New Music from the Caribbean

What's new in Caribbean Music


CALYPSO

A Tribute To The Mighty Spoiler, Vol. 1

Various artists

The Mighty Spoiler was one of Trinidad and Tobago’s most beloved traditional humorists: in a short career (he died in 1960 at the age of 34) he produced calypsos still unmatched for wit. Each singer on this album tries his hand at three Spoiler classics. Traditionalists like Bomber, Blakie and Mystic Prowler remain true to Spoiler’s original style, while singer/actor David Bereaux conjures up Spoiler’s stage persona. Relator and Funny show how much Spoiler influenced them, and David Rudder adds his own tribute. The music was recorded at a live performance in Port of Spain. (DJ)

Riding De Riddim

Red Plastic Bag (Bayfield Records)

Calypsonian Red Plastic Bag captured the Calypso Monarch crown in Barbados last year. His newest album, Riding de Riddim, is his fourteenth, with six substantial tunes, all self-composed and mostly self-arranged and produced. Issue of de Day, which played a major part in his Crop Over success, is one of his best pieces: a topical song that packs a powerful punch rhythmically and lyrically. This 1996 release highlights a distinctive gift for piquant double entendre and contagious rhythm. If you love undiluted kaiso, you’ll certainly enjoy this one. (RK)

Movin On

Roy Cape All Stars (Crosby’s/JW Productions JWCRO 095CD)

This is a soca compilation by four artists — Trinidad and Tobago’s 1996 Road March king Nigel Lewis and his brother Marvin, the lead singers for Roy Cape’s legendary soca band, plus Colin Lucas and newcomer Choko. The 1996 Road March Movin is here (in an urban and techno mix); so is the old-time Carnival hit Puwah. An upbeat religious number called Say a Prayer looks ahead to 1997. There’s an intriguing combination of live music and innovative technology here. (DJ)

Kickin Up Dust

Coalishun (Coalishun Records CE003)

Lawd have mercy, the Bajans are coming again. And they’re kickin’ up dust in a storm. Last February, Trinidad and Tobago reluctantly let Barbados conquer the Carnival: it was krosfyah that time, with its slow, ragga-style soca. For 1997, it sounds like it’s Coalishun mashing up the place. The horns are hot while the pace is slow and sexy, and the result has been scooping endless airtime on T&T radio stations. But it takes more than sugar and spice to make a CD nice, and producer Nicholas Brancker — the man who engineered krosfyah’s success — knows that. He puts a zouk rhythm on Cock de Bumsie (conservative Bajans are sure to love that), a dancehall flavour on Girlfriend, and threads a fast ragga rhythm through the rest. Coalishun is likely to be Kickin up Dust not only at T&T Carnival and Barbados Crop Over but at plenty of other carnivals around the world. (NM)

Slammin’

The Slam City Crew (Slam City SCOI)

With some of the best voices in Barbados ringbang and calypso circles, Slammin’ starts with a bang and doesn’t let you catch your breath. John King opens with Brugga-Down, a feisty and engaging invitation to “wine like yuh crazy” and “get on bad.” You’ll enjoy Blood’s Leggo Beast, the mid-tempo dancehall soca Don’t Stop the Jam, and King’s groovy Murder. Whole Night is memorable for Foreigner Frank’s laid-back voice and a soothing calypso ballad beat. It leaves you wanting more. (ES)

REGGAE & DANCEHALL

Reggae Gold 1996 VPCD1479 (VP Records)

On the fourth Reggae Gold compilation, Beenie Man shares the spotlight with his arch-rival Bounty Killer, making the CD a reggae lover’s must. This calls for a toast to the DJs (Buju, Degree, Bounty and Shabba) and a salute to the singers (Levy, Beres and the legendary Gregory Isaacs). The lovable Beenie and his cohorts are busy trying to “fool her and get what we want/Ten gyal X-rated and raw . . .”, the old Killer is reeling at babes so beautiful they look almost as good as cars, while the saucy General Degree is chatting up a babe on his cellular. The lone woman, Lady Saw, contributes a red-hot brand of lusty lyrics and inimitable vocals. Barrington Levy reworks the haunting Murderer urging “all the ghetto youth” to abandon the gun; and Junior Tucker pays homage to his mother’s wisdom as he takes his lady in arms. Reggae Gold’s formula of dancehall hits, rockers, lovers’ music and conscious lyrics works like a tonic. (NM) Scent of Attraction Patra (Sony BK67094) Dancehall’s rude girl, the self-proclaimed Queen of the Pack, Patra sizzles in this new work. She breathes new life into Pull Up To The Bumper in a reworking of the Grace Jones original; Dip and Fall Back is peppered with attitude and a catchy chorus, while Hot Stuff features a cameo from Salt n’ Pepa and a dominating bass. Expect the disc to soar and Patra-bashers to bow to her majesty. (ES) My Xperience Bounty Killer (TVT/VP 1461-2) Bounty Killer, swinging from nice to naughty to nice again, sums up his Xperiences in 20 tracks beginning with Fed Up, a take-off of Suzanne Vega’s Tom Diner, and The Lord is my Shepherd, which samples Earth Wind and Fire’s Reasons. A few tracks after this dancehall preaching, a different Bounty Killer is explicit about why women love him (because of Mi Nature). The best tracks, surprisingly, are the duets with rap and reggae heavyweights Barrington Levy and Richie Stephens. After all is said and done, My Xperience will still rule the dancehalls. (ES)

WORLDBEAT

The Sound Of The Beat

Various artists (The Right Stuff 72438–37527–20)

An unusual CD compiled for the 15th anniversary of the Beat magazine. The songs, nominated by Beat contributors, include a little-known remix of David Rudder’s Bacchanal Lady, the only soca on the album; a third of the selections feature Jamaican music. There is a Haitian track and some Afro-Latin crossover; African music from Zaire and Senegal rounds off the album. The best-known song here is the rap hit by Sergio Mendes, What is This. A highly rhythmic, avant-garde album, this will make you get up and dance. (DJ)

RAPSO

Come Out In De Road, Warrior

Chantwell (Rituals of Trinidad CO896)

Say indigenous pop culture about ten times like a mantra and then we might begin to believe it, says rapso artist Rubadiri Victor. The dreadlocked youngster wants a pop culture indigenous to Trinidad and Tobago, and that’s the starting point for this album, put together by Chantwell (which comprises Victor and “whoever (he) rope in for a song or two”). A few years ago, Chantwell’s debut Clear de Way was notable for its sheer jubilance: this new compilation follows the path. The drumming on Storm alone can rattle windows and bones alike, and the voice of Ella Andall is a big attraction. Warrior captures the spirit of rapso in the 90s — a sound decidedly Trinidadian and certainly a popular part of its culture. (NM)

STEELBAND

Cleaning Up This World

Rasa

Rasa is the US-based Trinidad-born pannist Franklyn Cameron, and the music on this disc he calls Caripop (Caribbean and Pop). The album is only five tracks long, but it’s big on sounds. Steel Drum Soca Jam for instance has all the right ingredients — a whining sax, a pulsating bass, guitar licks and the sweet sound of steel, while child’s play seems to be the thought behind Dopey Dancing — a craftily constructed song with a catchy hook line (you’ll understand why Cameron said he wrote the song “for the kids”). Cameron’s voice is a little rough around the edges, but with the quality of work here, you’d hardly notice. Rasa, by the way, is Sanskrit for pleasure. (ES)