Three tracks from Side One of an LP on the Camille label of Barbados. 1973.
1. Garrot Bounce - Lord Nelson 2. Wet Your hands - King Obstinate 3. Sparrow Melody Horse Race - Lord Melody
"Carnival songs began to be called "calypsos" around 1900. The roots of calypso lie in African-Trinidadian stickfighting songs, drum dance songs and other folk traditions. Lead singers, or "chantwells," of Carnival songs performed both in the "yards" (headquarters) of masquerade bands and on the streets during the festival itself. Often they sang in French Creole, the vernacular language of the majority of Africans in Trinidad during the nineteenth century. By the turn of the century, however, some chantwells were singing Carnival songs in English, the language of the island's colonial rulers who had become more influential than the old French plantation owners.
The French Creole calypsos of working-class Trinidadians often had two line stanzas, sung by a chantwell and chorus in a call and response fashion. These songs were typically accompanied by pieces of bamboo used as percussion instruments. Meanwhile, the growing influence of the middle class in Carnival was reflected in the composition of English-language calypsos with four or eight line stanzas, which were perceived to be more sophisticated. These songs were generally accompanied by stringed instruments, associated with the musical traditions of nearby Venezuela. The lyrics of both types of calypsos of this era often included boasts and witty derision of rivals."
Another calypso record from Brick Lane picked up in the 80's. It's on the cleverly titled Kalypso label and released in 1963.
"Christo made a living as a cabinet-maker and sang in church choirs before he became the lead singer for the John "Buddy" Williams Band in the 1940s. His calypso career began in 1952 when he appeared at Atilla the Hun's Victory Tent. He then joined the McLean Brothers and accompanied them on a tour of the USA in December 1952. He later moved over to the Young Brigade Tent in 1955. The Young Brigade Tent became the Original Young Brigade Tent (OYB) in 1956, and Christo continued to sing with the OYB until he left for Chicago, Ilinois, USA, where he appeared at various nightclubs and on television. He returned to Trinidad in 1960 and continued to sing at the OYB for the rest of his career. Although he never won a title, Christo's popular songs "Miss Universe" and "Chicken Chest" were tailor-made for steelbands and were played extensively on the road during the 1957 Carnival."
A great archive of old calypso HERE at Irwin Chusid's radio show in the last hour. Well worth a listen if you like this kind of stuff. The first couple of hours is good too!
An excerpt from a radio show dubbed to a tape that a friend sent me a few months back. Not much info. about Little Jack Little could be found at the time but since then a few more snippets of his biography have emerged. Recorded at the Green Room of the Edison Hotel in New York.
1. Hortense 2. You Taught Me To Love Again 3. Crazy Rythym 4. Bolero Medley
"Little Jack Little was a 1930s bandleader and singer who enjoyed a major hit with "Hold Me" in the mid-'30s -- another song with which he was closely associated was "You Oughta Be in Pictures." He was a master of a singing-talking technique that was popular in the 1930s, and he was successful until his violinist, Mitchell Ayres (aka Mitchell Agress), bolted from the orchestra with some of its other best members and formed their own band. Little later led a bolero rhythm orchestra -- he is best remembered by Honeymooners fans for his mention, alongside Basil Fomeen and Ted Fiorito, by Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden in the episode "Young at Heart," as he recalls the bands that used to play at the Sons of Italy Hall in Brooklyn. Little passed away in 1955."
I have a soft spot for novelty R&B acts and Wynonie Harris certainly fits this category. The songs are full of fun and rock along with a lot of style and infection. This double LP on the Gusto label was bought from Brick Lane many years ago. It contains most of his big hits and a few obscurities.
"No blues shouter embodied the rollicking good times that he sang of quite like raucous shouter Wynonie Harris. "Mr. Blues," as he was not-so-humbly known, joyously related risque tales of sex, booze, and endless parties in his trademark raspy voice over some of the jumpingest horn-powered combos of the postwar era.
