When the Empire Windrush, an old troop-carrier, arrived at Tilbury on June 21, 1948, and inaugurated modern Caribbean immigration to Britain, it also supplied calypso with its best-known image — on Pathe newsreel, Lord Kitchener singing his new composition London Is The Place For Me.
Kitch had boarded with Lord Beginner at Kingston docks, Jamaica, on Empire Day, May 24. In London they joined a milieu of fine band musicians familiar with Caribbean musical forms, and already represented on numerous recordings crucial to the development of British swing and jazz music.
Travelling with their own core audience, the Trinidadian calypsonians brought with them the vocal music of Carnival. Traditionally this ranges from social satire to sexual double-entendre, from voodoo to the most pressing issues of the day, from sporting events to competitive insult. The experiences of Britain’s growing Caribbean population were to be fabulously rich in raw material.
‘... a witty and joyous testament to the creative power of popular culture and a document of more innocent times. It constitutes one of the best starting points for that rich, unfinished history of the black British diaspora and its intricate interweaving with British life that remains to be written’ (Stuart Hall, The Guardian).
‘... Not only is it a momentous record of real historical significance, but it comes in a finely produced sleeve with evocative photographs, background notes and recording details that bring the performances on the disc to life even more… a unique and marvellous compilation that lays open a whole era’ (Chris Searle, Morning Star).