Calypso-Is Like So…
Pan Am Records
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By the time Robert Mitchum recorded this 1957 album, he had already starred in over 50 movies. His strong personality helped him overcome the poor quality of many of those films, and also a 1947 drug scandal that would have finished off the career of a lesser man. “I kept the same suits for six years–and the same dialogue,” explained Mitchum, referring to his early pictures. “We just changed the title and the leading lady.
The Calypso fever started in America in 1957, competing with rock & roll. Although some dared to announce, “rock & roll is dead; long live calypso,” the craze soon passed. Not soon enough, however, to stop Robert Mitchum from recording his first LP. “The idea for the album must have been hatched in a rum fervor,” stated Matt Collar on AllMusic. “While filming in Trinidad, Mitchum began soaking up some of the local musical talent, such as Lord Melody and Mighty Sparrow. The result is an album of neither watered down, nor truly authentic, calypso. Included are the requisite steel drums, congas, and backing horns and many traditional Caribbean songs, yet, a few are obvious rockers á la Elvis Presley. His voice sounds something like Bing Crosby crossed with Dean Martin and Merle Haggard, and his insistence of affecting the broken English of many of the real calypso artists–this is “dis,” “the” is often dropped–may smack some as distasteful. Nonetheless, it is great to hear such an icon of Hollywood cool having so much kooky fun at his own expense. And the album is not bereft of musical merit. One of the most interesting elements is the use of a banjo instead of guitar as a single line instrument for solos, prefiguring the instrument’s use in many contemporary bluegrass and avant-jazz outfits.” The album didn’t sell well, and although Mitchum sang in some of his subsequent movies, he waited a full decade before entering a recording studio again, when he taped That Man Sings for Monument Records (1967).