30 Tunes for Soca Dummies 11-20

20. Pan in A Minor (Trinidad)

Lord Kitchener is one of the foremost composers in Calypso and one of the important composers of the pan Calypso style. Pan in A minor is one of the most famous of these pan songs and features the Classic Soca Sound by super producer Leston Paul. This song is a staple of pan players globally and still rocks a crowd.

 

19.  Faluma (Barbados/Suriname)

Faluma, by the Barbadian band Square One, was a massive hit in the mid-1990s. It was a remake of a song from Suriname and lead vocalist Alison Hinds, though not a speaker of the language, learnt the song phonetically. The song uses the Soca beat common at that time and is one of the great Wuk-Up songs in Barbados. This track is still a major part of Alison Hinds’ repertoire to this day.

 

18.  Head Bad (St. Vincent)

Vincentian Soca has not been as dominant as that from Trinidad and Barbados. However, Skinny Fabulous has emerged as a new Soca star and is not only incredibly popular in his homeland, but also in the other Soca locations in the Caribbean. “Head Bad” is testament to that, and its horn intro alone ravages any party.

 
 

17.  Dr. Cassandra (Barbados)

Gabby, like Red Plastic Bag looked at earlier, was known as a calypsonian. Gabby however had already had an earlier hit with “Boots,” which came out of his earlier work with Eddy Grant. Dr. Cassandra however was one of the most popular songs on the Eddie Grant constructed Ring Bang rhythm. It features a completely stripped down arrangement with plenty of drums. This still holds Caribbean audiences to this day.

 

16.   Pressure Boom (St. Lucia)

Ricky T is from St. Lucia, and like Skinny Fabulous has emerged in the last 5 years within Soca. During that time he has become one of the premier Soca stars from St. Lucia. His song “Pressure Boom” from 2009 is largely responsible for this regional recognition.

 

15.   Chutney Bacchanal (Trinidad)

Chris Garcia has quite harshly been described as one-hit Soca wonder. He was in fact much more than just a singer and appeared on regional television as an actor in a leading Trinidadian soap. His song Chutney Bacchanal was absolutely massive in 1996 and had everyone saying the non-English (non-anything) chorus. It is also a unique beast as it is a Soca song with a story and though not strictly Chutney Soca, it had enough elements of it to have introduced audiences to this sub-genre.

 

 

14.  Lotala (Trinidad)

“Lotala is one of the biggest crossover Chutney Soca tracks ever. Sung originally by Sonny Man, the remix, featuring General Grant and Denise Belfon, went on to destroy fetes all throughout the Caribbean. On Lotala, the usual Chutney sounds,such as the harmonium and singing style are present and Sonny Man lends the expected singing style.

 

 

13.  Small Pin (St. Vincent)

Before Skinny Fabulous, Beckett was the most popular artist in the Soca/Calypso genre from St. Vincent. This song, “Small Pin,” is his most famous and the chorus still earns some laughter.

 

 
12.   Blue (Trinidad)
 

12.   Blue (Trinidad)

I included “Blue” not necessarily for its overwhelming popularity. It is known but there are some not in this list that are more famous. I put “Blue,” by 3 Canal, here because of its unique rhythm and the fact that is a Rapso song, another sub-genre of Soca. Rapso features greater use of speech in melody and it is political. However, this song isn’t and is a J’ouvert song like Tall Pree’s Jab.

 

 

11.   Soca Baptist (Trinidad)

This early Soca song from 1980 was before the Classic Soca song took root. Although it was arranged by Pelham Goddard, one of the big three producers of the Classic Soca Sound, it utilised the two and four rhythm on the drum set like the early experiments after Endless Vibrations. This song won the Road March for Blue Boy, later Super Blue and is still a favourite among those from that generation. Then again who could resist that hook?

