Luis Kalaff y Sus Alegres Dominicanos – Arriba! Santo Domingo (1970)

Luis Kalaff was one of the godfathers of merengue in the Dominican Republic.  His sound took elements of the rural, accordion-based merengue típico and combined it with the style forged by the saxophone-led, big band merengue that came into style during the years of its efflorescence under dictator Rafael Trujillo, who essentially made the style into the semi-official national genre by imposing his taste on the country’s elites (he was from the Cibao region where merengue got its start).

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Swallow – Party In Space (1983) (Charlie’s Records SCR 324)

Party In Space
1983 Charlie’s Records SCR 324


King Swallow is a famous Antiguan calypso and soca artist, but I confess that I picked up this album for the cover photo of the first Challenger space shuttle launch.  There is a rumor that when NASA became aware of this album, they tried to sue Swallow for the unauthorized use of a Department of Defense image (now in the public domain, you can see the original below).  They reached a settlement in which NASA received a thousand copies of the album and a promise not to do it again.  The copies were distributed to Challenger team members, and allegedly playing the record during launches became a tradition for the next nine missions.  Hence it is very likely that the sounds of “Party In Space” were last things heard by Challenger crew when it exploded a minute after takeoff in 1986.  You can hear it below.  Musically this is solid early-80’s soca.  But like nearly all soca albums, it probably works best if you drop a song here or there in a mix or a playlist.  Otherwise it can get repetitive.  These LPs were built around whatever song the artist was promoting to be a given year’s mas / carnival road march anthem, after all, so filler is nearly inevitable.

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