Thursday, January 27, 2011

Forgotten Music -- Calypso

Okay, we all know calypso music's not forgotten. However, it's certainly not as big in the U. S. as it once was. One of the first big hits was "Drinking Rum and Coca-Cola" by the Andrews Sisters back in 1944. This is a cover version of a Lord Invader song, but the words of the this version were credited to Morey Amsterdam (Buddy of The Dick Van Dyke Show). Lord Invader sued and received compensation.
It wasn't until the middle 1950s, however, that the calypso craze swept over the continent. One of the reasons was Harry Belafonte. His album Calypso (1956) was the first LP to sell more than a million copies. "Day-O" or "The Banana Boat Song" from that recording was a huge single hit.
The Tarriers, a folk trio that included Alan Arkin, also had a bit hit with a somewhat different version of the song the same year.
And we shouldn't forget Stan Freberg's great parody record, which probably sold a few million of its own.
Even Robert Mitchum got in on things, recording an album called Calypso . . . Is Like So. Here's a little number from that one.
None of these songs is true calypso, but they're all entertaining popularized versions of it. If you like them, do some exploring on YouTube and you can find things such as Lord Invader's original version of "Rum and Coca-Cola." Check it out.


George said...

Wow, these bring back some memories! Calypso had a brief popularity, then just sort of faded. But this music is great!

Jerry House said...

And the Kingston Trio started out as a calypso group.

Todd Mason said...

Calypso faded in popularity in the US, but was still strong in the Caribbean, where it fed into the development of ska, rock steady and particularly reggae. Sir Lancelot, as an actor as well as singer in I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943), was a notable Stateside taste of the Real Thing before the Andrews Sisters.

Deb said...

I love "Rum and Coca-Cola, but seeing that it was quite frank about the mother and daughter being prostitutes, I'm always surprised that it was a big hit.

BTW, Lord Invader would be a good name for a rock band.