Lord Kitchener / Mighty Sparrow

16 Carnival Hits

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Two of Trinidad's greatest calypsonians -- both of whom excelled into the age of soca -- on one disc? It's like heaven. After all, these two dominated Trinidad's Carnival Road March from 1956-1972, and a number of those winning songs are here, from Sparrow's "May May" to Kitchener's "Miss Tourist." But simply, there's not a single dud among the 16 cuts here -- as the album title implies. From the truly hilarious, like "Drunk and Disorderly," to the commemoration of "Tribute to Spree Simon," who invented the steel drum, this is a mix of the topical, glorious, lampooning, and risqué ("My Pussin," for example) performed with plenty of style and elan. For those who think of calypso as just voice and guitar, these tracks will offer a very pleasant surprise, with full-band accompaniment (albeit scratchy and aged-sounding). Together, Lord Kitchener and Mighty Sparrow represent two generations of calypso, although in many ways you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference; the basic calypso sound is unchanged and the lyrical dexterity and subject matter are the same. These are simply two sublime writers and performers at the top of their game, whether it's the sly social commentary of Sparrow's "Jean and Dinah" or "Mas in Madison Square Gardens," Lord Kitchener's celebration of calypso on the road in New York, which offers some very carefully worded put-downs of not-too-bright Americans. If you want some truly classic calypso, this is one of the very best places to start.

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