Classic calypso, one of the greatest creations of Caribbean culture, is more than the frivolous music played for tourists in pink hotels overlooking tropical beaches. Much traditional calypso is also social commentary and has reflected, sometimes not so subtly, Trinidad's difficult social and political evolution. This book is about the people who made calypso, the topical music of Trinidad's Carnival, and about the society that spawned it. Hill follows calypso from its 18th-century origins in Carnival street music to Carnival tents and later to the club circuit and recording sessions in the United States and Britain, up to the moment in the 1950s when the great pioneer calypsonians - The Growling Tiger, Lord Invader, The Roaring Lion, Attila the Hun, and the rest of the first generation - had finally passed into what one of its members called "the atmosphere". The participants' opinion of the development of their art comprises a large part of the book. Reading about music is not the same as listening to it, so a compact disk accompanies this book. Hill has collected a sampling of the history of Calypso on record, and the result is a collector's dream - a compilation of largely rare tracks from the Smithsonian, other archives and commercial studios. Hill has illustrated his book with 61 photographs of calypsonians and the paraphernelia of recorded music, and with transcriptions of the lyrics of over 30 of the most important calypso songs, a glossary of calypso terms and an annotated discography of calypso recordings. This overview of the development of calypso should appeal to students of the Caribbean and ethnomusicology, to folklorists and record collectors and to anyone who has hummed along with "Brown-skin Girl" or "Mary Ann" ("Down by the seaside sifting sand").
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.