Upbeat (March/April 1999)

New Caribbean Music

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CALYPSO

Living Legends Of Calypso: The Glamour Boys Again

Various artists (XPATZ Music, New York, 1998)

Eight singers are featured on this album, some of them more vintage than others. Mighty Power contributes Ah Comin’ and Wastin’ Yuh Time; Lord Blakie offers his classic Steelband Clash and Arabian Festival; Scrunter sings his Woman On The Bass; and King Fighter adds Pajama Suit (“Daddy, a man in you pajama suit!”) and Come Leh We Go. From Lord Brigo come Obey and Stuttering Mopsy, from Mystic Prowler Lord Melody’s No, Is Ah Jumbie and Spoiler’s Cat Brain; from Mighty Composer Child Training and Supposin’; and from Lord Funny, Farmer Brown and Sweet Trinidad. There are some fine songs here which deserve new exposure. But they all get the slick Errol Ince/Pelham Goddard studio treatment, complete with pre-programmed percussion, which may just persuade a new generation to dance to them but which strips the songs of their original flavour and humour. The singers try to rise to the occasion, but not every heart is in it: Blakie’s laugh is forced, his steelbands barely clash, Brigo forgets we can’t see his antics, even Composer’s child trainers fall a bit flat, and everybody’s timing has to submit to the relentless drive of the drums and bass. The guys really need a live audience and a live drummer. The liner notes hype the return of the Glamour Boys, but offer no help with basic things like dates. This album raises again the question of how far classic calypso can be reshaped for today’s tastes without losing its soul. (JT)

SOCA

Hot Zone

krosfyah (Kalingo Recordings)

This new krosfyah release contains 14 original cuts by lead singer Edwin Yearwood and lead guitarist Tony Bailey. The nine Yearwood tunes include Appetite, a nice swing soca song with a rhythm that’s easy on the ears. In Don’t Bother Me Yearwood evokes a swinging French island rhythm without losing the distinctly English-speaking Caribbean texture. Too Sexy is an uptempo tune “I’m too sexy for winter, but never too sexy for soca”; Oil Pumping renders Yearwood’s usual excellent harmonies and a joyous melody and is one of the more pleasing songs on this release. No Behaviour is very typical of the style that made him so famous across the region, with a pumping style to it. In Mi System is one of the CD’s more melodious cuts, while Sarah, which Yearwood wrote for the island’s Heroes Day, is a tribute to one of the named heroic figures, Sarah Gill. Hammertime is one of his better soca songs and could be a serious contender for Barbados’s road march come August. These nine tunes prove Yearwood remains a prolific lyricist whose writing talent continues to thrive and grow. Somewhat under-noticed, Tony Bailey is slowly proving to be a solid song-spinner in his own right. His four original songs include Hotty Hotty Gal, a swinging dance tune, and Calor, which contains more depth of lyrics and an intricate musical arrangement. An uptempo song with French island-influenced background harmonies, Calor has a strangely religious theme. Bailey’s other two songs, Woody Wood Pecker and Horsie, offer a slightly off-beat approach to soca with amusing double entendre throughout. The CD’s one Edwin/Tony collaboration, Love Walks Alone, is a moving ballad that provides an opportunity to catch Bailey’s bluesy guitar talent, which is often lost in the calypso and soca genre. An all-round good CD that stands up well against krofyah’s famed, award-winning Pump Me Up release of a few years ago. (RK)

POP/R&B

We Are For The People

4 D People (Love Hit Music)

Sweet melodies, outstanding harmonies and excellent all-around musicianship are the hallmarks of this CD by the recently-renamed Barbadian band 4 D People. This is the second release by this five-member group, first known as IV Play. Primarily an R & B group, 4 D People is one of Barbados’s leading bands, although a bit underrated because their contemporary style steps away from the typically Caribbean soca/reggae genres. Band leader and bassman Philip Forrester brings many years of experience to the band, guiding these talented youngsters to offer a refreshing and innovative approach to the regional music scene. Nine of the ten cuts are originals by group members. Lead singer Toni Norville wrote several tunes, including her widely popular Love Will Never Let You Down. Title song For The People, currently enjoying wide acclaim as well, was a collaborative effort by three of the band members. This is one of those rare albums where every song is strong and worthy of its place. The strength of this group lies in their powerful harmonies, pleasing melodies and creative lyrics. This second release is further proof that 4D People is a prolific, multi-talented band. (RK)