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).
Various Artists – Charanga at the Palladium Vol.1
2007 Protel Records 176-160-448-2 / UMD / Tico
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.