This compilation attempts to cover a lot of ground in a short time, and in a way that’s refreshing. Like the old K-Tell collections of whatever happened to be popular on the radio in a given year, and unlike the comps of today that focus on obscure genres or scenes, Calypsoul 70: Caribbean Soul & Calypso Crossover 1969-1979 tries to give us a taste of a whole region in a ten-year snapshot. So we have a chance to take brief but hot peeks into the stunning variety of sounds that bubbled along in Trinidad, the Bahamas, Guyana, and French Antilles. Of course, the common ground was the mix of U.S. soul and funk, plus Cuban and Jamaican rhythms with local beats. The result is wildly eclectic but stunning.
In this set, the political mingles with the urge to party, and dance floors all across the islands accommodated both. Surprisingly, the political tunes hold their power today. In fact, Lancelot Layne’s “Yo Tink It Sorf?” is definitely early rap, and Amral’s Trinidad Cavaliers Steel Orchestra’s instrumental “90% of Me Is You” has a killer proto-hip-hop beat begging to be discovered and sampled. The straight-ahead funk of “Independent Bahamas” by Biosis Now rounds out the cream of the political jams.
On the party side, the set is evenly divided between hard funk, as epitomized by the Revolution of St. Vincent’s “The Little You Say,” and the kind of soul that would make a Mayfield proud. Check out “It’s a Feeling” by the mightily named Rolling Tones.
Calypsoul 70 is a 20-song history lesson whose sounds have only gotten better with age. Given the influence of Caribbean rhythms and the now almost three-decade dominance of hip-hop on popular music, this set lives on as both a peek into the staggering inspiration of a region and as a source for present day artists looking for hardcore sounds to mine.