 

 
 
 

Snapshot in Soca II – A History of Soca Late – 1970s to early 1980s

The next stage in the life of Soca, is in my view, one of the most interesting periods in its history. To recap, in Snapshot 1, Trinidadian Lord Shorty had  introduced “Endless Vibrations” to the musical world as an example of his Sokah; it, however, did not end up sounding like what Shorty had intended. In the period of Snapshot II, we have a situation where producers and other artists sought to go through the musical door Shorty had opened. However, and this is why I call this period interesting, even though “Endless Vibrations” was commercially successful, these artists and producers did not attempt to exactly replicate the textures, rhythms and harmonies within it. In other words, the songs that came after “Endless Vibrations” were, in my view, influenced more by the philosophy of it rather than a thorough Xeroxing of all its musical qualities. So here are some of the songs from the period  so you can see/hear what I mean.

Firstly we have Maestro, who had Shorty as his band leader doing “Soulful Calypso.”

On hearing this, we can hear that it does not sound exactly like “Endless Vibrations.”  Maestro was introducing the bass lines and drum beats of the popular Afro-American styles at the time to Calypso, similar to what Shorty did in “Endless Vibrations,” but not sounding EXACTLY like “Endless Vibrations.”

Shorty also did other songs in this period, similar to Maestro,here is  “Sweet Music,” from 1976.

A few years later, and using the same philosophy of experimentation, was the artist Super Blue, formerly known as Blue Boy.

 Merchant was also involved “Dr. Soca” 1979

 Then of course we have the incredibly popular “Sugar Bum Bum,” from 1978.

I purposely put these songs from these artists, Boy Blue, Merchant, Kitchener and Maestro, because I want to show how different songs were from each other that were considered Soca (late 70s -early 80s).

So where does the one that was not meant to be taken for Granted come in?

Well, the one I was referring to in Snapshot 1 is Eddy Grant, the international pop star of the 1980s who wrote the monster hit “Electric Avenue” and who proclaimed himself to be the father of Soca. This statement was controversial at the time and Trinidadians were up in arms (not arms in the air, that is later in the life of Soca) as it was made. “How dare this non-Trinidadian lay claims on our indigenous creation!” they screamed. Well, Grant’s point was/is this: since the essential contribution of “Endless Vibrations” was a mixture of Soul/Funk and calypso, then I, Eddy Grant, had done that same mixture four years earlier with “Black Skin Blue Eye Boys.”

To me, from “Black Skin Blue Eye Boys,” the Funk presence is prevalent; the normal musical codes of what is known as Calypso, maybe not so much. However, it is difficult to disprove an artist’s intentions due to how subjective music/art actually is. For example, Eddy Grant might tell me, “I was inspired by Kitchener (Trinidadian calypsonian) and wrote “Black Skin, Blue Eyed Boys” while wearing one of Kitchy’s hats and eating rice with a Bajan who took my meat (joke spoiler: reference to one “Tek Yuh Meat Out Muh Rice” by Lord Kitchener).” All I would be able to say to this is, “well Eddy I don’t hear it.” So while it may be hard to musically disprove Grant’s claims of invention, in mixing Funk/Soul with Calypso (“Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys”), it is even harder for him to prove that “Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys” STARTED Soca, because most producers identify “Endless Vibrations” and not “”Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys,” as their inspiration. In other words, as I said in Snapshot 1, it is the ones that come after who write the history, who construct the genre and ultimately create the ‘origins’ of it, and for them, Lord Shorty, through “Endless Vibrations,” was the ‘inventor’ of Soca. * 

*Check my academic article to be released next year for an expansion on this.

It must be noted, that AFTER “Endless Vibrations,” Eddy had this song that was largely similar to the others being produced in that period. However, “Neighbour Neighbour,” from 1977, does not sound very much like “Black Skin Blued Eyed Boys” either.

 

In summary, the late 70s- early 80s, was one of the most restless periods in Soca’s life. It was in fact similar to a human’s development, where after birth a period of relentless experimentation goes on. In Snapshot III – The Massive Hits, I will revisit this period again, as I consider Kitchener going back on his word and looking like a sugared bum bum,(pronounced boom boom, for my non-English-speaking Caribbean readers) and examine how “Hot, Hot, Hot” things began to get.