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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

VARIOUS ARTISTS

By PAUL-ÉMILE COMEAU
Published April 19, 2006

LEGENDS OF CALYPSO
Arc

This compilation features 25 tracks by 11 different singers, all from the ’40s and ’50s. Some, such as André Toussaint, Blind Blake (not the blues singer) and Mighty Panther are well-known and are given several cuts. Others are more obscure and get to make fewer contributions, though equally interesting. Harold “Digby” McNair, a jazz musician who later recorded with Donovan and others from that era, sings about a “Zombie Jamboree.” Although most of the songs are witty, Brownie’s “The Bedbug Song” is an especially amusing song about reincarnation.  Colin Kelly’s “The Snorkel Song” is another weird novelty, this one about swallowing a ping-pong ball from a snorkel tube. Calypso Mama was known for sexual innuendos, as in “Don’t Touch My Tomato.” Speaking of sexual imagery, Mighty Panther sings his famous “The Big Bamboo,” a fitting theme for a Viagra commercial. The most famous are probably “Matilda” and “Yellow Bird,” sung here by Calypso Eddie and André Toussaint.