Continuing our trip around the Caribbean to the other islands (that is, not Jamaica, Cuba, or Trinidad) we sail to The Bahamas. Now I thought that this series would be a way to bring some sunshine to the depths of winter, but actually, our first album today, "Carnival in Paradise" from 1962, begins with "Chippy's Junkanoo Street Carnival," a spellbindingly dark, heavily-echoed track that's all weird noises and panning drums, creating an evil voodoo atmosphere. Pure junkanoo music, like a 1964 Nonesuch album I have called "Junkanoo Drums," is as African as Caribbean music gets, favoring just percussion and singing, with few other instruments. It's the usual party-time calypso-ish stuff, nothing as psychedelic as this track. And yet, it's supposedly a Christmas song!
Didn't think anything could top it, 'til an absolutely deranged woman started singing, and I realized that the second song was almost as mental as the first. Along the way we get some goombay music (more on that later), steel drums, straight-ahead Trinidad-style calypsos, and a tiki bar-ready version of that exotica standard "Yellow Bird." Some familiar songs like "Shame and Scandal" sound fresh here in their new goombay setting. An excellent collection,and one that really sounds like that album cover.
"Carnival in Paradise"
1. Chippy's Junkanoo Champions "Chippy's Junkanoo Street Carnival"
2. The Eloise Trio "Come To The Caribbean"
3. Richie Delamore "Goombay"
4. Lord Cody & Kasavubu "Gin And Coconut Water"
5. Richie Delamore "The Limbo" [killer version of a song also recorded as "Limbo Like Me"]
6. Lionel Latmore "Shame & Scandal"
7. Little Sparrow "The Garrett Bounce"
8. Lionel Latmore "Wings Of A Dove"
9. Ray Shurland "Yellow Bird"
10. Tony Alleyne & The Big Bamboo Orchestra "Junkanoo In Nassau"
11. Ray Shurland "Bahama Lullaby"
George Symonette plays a more typical brand of goombay, the name of both a style native to the Bahamas and the drum used to create it, a big booming thing held between one's legs while seated. Symonette was a popular band leader in the hotels of Nassau, so he had to play some hits - famous Jamaican/Trinidadian calypsos like "Brown Skin Gal" are included on this 1956 album, but there's plenty of local color, too - one track on this album, "Peanuts Plays The Drum," is a fiery demonstration of pure goombay drumming.
George Symonette "Goombay Rhythms"
1. Hold Him Joe
2. Gin and Cocoanut Water
3. The Crow
4. Push Push
5. Peanuts Plays The Drum
8. Brown Skin Girl
9. Come Here Liza
10. Wanna Do Nothing All Day
12. Can't Get No Sweetness Out Of Me
I noticed that my copy of this record is more worn on side two. Side one's plenty fun, what with Symonette's crow impressions and whatnot, but there's some double-entendre tunes on side two that must have been pretty saucy stuff for the '50s. And I'm guessing that's why side two got so much more play. Shame and scandal, indeed.