Those wanton ways eventually caught up with Harris, but not before he scored a raft of R&B smashes from 1946 to 1952. Harris was already a seasoned dancer, drummer, and singer when he left Omaha for L.A. in 1940 (his main influences being Big Joe Turner and Jimmy Rushing). He found plenty of work singing and appearing as an emcee on Central Avenue, the bustling nightlife strip of the Black community there. Wynonie Harris's reputation was spreading fast -- he was appearing in Chicago at the Rhumboogie Club in 1944 when bandleader Lucky Millinder hired him as his band's new singer. With Millinder's orchestra in brassy support, Harris made his debut on shellac by boisterously delivering "Who Threw the Whiskey in the Well" that same year for Decca. By the time it hit in mid-1945, Harris was long gone from Millinder's organization and back in L.A. "
"As the Singing Postman, Allan Smethurst benefited from the British public’s endearing sympathy for the underdog. His most popular hit, Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?, momentarily outsold the Beatles — in East Anglia, at least — and for a few weeks became a national catchphrase. But like many novelty stars before and since, his 15 minutes of fame was little more than that, and after four albums he faded from the public consciousness ending his days as an alcoholic in the care of the Salvation Army. Smethurst, a postman from Norfolk who hummed his tunes on his daily round, bought his guitar from Woolworths in 1949 and started writing and playing his own dialect songs, initially confining his activities to his bedroom. “It was ten years afore I dare let people hear them,” he once admitted. Plucking up the courage to send a tape to the BBC in Norwich, he was given a spot on a local radio show compered by a sales promotion man, Ralph Tuck, who promptly founded a record label called The Smallest Recording Organisation in the World to promote the Singing Postman. The 100 discs which Tuck had cut in the early weeks of 1966 promptly sold out and Smethurst became an overnight star, ousting the Beatles from the top of the East Anglian hit parade." It was sadly downhill from then on. He took up drink to try and cure his crippling stage fright but obviously he was destined to be a "one hit wonder" and the music biz moved on to the next novelty act.
This is a CD I found in a charity shop but not second hand. Dr. Barnados sell a whole range of these vintage British Comedy CD's for a little under three quid. Most are excellent and contain such stars as George Formby, Will Hay, Norman Wisdom, Max Miller etc. You can find them HERE.
"Charlie was born (as Cecil Victor Manser) in Eastbourne, East Sussex, and became a singer in his youth before turning to comedy. Known as 'Cheeky' Charlie Chester he was well-known to British audiences in the 1940s from his BBC radio show Stand Easy. This show was adapted for television as The Charlie Chester Show in 1949 and became a standup/sketch show for the next 11 years. Frequent cast members included Edwina Carroll, Eric 'Jeeves' Grier, Len Lowe, Deryck Guyler, Len Marten, Arthur Haynes and Fred Ferrari. His radio shows included A Proper Charlie and That Man Chester. Another series - which started out as a sketch - was Pot Luck (1957). In 1961, Chester starred in a new BBC series called Charlie Chester On Laughter Service, a music and comedy show which visited forces bases throughout Britain. Most of these shows were co-written by Chester colloborators Bernard Botting and Charlie Hart. Late on in his career, he appeared in the Channel 4 sitcom Never Say Die. In the 1960s he also began presenting a record show on the BBC Light Programme (later Radio 2)."
An excerpt from a promo CD to tie in with the release of his 1990 album "King Strut & Other Stories". Someone dubbed it to a tape for me at the time so no other details with it.
Wikipedia says -
"Peter Blegvad (born 14 August 1951) is an American musician, singer-songwriter, and cartoonist. He was a founding member of the avant-rock band Slapp Happy which later merged briefly with Henry Cow and has released many solo and collaborative albums since Slapp Happy split up. He collaborated with bassist John Greaves (recording Kew. Rhône with Greaves in 1977) and a much later collection of spoken word pieces set to Greaves' music, Unearthed. In the 1980s, he released a number of commercially-unsuccessful albums on the Virgin Records label, including The Naked Shakespeare and Knights Like This, both of which show the influence of external producers with fulsome and contemporary instrumentation. By contrast, Downtime, an independent release in the late 1980s features mainly very simple demos, often recorded cheaply in professional studios' "downtime". King Strut and Other Stories (Virgin, 1990) is a collection of short stories set to simply-arranged, professionally-produced music played in many cases by noted session musicians. The album features XTC's Andy Partridge while Orpheus - The Lowdown (2003) is a whole album in collaboration with Partridge. Many of Blegvad's albums feature former members of Slapp Happy and Henry Cow and Slapp Happy have re-formed on occasion for specific projects."