Freitag, 10. Juni 2016

Neville Marcano - The Growling Tiger Of Calypso (Rounder, 1998)

Known as the "Growling Tiger of Calypso," Neville Marcano was noted for his skill at both political/current events-inspired songs and tunes with more conventional folk/romantic themes. A teenage flyweight champion boxer, he became a calypso singer by profession after placing high in local calypso competitions in the mid-1930s. Marcano recorded nearly 50 tracks for Decca, favoring minor-keyed melodies and a delivery influenced by the French patois he had spoken as a child; his first calypso composition was about a labor dispute, though he would write about all kinds of subjects throughout his career. He enjoyed some degree of international recognition after being recorded by folklorist Alan Lomax in the early 1960s, and appeared at the Newport Folk Festival; he also recorded an album for Rounder in the late 1970s. Much of his early work can be found on several anthologies, most of which are on the Rounder label.

Most of this  album was recorded by Alan Lomax in Trinidad in 1962, with a traditional-styled band backing with flute, fiddle, guitar, bass, and percussion. It's pretty well-recorded, Marcano is in good vocal form, and the band has a fine loose, informal vibe. This largely sticks to songs about romance and gently moralistic tales, getting into more serious territory with "War" (sung with Lord Iere and Indian Prince), with its references to the atomic bomb. The tunes have Marcano's trademark minor-key melodies, yet they're sung and played in a jovial style that makes them rather uplifting. Two tracks recorded at the 1966 Newport Folk Festival - Marcano talking at length about calypso music, and an a cappella "Atomic Energy Calypso" - are tough to enjoy because of the mediocre fidelity and dry unaccompanied vocals.
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(320 kbps, front cover included)

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