Various Artists, Calypso and Meringues

Chris Nickson

By Chris Nickson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
A raw look at the two major pan-Caribbean forms.

This short little disc offers a very raw look at the two major pan-Caribbean forms. The calypso, from a few performers including Lord Invader, one of the genre's great stars, is very much of the sparse acoustic variety, with the musicians crashing along full tilt. In other words, it's not too subtle, but full of playful fun and excellent wordplay. What's even more interesting, though, are the four meringues that make up almost half this album. Known more as merengue, it's a form that originated in the Dominican Republic, and has become a standard Latin rhythm. These vintage cuts bare it to the bone, as stripped as the calypso cuts (and played just as frantically), but with Creole lyrics. Far more sinuous than its Trinidadian counterpart, even here it shows a sexy slinkiness that won't be denied. It's a reminder that the Caribbean sits at the crossroads of the Latin world, and that they share a common origin across the Atlantic.