Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Week 5(ish) Charity Shop Gem of the Week: Le Steel-Band De La Trinidad ‎– Magie Caraïbe

This week, we welcome our esteemed guest contributor Dan Wall from Funky Navigation, to provide our features...

When Ralph MacDonald sang 'You need more Calypso in your life' he wasn't playin' with ya; you probably do ...and he knew it. There's nothing like a bit of Calypso to raise the spirits and inject some Caribbean swag into your stride. It's like Berocca for the ears. 
Despite the rather ordinary and unassuming title title, this Charity Shop Gem of The Week is no ordinary Calypso LP.  What you get here is an alternate take on the sound of Trinidad; this is a Trinidad after-party, the type not advertised to tourists. Gone is the usual gaiety synonymous with steel bands, this has a different vision, a dark side. The arrangements are sublime, some straight pan, others mixing conga and electric guitar. The tune selection is also pretty surprising. 'Coming Home' is a tidy, low-slung version of the Ben Tucker penned tune 'Coming Home, Baby',  popularised by Mel Torme. The arrangement and lazy vocal styling on their cover of Gershwin's 'Summertime' is so insanely good, one can feel an instant increase in temperature and humidity as it plays. Then there is their unique proto-reggae take on the traditional island ballad - 'L'Homme A La Grosse Tête'; a bitter sweet song full of disillusionment and sorrowful observation, which at 1.57 minutes is the aural equivalent of a shot of Angostura Legacy Rum. If that alone doesn't hook you there are also two original numbers from steel pan legend - Desmond Bowen (sadly no longer with us) that suitably demonstrates that these boys knew exactly what they were doing. The latter of which, 'Calypso Jazz improvisation', can be heard on this Month's Curious Music For Curious People podcast.

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