Trinidad, a fascinating account of that island's music pioneers, its world-famous annual carnival, and the culture that spawned it. --Elena Oumano

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Trinidad Carnival - Lionel Belasco
  2. La Impresión - Tipical Orchestra Of Trinidad (Lovey's Band)
  3. Buddy Abraham - Lionel Belasco
  4. African War Call - The Roaring Lion/The Cyril Monrose String Orchestra
  5. Lis Camille - Babb And Williams
  6. Petrol - Tipical Orchestra Of Trinidad (Lovey's Band)
  7. Yaraba Shango - Tiger/Gerald Clark And His Orchestra
  8. Uncle Jo' Gimme Mo' - Houdini/Gerald Clark's Iere String Band
  9. The Lajobless - Lord Executor
  10. Legnum Vital - Merrick's Orchestra
  11. Back To My West India Home - Sam Manning And Orchestra
  12. Rum And Coca Cola - Lord Invader
  13. Introduction Of Steelbandsmen - Calypso Calaloo
  14. Last Train To San Fernando - Woodbrook Invaders Steel Orchestra
  15. L'Année Passée - Patrick Jones
  16. Walter Winchell - George Clark And His Calypso Orchestra/Duke Of Iron


Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 8, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rounder Records
  • ASIN: B0000002TN
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #336,886 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
This was my introduction to prewar calypso, together with the book by the same name, now regretfully out of print. I have since bought several collections, the ones from Rounder records and a few others. But this is still my favorite, even if it is a bit uneven. Some of the instrumantals are of quite low fidelity and therefore less enjoyable, but the the good ones are some of the greatest examples of prewar calypso availiable on CD!
"Yaraba Shango" by The Growling Tiger and "The Lajobless" by The Lord Executor are two wonderful examples of dramatic minor-key storytelling songs. The recording of Lionel Belasco's piano solo "Trinidad Carnival" is a modern-day transcription of a unique piano roll. It's fun to listen to The Lort Invader's version of the song he claims was stolen from him, Rum and coca cola, even if the performance of the song here is a bit ragged. My favorite part of that recording is the introduction: "that song which has the world upset, Rum and Coca Cola - in the way it was intended to be sung". In other words: not like the Andrews Sisters did it. Other good ones: "Lis Camille" and "Uncle Jo' Gimme Mo'" by the underrated (in some quarters) Wilmouth Houdini, and a couple of others.
I would rate this CD a 5 for these tracks alone, but some of the instrumentals are not quite on that level.
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Format: Audio CD
truly gives you a feel for what early calypso was like. the steelband piece by Invaders is great.It gives you a true carnival feeling.
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