5 And 6: Afro-Cubism, Calypso, Highlife, Mento, Jazz
At last, a fresh delivery of open-hearted, bitter-sweet, mash-up postcards to the here and now, from young black London.
As then, calypso carries the swing. There are four more Lord Kitchener songs — in consideration of his wife leaving him for a GI, cricket umpires, a fling onboard an ocean-liner and West Indian poultry — besides a hot mambo cash-in, cross-bred under his supervision, and an uproarious, teasing Ghanaian tribute to him in Fanti by London visitors The Quavers.
Other calypsos range compellingly from the devaluation of the pound through jiu jitsu, big rubbery instruments, football fans, heavyweight champ Joe Louis and the sexual allure of English women police. The Mighty Terror contributes the woe-begotten, cautionary tale of his beloved Patricia’s change of heart: ‘I cannot believe, not for one moment / She gone with Millicent… / You may think I am jocular / But this really happened in Manchester / I felt so ashamed, my friends laughed at me / I had to take a train for London city.’
Ambrose Campbell is back, with six more shots of prodigal, limber, melancholic, visionary West African highlife. Also the Rolling Stones’ favourite Ginger Johnson, with a percussive Latin scorcher; and Mona Baptiste, with some wonderful, soulful exotica.
Jamaican mento makes its first entry in the series, with a brace by Tony Johnson: a drily witty drinking-song, and a love-letter to Marilyn Monroe. Also finally getting some dues, the path-breaking Latin-African-jazz experiments of Ghanaian drummer and percussionist Buddy Pipp, with spine-tingling playing by the great Jamaican saxophonist Joe Harriott.
Expert jazz idioms course sophisticatedly through all the selections, which include a straight-up, South London version of Duke Jordan’s Jordhu, something from Dizzy Reece’s soundtrack — brokered by Kenneth Tynan — to the British crime film Nowhere To Go, and a trio of magnificently hybrid, hard-swinging instrumentals led in turn by master-guitarist Fitzroy Coleman, Kitch’s innovative arranger Rupert Nurse, and trumpeter Shake Keane — named after Shakespeare because of his love of poetry — from St. Vincent.
The CDs are beautifully presented as miniature books, saddle-stitched, with forty pages of rare, precious photos of the musicians and their social milieu, and in-depth commentary; the LPs in gatefold sleeves with full-size booklets.
Proper Brit Pop.