Although reggae draws the bulk of attention outside the Caribbean, the region boasts several other different musical forms, including zouk, compas, and, of course, calypso. Calypso's offspring, soca, is probably the most accessible of all. Formed during the mid-'70s disco era, soca or "soul calypso," swerved away from calypso's heavy social commentary and focused more on an international audience, pulsating dance beats and party lyrics. Often derided for watering down calypso's sharp storytelling, soca continues to be one of the Caribbean's most popular musical genres, and Soca 101 reveals exactly why. Packed with legendary soca superstars such as Arrow, Byron Lee, Burning Flames, and the Mighty Sparrow, this compilation indeed serves as an excellent crash course for soca music. Opening with a sizzling dance mix by Arrow, featuring his undisputed soca anthem "Hot, Hot, Hot," this CD burns with contagious high energy and spirit. From Colin Lucas' dancehall classic "Dollar Wine," which claims a popular dance to go along with it, to Krosfyah's soulful "Pump It Up" to the Troubadours throbbing "ragga soca" of "Nice Time," Soca 101 will keep you on your feet. Appropriately enough, the only social commentary on the album is presented by the Mighty Sparrow with the cutting "Wanted Dead or Alive." Over a smoking Latin/disco/soca beat, the elder statesman of calypso and soca explains: "the rule of the tyrants decline/the year/1979/from Uganda to Nicaragua/it's bombs and bullets all the time."
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AllMusic Review by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2