: CV101 raises its hoary and ageing head here, with neither of these two excellent
: versions posted today in the article - because neither was available on YT eight
: years ago when I wrote this. The differences between what YouTube has on it and what
: it allows now is a world of difference from back then, and I remember having to
: scramble and dig deep just to find the few versions that I originally posted. One
: good thing here below is the straight story about the "Lord Invader" quip
: from Dave Guard. For convenience's sake I am simply copying and pasting the HTML
: from my site instead of redirecting.
: I was struck by a phrase in a Jeopardy! clue the other night about the KT -
: the Kingston Trio was described as "clean-cut," which we all know was
: exactly the image that Frank Werber and the guys wanted to cultivate, at the very
: least to distinguish themselves from the vaguely shadowy politics of The Weavers and
: probably more especially from the parent-infuriating gyrations and pelvic thrusts of
: Elvis Presley.
: But the Trio started its life as a nightclub act, and that suggested some -
: suggestiveness, I guess you'd say. Your average 1950s club was a place neither for
: the wholesome nor the easily-offended. If the comedians' humor had not yet descended
: to the scatological and obscene level that it routinely has today, it was
: nonetheless implicitly edgy - Tom Lehrer and the Smothers Brothers and Lou Gottlieb
: and George Carlin and Lenny Bruce all started out around the same time as the Trio
: did. Except for Bruce, who was up and in your face, the comics played for
: "naughty" - and the Trio fit right in, not least because their initial
: genre was calypso music.
: Calypso music proper originated in Trinidad and Tobago, and some purists maintain
: that Caribbean music from other places like Jamaica and the Bahamas should not be
: termed calypso. But thanks mainly to New York City's Harry Belafonte, born there of
: Jamaican parents, the term came to be an all-encompassing word to mean most
: Afro-Caribbean music.
: It's a bit of a wonder that calypso music took off in the relatively uptight world
: of 1950s America because virtually all of it includes sly double-entendres,
: political commentary, and really off-color humor. I've always guessed that those
: Puritan-bent Anglophone ears that we grew up with just didn't pick up on the
: meanings very well any more than our parents' Big Band generation quite got what
: those "great balls of fire" were or where Johnny B. Good was go go going.
: But go back to those three great Belafonte albums from the mid-50s -
: "Calypso," "Belafonte," and "Belafonte Sings Of The
: Caribbean" - and listen to the songs with adult ears. You might be surprised.
: "Judy no drownded Judy lie in bed" indeed, and "Matilda run
: Venezuela" with more than the guy's money; "Angelique-O's" mama got
: to take her back to teach her all the things she lack - and so on.
: While Kingston Trio fans recognized the sly, eyebrow-raised humor of "Ah Woe,
: Ah Me" from Back In Town - I wonder how many picked up on Lord Intruder's
: little quips in "Zombie Jamboree." Intruder was the stage name of Winston
: O'Connor, born in Tobago into the original calypso tradition. (There really was a
: Lord Invader, but he didn't write "Jamboree" - and the 12 Penetrators
: never existed except in Dave Guard's scripted and slightly bawdy song intro. The
: "Conrad Eugene Mauge, Jr." of the copyright is just another of O'Connor's
: stage names.) Lord Intruder is poking fun at expatriate Caribbeans (like Belafonte's
: parents) who lived in New York - hence the Long Island locale of the song and other
: pretenders to his throne ("some of them great Calypsonians"). But
: Intruder's reference to the "season was Carnival/They got together in
: Bacchanal" leaves no doubt about the song's intent.
: Carnival, of course, is the Latin name for Mardi Gras, a slightly naughty event in
: New Orleans that in its roots and in its most famous manifestation in Rio De Janeiro
: reaches heights (or depths) of debauchery that conservative Louisianans could
: scarcely imagine. Just take a look at the costumes that the dancers wear in Rio and
: you'll see what I mean. And for a little refresher vocabulary - Bacchanal means an
: alcohol-drenched orgy.
: Take the lyric from there. The female zombie of the song is clearly bent on
: seduction with her quart of wine - and Intruder's humor becomes clearer when you
: consider the rather literal implication of "an old bag of bones I cannot
: love" when being "belly to belly." The unexpurgated lyric also
: apparent had a different one syllable word than "after you kiss this dead
: But our "clean cut" Trio weren't going to belabor those points. They sang
: the song for fun and money and let the audience make of it what they wanted:
: This has always been one of my all-time favorite trio performances.
: The current Kingstons also do a delightful job, showing respect to their
: predecessors' arrangement while leaving their own distinctive stamp on it:
: Many Gen Xers are unaware of the KT's connection to the song and know it primarily
: from the 1990's vocal group Rockapella, who has perhaps fifteen different recorded
: versions on YouTube. They keep the song fun but take it further from its roots:
: Brazilian vocalists Jack Jeans use Rockapella's words but give us a video a bit more
: in keeping with Intruder's off-color humor and the inescapably erotic rhythms of
: Last December I included Alvin and the Chipmunks' version of "We Wish You A
: Merry Christmas" as an antidote to the Everly Brother's turgid rendition of
: the same. We close today with that legendary trio's version of this classic:
: I saw Dave Guard live with the Modern Folk Quartet at the Ice House in Pasadena CA
: in 1976, and the group's closing number was "Zombie Jamboree." It was
: also, as noted in KTOR and on the Capitol twofer of the KT's first two albums, a
: song that Dave specifically requested be played at his funeral - the KT Hungry i
: version. I was delighted to read that the late great Dave Guard thought as highly of
: that cut as I and countless other fans did.
: Appendix - 6/20/09
: This humorous video on YouTube uses as its musical background the version by Lord
: Jellicoe & His Calypso Monarchs:
: Appendix 2 - 6/16/10
: And a rare video of a live performance of the song from the greatest popularizer of
: calypso music, Harry Belafonte: