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Lyr Add: Calypso Island

GUEST,Phil d'Conch 22 Mar 16 - 02:53 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 22 Mar 16 - 02:57 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 23 Mar 16 - 11:45 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 23 Mar 16 - 11:48 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 23 Mar 16 - 12:02 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: Calypso Island
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 22 Mar 16 - 02:53 PM

"Calypso Island"
Exporting the Local, Particularizing the Region, and Developing the Sounds of Goombay

"...referring in its very title to a musical genre associated most closely with Trinidad, was composed by a native New Yorker named Alice Simms, a frequent winter resident in the Bahamas. This song performed by most artists active in the goombay years and recorded by many, illustrates the complexities and slippages attendant to musical life in the Bahamas during the 1950s and 1960s. For starters, the lyrics, directed as they are towards the exoticizing expectations of tourists, open a window onto the economic framework within which Bahamian musicians were working at the time."


Calypso island is calling, calypso island is calling.
Beat the drum again, drink the rum again,
Having fun again, everyone.
Do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do,
Like the natives do.

Palm trees swaying, calypso playing
Your love is waiting there just for you.
Do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do,
Like the natives do.

Calypso island is just for lovers,
Romantic lovers, there are no others.
Calypso island, enchanted island,
It makes you do, do,
Like the natives do.

Don't resist it, you know you miss it.
A million thrills waiting just for you.
Do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do,
Like the natives do


(Rommen, Timothy, Funky Nassau, Berkeley: U. of California Press, 2011, pp.82-82)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Calypso Island
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 22 Mar 16 - 02:57 PM

More Simms a la Rommen:

"These lyrics amply illustrate what Mimi Sheller has called the renaturalization of Caribbean bodies within a naturalized Caribbean. Put otherwise, the romance and freedom ostensibly accruing to those visitors willing to "do like the natives do" was generated in and through the "objectification of Caribbean people as part of the natural landscape; the equation of that landscape (and hence those who people it) with sexuality and corruption; and finally, the marketing of the Caribbean via imagined geographies of tropical enticement and sexual availability… Thus a sexuality drawing on the colonial past and its racial and gender hierarchies is coded into the representation of Caribbean landscapes and the tourist pleasures to be found there (Sheller and Urry 2004, 17-18)"

(ibid, p.83)

The author devotes much of the chapter to excursii on the evolution of "Calypso Island" covers by four Bahamian goombay artists:

1. George Symonette (and His Goombay Sextet)(Bahama Records LP 28, 1959, track A1)
2. Eloise Lewis (The Eloise Trio, Decca DL78982; Brunswick LAT 8340, 1960, track B5)
3. King Eric and His (Calypso) Knights (Bahamas Treasure Chest, LP-2016, 1961, track A5)
4. Peanuts Taylor (Showtime at the Drumbeat, Tropical Recording Co. Ltd., LP-2470, 1964, track B6)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Calypso Island
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 23 Mar 16 - 11:45 AM

A fuller examination of the Alice Simms bio and "Calypso Island" origins:

"...referring in its very title to a musical genre associated most closely with Trinidad,..."

No. A million times no. American Harry Belafonte's third studio effort and second consecutive number-one album "Calypso" spent 31 weeks on the American "Billboard" pop charts. The world's first million-seller LP (allegedly) still holds the title of the most commercially successful "calypso" release in history. It contains almost no politically correct calypso and the artist had never set foot under a calypso tent (RCA, LPM-1248, 1956.) This is the real world, 1950s entertainment market in which Alice D. Simms worked, not in the lecture hall or a text book. And just like contemporaries Attaway, Belafonte, Burgie & Luboff it was her profession.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Calypso Island
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 23 Mar 16 - 11:48 AM

"…a native New Yorker… a frequent winter resident in the Bahamas"

Relevant: Also a card-carrying ASCAP composer-author with a BA from Cornell and a working member of the American Tin Pan Alley and Bahamian entertainment communities:
(Simms at traditionalmusic-uk)

The so called "calypso" wasn't even the majority of it:
Simms at Discogs
Simms at Worldcat

Her radio script is probably lost to history but when collated her discography will run a little over sixty line-items, give or take. While not a "Hall-of-Famer" herself Simms collaborated with the likes of Leonard W. Joy; J. Fred Coots and last, but certainly not least, Bahamian Charles Lofthouse. Which brings us to the subject song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Calypso Island
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 23 Mar 16 - 12:02 PM

What "Calypso Island" is actually marketing is a 1958 B-movie titled "Island Women" (alt. title: "Calypso Island.")

"Calypso Island," from Calypso Island, w&m Alice Simms. © Planetary Music Publishing Corp., 1 May 1957.
See also: thread.cfm?threadid=154789

Tin Pan Alley and old exploitation movie/song(s) are easy for scholars to deride (or ignore.) On the other hand:

Leslie Scott
Irene Williams Matney
(Americans from Porgy & Bess production)

Becky Chipman
John "Chippie" Chipman
Maurine "Bahama Mama" Duvalier
"Blind Blake" Higgs
Vincent Martin
Harold McNair
George Symonette
Berkeley "Peanuts" Taylor
Naomi "Jungle Queen" Taylor
David Kemp
Johnny Kemp Sr.

Like it or don't, with music by "frequent winter resident" Simms and the ever invisible native Charlie Lofthouse, the film captured some of the best goombay music & dance 1950s Nassau had to offer. The later soundtrack/score covers detailed in "Funky Nassau" and the even more popular title track were done as lounge standards ("show tunes") in the same vein as Irving Burgie's "Island in the Sun." Art reflecting art as opposed to "real" life.

Imo: If you have fondness for the "Bahama Mama," "Chippie" and "Jungle Queen" years it's a guilty pleasure during the muscial bits (only.) If you're on the Rommen-Sheller side of the aisle give it a miss (and visit the region during spring break at your own peril.)


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