Various Artists Calypsoul 70 Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

You get the idea. It's brilliant.

Tim Nelson 2008

Following Nigeria 70, Strut records turn to the Caribbean for Calypsoul 70, a compilation of calypso, reggae, latin, afro and soul styles from the 1970s. This is a tremendously exciting compilation that makes so many new connections and uncovers so many rarities that it amounts to a total re-education in 1970s Caribbean music. Crucially, though, it never forgets to be fun, and best of all, there's loads of it.

Focusing on a time when soul, funk, and disco inspired Caribbean musicians to create powerful new fusions, the album never falls into a dry, scholarly approach by cataloguing work by style or origin, but plays like a great party set from the start. The Revolution Of St Vincent's The Little You Say and The Rolling Tones' It's a Feeling set the mood, combining calypso with jazz funk to startlingly original conclusions. Not all of the influences here are musical, however, and the importance of black power on many of the track is another revelation, from 'rapso' pioneer, Lancelot Layne, to the soul reggae of Tyrone Taylor. The keynote track here, though, has to be Biosis Now's Independent Bahamas. Neither are African links forgotten, thanks to the afrobeat-inspired Freedom In Africa.

Social commentary and political pleas are only one element of this compilation, though. Check out the awesome Trinidad steel pan cover of 90% Of Me Is You, the insane carnival of Clarence Curvan's Calypsoul, or the tipsy arrangements of Checkmate's Disco Groove. Then there's the marching band cover of You Don't Love Me and the mutated Dave Brubeck arrangements of the Wadadli Experience. And as for the latin stylings of Martinique's Marius Cultier, salsa masters Los Van Van, and the soul and disco fusions of St Lucia's Magic Circle and Dominica's Ophelia… well, you get the idea. It's brilliant. We could go on. And hopefully, Strut Records will.

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