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Calypso Pioneers 1912 - 1937
Genres: World Music, Special Interest
The very roots of the intriguing and often hilarious topical music from Trinidad and other Antillean locales. Compiled and annotated by Dick Spottswood and Don Hill, the album includes performances by pioneers such as Love... more »
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The very roots of the intriguing and often hilarious topical music from Trinidad and other Antillean locales. Compiled and annotated by Dick Spottswood and Don Hill, the album includes performances by pioneers such as Lovey's Band and Merrick's Orchestra, and better-known artists like Wilmoth Houdini and Atilla the Hun.
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Lawrence Waldron | New York | 12/15/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Mango Vert", the first track on this recording, means "green mango" in French Patois, the original language of Calypso. Like a green mango, a young mango, this is Calypso green on the branch, young and tart. Your face puckers with the wry wit, so typical of the Trinidadian sense of humor. As a Trini myself, I can say that if you dropped a nuclear bomb on Trinidad, the survivors would write a sarcastic, side-splitting calypso about it the next day. These songs consider everything seriously before poking fun at everything. It is amazing to hear "kaisos" from as far back as 1912! Luckily, most of these guys recorded in New York, so there is always an old wire copy in somebody's Brooklyn basement. They're all masterpieces here, but the crowning piece has got to be "Caroni Swamp" by Phil Madison, my pick for Calypso of the Millennium on several Calypso surveys going around. This song is a tragic and hilarious tale, told episodically (as is typical of the form) of a man trying to tame the great swamp in Trinidad. But alas, the project engulfs him, nature mocks him and his only solution is futile and idiotic. I think he has lost his mind by the end of the song! An amusing commentary on the "colonizing" attitudes of the post-Columbian world from which this great musical form was spawned."