Kaiso No 16 - January 1, 1999

A happy new year as we look forward to 1999 Carnival and calypso, it is cold, cold up here in Fairbanks.  At midnight my son and I were at a party in front of a bonfire on a hill outside of town with fireworks and an exploding ginger bread house.  It was a balmy 5 above after being a chilling -15 earlier in the day.  Things here are fine.  I look forward to a day long hearing on Monday on the scientific validity of moose DNA testing related to pending charges against a big game guide.  But enough of the mindless details of life in the Frozen North, time to talk calypso.

St Croix Calypso Monarch

My Virgin Island calypso correspondent, Carmen Nibbs-O'Gara reports that last weekend the final for the 98/99 St Croix calypso competition was won by Revengade, Lloyd Rene.  His song on the Clinton/Monica situation was called The Mess on the Dress.  He says its the mess on the dress make the President confess.

Where Oh Where Are the New Releases?

As normal, if not worse than normal, so many fanatics for the latest crop of CDs and singles for '99 must continue to wait to buy their records, if they ever get to buy them.  The Guardian yesterday had a story by Peter Ray Blood on how the great majority of things on the radio in Trinidad are not available in stores.  I called JW Records in New York yesterday and things are worse there.  The only new releases they had are from Crazy and Gypsy.  Current bestsellers in T&T are Gypsy's Fullah Fire and Rudder's International Chantuelle.

Alvin Daniel's annual compilation, 1999 Calypso Compilation should in the stores any day in time for big launch on January 6.  The artists include Sparrow, Steve Sealy, Prowler, Melanie Hudson, Wayne Rodriguez, Shanaqua and a couple others.  Sparrow sings Play my Music composed by Pelham Goddard, Sparrow and Daniel.  It will be the Panorama tune for Exodus.  Sealy sings Trini know How composed by Brian Griffith and Daniel.   Daniel's The Panman on Tenth Avenue tells of the dream of every pan man to make it big in the US of A.  I can't wait to hear this!


I talked earlier this week to Conqueror and Valentino who were in Brooklyn and leave Monday to go down to Trinidad.  Conqueror had a good new full length CD called Toward a Brighter Horizon that includes soca versions of his classics, Women and Money and Dictionary including several recent recordings including his Carrreira Party about how a group of prison inmates responded to a calypso show with the first female they had seen in a while.

One early and rather cynical song of his that I like that was never recorded is:

Good Name (1963)

Good name is to men and women
A very precious gem so they say
And if you kind-hearted, friendly and gentle
Never despair you must find your way
But I feel that they lying
Cause I tired trying
So correct me I may be wrong
Charitable Rouse dead in the poor house
Honest Jobe living in shanty town.

Good name ain't for people who poor like me
That is for men living in luxury
What's the sense you have good name
Ah big set ah false fame
And still you catching your donkey
Better they call you bad say you lousy and hard
And you living grand like a king
Then they pat you on your back
And call you kind hearted Jack
And you ain't got a blooming thing

The best policy to be honest
I sure you heart this from since you small
But ah want you to stop and take notice
Honest people don't prosper at all
If you get two out of twenty
Well say you get plenty
The balance don't care how they try
Is a grin or a smile from the fellow with the pile
Who accustom living in style

What a very confusing quotation
To my opinion take it from me
Well it don't worth the paper it write on
You don't believe it you look and see
Alright you kind and you friendly
You love everybody but you poor like me
A blooming door mouse
And your neighbor Mr.  Gruff
Who always rough and tough
Have he TV he car and he house

Well you make many friends when you friendly
But when you cashy you make more
So that's the sense having good name
And you broken to buy a pants
You have to band you jaw
I learn from hindrance
Put this in the back of your head
To be poor and have a good name
Nothing but this false fame
Believe me better you dead.

Regrettably, Conquy is never given his due as a calypsonian!

Rounder Records

Rounder continues to issue more great calypso anthologies.  Coming February 9 and produced by Dick Spottswood and John Cowley is Fall of Man: Calypsos on the Human Condition 1935-1941 , Rounder 1141.  Philosophy, superstition, life, death, money, status and male / female relations all receive attention in these selections.  Fall of Man contains 25 calypsos recorded from 1935 to 1941, all digitally remastered for compact disc.

Ray Funk

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