As part of his 1962 recordings of music of the Caribbean, Alan Lomax taped music on the small island of Carriacou, just north of Grenada. The island was subject to both French and British rule in the centuries prior to its independence in 1974, and the folk music of the island is a hard to define mixture of British, French, and African influences, although the inhabitants feel most closely tied to their African roots. The 31 songs on this disc, some quite short, are tied to ceremonies and rituals, and cover numerous styles. A big part of island music is the Big Drum, a ritual dance accompanied by boulas and cut drums (made from rum barrels), as well as a hoe blade and incantational call and response singing between a lead vocalist and a chorus. There's also a quadrille dance, French hymns, sea shanties, a lullaby, and just a bit of the calypso that's associated with nearby islands like Trinidad. Much of the singing is a cappella, or only accompanied by percussion. While it's an important cultural document, the basic arrangements and chant-like structures of many songs mean it's of interest primarily to folklorists rather than general listeners.
Carriacou Calaloo Review
by Richie Unterberger