Note: Notes from Rounder Records release "Calypso At Midnight" read: "This is one of three compositions by the calypsonian Lord Kitchener that seized popular imagination during the Carnival of 1946 and were published contemporaneously in Victory Calypsos, a Trinidad songbook. Living in New York from 1945 (while he fought for the rights to 'Rum and Coca-Cola'), Lord Invader probably learned the lyrics from this booklet. Kitchener cut the calypso as 'Tie Tongue Mopsie' in London in 1951. However, the piece is better known through Lord Invader's version, recorded in New York in 1946 (Disc 5007). The performance begins with a mess-up. The orchestra starts in a fast tempo and a difficult key for Lord Invader. Typically, the musicians knew how to read music and the calypsonians did not; also, they sometimes came from different class backgrounds. For example, Gerald Clark, the orchestra leader, was an upper-class Trinidadian. But Lord Invader's skills were such that he was able to discipline the orchestra, who in turn, show similar dexterity in accommodating to the musically untrained singer. As a bonus, Lord Invader improvises the last verse, demonstrating the power of extempore calypso in the hands of a true master."
About the session: A live recording of "Calypso At Midnight," a concert held at Town Hall, New York City, on December 21, 1946. Learning that Town Hall could be rented cheaply after regular theater hours, Alan Lomax produced a late-night concert series called The Midnight Special, which was thematically organized as "Blues At Midnight," "Ballads At Midnight," etc., and sponsored by the People's Songs Collective. The calypso concert recordings, made at Lomax's request and later found by chance in a closet by Bess Lomax Hawes, may be the only extant documents of this series. "This concert is a fascinating document of an American presentation of Trinidadian calypso at a time when interest in the genre was spreading from New York City into the mainstream of popular music in the United States" (Donald R. Hill and John H. Cowley, Calypso At Midnight [Rounder CD 1860])
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