|Conrad Eugene Mauge, Jr.
b. Month ??, 19?? / Unknown
Singer / Songwriter
Posted to the Kingston Trio Place "MUSICIANS' RENDEZVOUS" board by Pete Curry on December 31, 2000 at 21:32:22:
While doing a little research into the history of Calypso music I scanned the Web for information on "Zombie Jamboree." And so far I've come up with more questions than answers.
For example: In the introduction to the KT recording on "hungry i," Dave Guard says, "In the year 1955, Lord Invader and his Twelve Penetrators took the title with this next song." Yet, on the record label, the song is attributed to "C. E. Mauge, Jr." (i.e., Conrad Eugene Mauge, Jr.), which is not Lord Invader's real name (Invader was born Rupert Westmore Grant--BMI also credits Mauge with the song.)
Of course, Dave does not actually say that Invader was the composer (although since the release of "Hungry i," many writers have attributed it to him). But earlier in the introduction he says that at Carnival time in Trinidad, ". . . the various groups vyed with one another . . . in order to find out who's the best extemporaneous composer of them all," which implies that Invader was the composer. (Invader was, however, the composer of "Rum and Coca Cola" and many other well-known Calypso tunes.)
Also, I've found no evidence that Invader's backup musicians were ever called "the Twelve Penetrators." For most of his recordings, the credits read "Lord Invader and his Calypso Orchestra." So what I think we have here is another instance of Dave blending fact and fiction for the sake of an entertaining lead-in.
Anyway, what interests me most is where the KT might have learned this song. I did some searching on the Internet for pre-KT recordings of "Zombie Jamboree" (which is usually titled "Back to Back [Belly to Belly]"), and so far I've come up with three: one by Calypso singer Noel Anthony (collected on the anthology "Kings of Calypso," no information on original date of release); one by The Castaways on the LP "The Castaways: Calypso Islands," Decca DL 74166, n.d.; and one by The Charmer, on a Monogram LP titled "Calypsos From the West Indies." (Given that "The Charmer" was Louis Farrakhan's stage name back in the '50s, this particular LP is quite the collector's item!)
Does anyone know of any other pre-KT recordings of this song or have any information about where the KT might have learned it?
Thanks, Pete Curry
The following is an excerpt from a review of "Calypso in New York" (Smithsonian Folkways SFW CD 40454) at http://www.mustrad.org.uk/reviews/invader.htm
Rupert Grant, from San Fernando in Trinidad, was given his nom-de-calypso by his tailor - "I tell you, Rupert, you should call yourself Lord Invader so when you go up to the city you be invadin’ the capital." In February 1937, Invader made his first recordings, having successfully penetrated the highly competitive calypso scene in Port-of-Spain at the age of 22. In 1941, he was one five calypsonians who traveled to New York to record for Decca, and promote Trinidadian music, but his next invasion of the Big Apple came in less happy circumstances; as is well known, Morey Amsterdam plagiarized Invader’s Rum and Coca-Cola, which became a massive hit for the Andrews Sisters, and early in 1945, Rupert Grant headed north to pursue legal remedies. The case kept him in New York for several years (and other singers followed him, either to appear as witnesses, or to take advantage of performing opportunities, or both.) There was already a lively calypso scene in New York, with musicians like Gerald Clark and Gregory Felix backing the likes of Macbeth the Great and the Duke of Iron (all of whom appear, along with Invader, on Calypso at Midnight! [Rounder 1840] and Calypso after Midnight! [Rounder 1841], reviewed elsewhere on this site.) Among his other activities during this sojourn in the States, Invader recorded for Moses Asch’s Disc label. Ultimately successful in his lawsuit, although he didn’t see the money for another seven years, Invader returned to Trinidad until 1945, when he went to Britain, in the footsteps of Lord Beginner, Lord Kitchener, and other calypsonians. He made some appearances in Europe (which inspired My Experience on the Reeperbahn and Auf Wiedersehen) before returning to New York late in 1958, and recording again for Asch. He died in Queens in 1961.
Shortly after the Trio's hungry i album came out I was in a record store and saw an album by Lord Invader. With Zombee Jamboree fresh in my mind I bought it to see what else he did. The attached picture of Lord Invader is from the Album cover. (The album is Audio Fidelity AFLP 1808, dated 1956) The following is copied from the back cover:
"Every February, at Mardi Gras time, all the musicians of Trinidad come to Port of Spain in brilliant carnival costumes. Each group proceeds to set up headquarters in a tent, which is usually nothing other than a building of one sort or another, and to operate on its own territory. After the calypso music gets started each group invades another groups tent. Upon entering a rival tent, a leader who is vocalist of the invading band sings a declaration of war challenging the leader of the other group to engage in a battle of song. The battle is one of extemporaneous dialogue between the two contestants
During a calypso contest, each exponent of calypso adopts an official nom de guerre before he organizes his group and leads it forth into battle. Thus, there are such leader names as The Tiger, Attila the Hun, The Executor, King Radio, The Growler, and the artist heard in this recording Lord Invader. Lord Invader happens to be one of the ranking calypso singers in Trinidad. "
I saw the Trio do this song in Atlanta in 1960 or 1961. I loved the abandon with which they sang the song, and of course you did not hear songs with words like this on the radio in the South in the 1950s.
|Songs Credited to C.E. Mauge||Song Title|