CLASSICS: SOCA AND CALYPSO (SINGLES)
This particular song is very personal to me. This song takes me back to my fondest memories with my grandpa. He use to play this group all the time, and it also happens to be one of my many many favorite classic calypso jams. The song is called “Ring Ting Ting,” by The Merrymen. I had trouble pinpointing the release date, but I know it had to have been the late 60s or early 70s. The dates that currently appears I think are “digital release dates,” or “re-release dates.” This was a very popular song, and although there are only 329 Shazams recorded (at least the song off this particular album), the group itself received over 10k Shazams. That is amazing! That means in this day and age, people still remember them! It also means that older folk are finally using technology, ’cause ain’t no young folk interested in this song! Just being honest 😀 I found this song to be so hilarious, because we mostly heard songs from women about their man giving them material things; but with this song, the woman wears the pants in the family, and the roles are reversed. LOL. The Merrymen are from Barbados, and released quite a few songs. However, Ring Ting Ting, was the only one I remembered growing up.
Wow, I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I’ve shared a calypso gem. But then again, there are millions and millions of classics, we can’t possibly post them all (and I wouldn’t try LOL). I have a good one for you tonight! The artist’s name is Scrunter (goodness, I don’t understand why any artist would give themselves that name), and the song is called “Woman On The Bass.” This was a 12 inch single album released in 1980, under Keynote Records. However, Spotify has the shorter version, but it’s the original (which is most important). When I was a little, every get-together my family had, this song was played. It was almost mandatory LOL. This calypso brought back so much memories for me, it’s ridiculous! This album was played at least 3 times before the party was over. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any real information about this artist to share with you, other than the fact that he was born in Trinidad. Such a disappointment! His music is all over YouTube, and absolutely no text as to how he contributed to calypso music. Not even Wikipedia (well, I did find one, but it appeared to be in French). Damn..
I’ve heard many different opinions about Sparrow’s music. Personally, I just think a lot of his music sounds too identical, so identical I’m shocked he was able to sell so many albums. It was as if he was preparing for the same Carnival over and over again. But, love him, hate him, he’s been around forever, and has been called by many of his peers “the calypso king.” Sparrow has made tons and tons of albums over his long career. He’s in his 80s now and doubt he’s still performing. Listen to this classic on Spotify.
I’m not sure if any of my Caribbean visitors would remember this album. Soca Earthquake by Machel Montano was one of the biggest soca album of 1987. Not sure how old he was when he did this album (I estimate probably about 13 years old); but when I heard this album, it was clear that music was in his blood then (and still is). I can’t believe it has already been 28 years since this album was released! There wasn’t one West Indian household that wasn’t either playing this record, or begging someone to make a copy of it for them. The biggest hit off this album was a song called “I.” “I” was the hottest song on the entire 4 song album. Everybody got up to dance when “I” was spinning on the turntable. In fact, people used to almost always request re-plays in my house. There was another song that was nice to, which was “Earthquake.” The other two last songs “School Days Soca,” and “Mother’s Child,” were ok, but they didn’t make me feel I wanted to dance. I think with 2 hits out of 4 songs, the last two tempo should have been a little faster in order to keep that momentum. Today, Machel Montano looks so different here. I know he’s had quite a bit of hits since then; but for me, I will always remember him for this album “Soca Earthquake.” You’d proably pay a pretty penny for this album now, cause it will most likely be an import (I think). However, here is the album on streaming.
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Calypso Rose (McArtha Linda Sandy-Lewis) was dubbed the calypso queen of of all time. At age 75, Mrs. Rose is still performing and filling people’s hearts with culture and dance! In 2011, she was given the Africa Festival Lifetime Achievement Award. Rose is probably best known for a song I believe was responsible for making her the megastar she is today, called Fire In Me Wire. Unfortunately, I am having trouble pin pointing the original release date right now. I only see the digital release date, which is 2009. But I’m guessing it was between 1970 and 1975. Everybody was dancing to “Fire In Me Wire!” Most of the time I hated to dance, but when that song came on, I was dancing it up! This was one of those songs you HAD to dance, simply because it’s fun and it made you move your body. If you ever throw a Caribbean party with seasoned folks, throw that song on your playlist, and you’re guaranteed to get the entire house dancing! Calypso Rose also has a documentary I recommend everyone see and it’s called “Calypso Rose – The Lioness Of The Jungle.” Lastly, I heard a song recently, again I’m not sure what is the original release date (sounds resent tho); but she sang an absolutely BEAUTIFUL rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “I Say A Little Prayer For You.” I never heard anyone sang this song so nice before. Any Calypso Rose fans out there, I highly recommend you check that out.
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Today, when people think of calypso music, they think of jumping up and party, dancing, good food, and lots of eye candy! However, calypso music is also about world issues and politics (very much in the same way that reggae is. The Caribbean music has always been about raising awareness! The Mighty Sparrow (Slinger Francisco) was no exception when it came to political awareness. In 1958 Sparrow was the only person to have a triple win in the same year during the “Carnival Road March.” The first song was called “P.A.Y.E” which talked about the importance of paying taxes in Tobago and Trinidad. The second song was “Russian Satellite,” which talked about cruelty to animals. The last song was called “Theresa,” which in essence was a song about a gold-digging woman. This was the first time in Sparrow’s career that he sang both English and Spanish. Actually it was still mostly in English, I guess because bilingual music wasn’t really performed, people was crazy in love with the song.
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