Compilation producer: Gene Scaramuzzo.
Includes liner notes by Gene Scaramuzzo and Bill Nowlin.
Principally recorded at Eagle Sound, Sound Heights and The Platinum Factory, Brooklyn, New York between 1973 and 1993.
Liner Note Authors: Bill Nowlin; Gene Scaramuzzo.
Arrangers: Leston Paul; Art de Coteau; Nappy Mayers; Frankie McIntosh; Errol Ince; Machel Montano.
The Brooklyn-based Straker's label defined major calypso and soca artists starting in the early '70s. Granville Straker, with the help of wizard arranger Frankie McIntosh, has forged a musical stable that is without equal in the calypso arena. According to the thorough liner notes by Gene Scaramuzzo, this label produced a host of well-known and not so well-known calypso artists. There's also an enlightening biographical article about Straker contained in the liners. Basically a one-man operation, the Straker's label has produced some of the best calypso and soca available, period. Straker's releases present a clear bright sound combined with a spontaneous live feel. The rhythm section is driven by the engine rooms, the driving drum and percussion contingents of Trinidad and Tobago's large steel bands. The selections on this double album were culled from at least ten compact discs. There's some legendary magic contained on these two albums. Since nearly every major calypso artist recorded for the label, either a hit or minor masterpiece is included here. There are plenty of gems left in the Straker's catalog, but this compilation will make any soul jump up. The artists represented here read like a who's who of calypso and soca: Shadow, Black Stalin, Chalkdust, Calypso Rose, Winston Soso, Explainer, Lord Melody, and many other important artists. With tracks like "Bass Man," the dark "Kaiso Music," and "Stickman's Lament," you know at one listen that you've hit the mother lode of calypso. Those somewhat familiar with calypso will recognize most of the artists on this first-rate compilation. Those with a recently developed interest in calypso will find artists who are not so popular, but are equally potent exemplars of this great music. This is a well-conceived and top-shelf compilation, and one to start with if you're new to the music. Highly recommended. ~ Mark Romano