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Mingling with Men of Steel
It took five arrangers to create the best pan compilation—Men of Steel—by producer Alvin Daniell in years. The veteran music man produced his 17th compilation last Wednesday night at De Nu Pub (The Mas Camp) in Woodbrook. He began this labour of love in 1996, a commitment to composers and arrangers of calypsoes designed for pan and the annual Panorama competition. The five arrangers on Men of Steel are Leston Paul, Pelham Goddard, Junior “Ibo” Joseph, De Red Boyz and Anthony Alexander.
Daniell produced two LPs, one with Denyse Plummer and another with David Bereaux and Melanie Hudson in 1966.
He explained: “I combined the two and did a compilation with John ‘JW’ Williams. This is when it all started. The following year I shared a compilation with Earl Crosby.
“My calypso compilation CDs actually commenced in 1998. I chose the term ‘calypso compilation’ as I thought that the world knew what calypso is but, in comparison, knew very little of soca music. Using the word ‘calypso’ made these products more globally accessible and recognisable, this producing more hits worldwide for my music, under the rubric of ‘calypso’.”
Seen amongst the large audience at the launch were veteran Panorama judges Joycelyn Sealey and Merle Albino-De Coteau, former national calypso monarch Duane O’Connor, calypso aficionados Diane Holdip and Diane Dupres, talented musician/arranger Leston Paul; and other composers and musicians.
Known for his knack to blood new artistes, Daniell opened the launch with a performance by debutante Zanda, singing Eye Contact. He was followed by a veteran, Richie, singing a jumpy social commentary entitled Rats in Parliament. Then, it was time to get into the actual compilation, its first artiste, Klassic Ruso’s Dr Will B, singing No Fun and Bounce Mih Nah, the second a beautiful social commentary about Trinidadians “bounce-mih-nah” attitude.
Joseph Williams, a veteran calypso tent chorus singer, made his debut as a “pan calypso” soloist rendering Enjoy Yourself, written by Felix Jones and Daniell.
Former national calypso monarch finalist, and Daniell’s nephew Sean Daniel sang Gospel, a social commentary, and God’s Music, one of the sweetest pan songs I have heard this year. The latter item was composed by renowned pan arranger Earl Brooks and living calypso legend Winsford “Joker” Devine. By popular request, later in the programme Daniel was brought back on stage to sing God’s Music a second time.
Former Byron Lee & The Dragonaires lead vocalist, now with his own band, Vibes, Oscar B, took the audience down memory lane with some of his old material before performing his pan song, Dancing with the Stars, composed by Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars panman Dane Gulston and Daniell.
Also a former national calypso monarch finalist, Eunice Peters showed that she may well return to the final, singing three powerful songs, Anthem for Pan, Queen of the Pack and Calypso Lives On, the latter a definite pick for this year’s Kaiso Fiesta in Skinner Park, San Fernando.
Without an intermission taken, the programme flowed smoothly and next in line was the much-loved Crazy, also doing three numbers, namely Mih Rooster Don’t Crow, Thoroughbred of Pan and Pan in Yuh Pweffen.
M’ba, Crazy’s cousin, paid tribute to the late Kitchener in Grandmaster Say, a well-penned calypso, and Break Dey Neck, his solution to the crime rate.
Nicole Greaves, who sang Witco Desperadoes’ 2013 Panorama offering Hammer Time, composed by Kenneth Charles, younger brother of pan icon the late Rudolph Charles, is back in the fray again with another Charles’ composition, Pan Scandal. She also sang her social commentary, I De Government,
The show ended at 11 pm with the disc jockey playing the compilation’s title track—Men of Steel—recorded by Kees Dieffenthaller and composed by Charles and Daniell. Aside from Dieffenthaller, other artistes on the compilation who were absent on launch night were Destra, Chucky, De Panman and Youni-T.