Versatile Matrixx - CD reviews

January 07, 2001

APPROVED—a 17-track CD from Nigell, Marvinn & Matrixx, brings to the table a mix of festival music and dance numbers that will take this product well past the impending Carnival season.

A combination of singing and rap, Approved spends several of its tracks on cover versions of popular and vintage works from a variety of artistes, spreading its potential for appeal over a range of age and style configurations.

Among the remakes is a commanding version of The Mighty Sparrow’s “Maria”, set now against a seductive Latin beat, with blaring mariachi-type horns and a rambling piano. The socanised cover of Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music (White Boy)” makes clever use of the already established market value of the work, then adds indigenous rhythms, to turn it into “Play That Soca Music, White Boy”.

Slowing down for “When Somebody Loves You Back”, the Gamble and Huff composition made popular by Teddy Pendergrass, the brothers Lewis capture the original mood with an authentic sample, onto which Nigell imposes a rap.

That mood is retained for the Carl “Beaver” Henderson/ Francis Escayg composition “Fool in Love”, which is sung with particular sweetness and “Some Lovin”, an original work written by Nigell and “My Salvation”, that leans heavily on the 23rd Psalm.

But none of this is at the expense of the festival jams like “Jumpy Feelings”, the outright wine and wave tempo and lyrics of “Danse, Dance (Wet Me Down)” and “Show Me” (a thong song).

The dancehall is visited in “Dais–U” and “Itsy Bitsy”, both featuring Billy D Kid. There is a sensual funk to be found in “Tell Me” (featuring Yanina) and Euro-rock in the remake of Nigell’s 1997 blockbuster “Follow the Leader” ; claimed by its distributors (Rituals Music) as the bestselling song to ever come out of Trinidad and Tobago.

Using the unlikely dancehall idiom for a tribute to the Grand Dame of Dance, Nigell delivers “Beryl’s Theme”, set against a damblay on the Dame Lorraine theme. And as has become popular among soca artistes, there is a powerful and catchy football song in “Drop a Goal in D’Antzhole”.

In the sum, Nigell and Marvinn & Matrixx have produced a highly versatile album in Approved. Recorded largely at Roy Cape’s Sun Beat Studios, with a good ear from Nigell who, apart from writing 11 of the tracks and performing on all, also functions as producer and executive producer. Approved is easily one of the season’s better products.


More tracks for pan

MORE Kasio for Pan—13 more steelband-specific tracks, compiled by Alvin Daniell’s Major and Minor Productions, featuring the work of various artistes and writers.

Coming so closely in the wake of Volume One (2001 Calypso Compilation, a Tribute to Kitch), More Kaiso for Pan dismantles the anxiety that the grandmaster’s death would have impacted negatively on the supply of calypsoes made especially for pan.

What has occurred instead is an outpouring of such songs, with Daniell alone releasing two compilation discs and various other artistes still churning out music designed primarily to attract the steel orchestras.

Some of the artistes appearing on Volume One make a return with different songs on More Kaiso for Pan. Wayne Rodriguez, who did Lincoln Waldron’s “Raindrops on My Pan” on the first CD is back with the Ray Holman/Winsford “Joker” Devine composition “Heroes of the Nation”, a salute to Kitchener, Ras Shorty I and other fallen cultural contributors. De Fosto is also back, this time with “Queen of the Road”, a tribute to Calypso Rose, as is Eunice Peters who, on this occasion, sings GB’s “Class is Class”, which recognises the achievements of home-grown Olympian Ato Boldon. Writer Blackstone, who is also represented on the first disc, serves up “Take Back the Road”, sung by Tunapuna Scanty.

Among newcomers to the fold is David Rudder. He wrote the lyrics and performed “Freedom” a song by Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, specifically written for his band Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove.

Slipping in cameo impressions from Shadow’s 1974 hit “I Come Out to Play” and even doing a little Kitchener scatting, Rudder takes a look at last October’s historic World Steelband Music Festival and as only he can, makes it a Panorama song.

“Rudder is a genius,” said Sharpe on Thursday night. “This man got me so scared. I thought he had written the words long time, because I give him the song long time now, eh. This man comes into the studio with a piece of paper and a pen, scribbling all the time, while the music playing. I say: ‘How he could do me that?’

“But I didn’t talk loud. I watch him and I watch him and then voops, the man come up with monster-lyrics. I never had lyrics like that before. He must have written them in his mind a long time ago, because he make the song a real calypso about a real situation and still maintain the line. That man is a genius,” Sharpe said.

And that’s only the opening track. There’s also “Steelpan Ladies”, written by Sunday Punch Editor Anthony Alexis and sung by Olivier and “Do Something for Pan” by Lord Superior.

Candy Hoyte sings “Fit and Ready”, composed by Anthony Trebuce. D Boss does “Start the Jam” and Carol Jacobs contributes “She Like It” from her upcoming album, submitting the testimonial on behalf of all female pan afficionados in soft and sweet voice.

“Raw Pan” from Tee Jay mentions Nu Tones, but salutes pan tuners everywhere.

The resilient Manchild has his tribute to the Grandmaster in “Is Kitchener Talking” and Dr Will B brings up the rear with “Pan Lovers”.

More Kaiso for Pan does not limit itself to steel orchestra interpretation.

Lovers of good kaiso will also find much to listen and dance to among the 13 new tracks.

Terry-J at I-Level