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Bradley and Rebecca

Trinidad & Tobago National Steelband Panorama 1983

by Dalton Narine

Dalton Narine was a Trinidad & Tobago Television (TTT) interviewer and commentator during the 1983 Carnival.

As an innovator of steelband interviews in the Panorama, he was the paramount interrogator of the festival. And Bradley had entrusted him with the mechanics of the Rebecca intro that he had belatedly concocted for Desperadoes. “Only musicians would see the flaw,” he said about the braggart but tasteful fanfare that announced his arrangement of Blue Boy’s folk opera. "But it didn’t matter. It worked.”

He was right. The Savannah was rolling in euphoria when the Radoes won the title. Instead of writing about the music that night, Narine deemed it necessary to listen to the Jouvert rendition.

Luckily, Desperadoes departed Memorial Park late. Narine, had worked for TTT's Dimanche Gras show - which ended long after midnight, as usual. He joined Trinidad All Stars at about 4 AM for the Bomb competition. Three hours later he heard that the Despers’ crowd stretched longer than 200 meters as the band chipped down Frederick Street. 

For the Jouvert set, the Panorama test doesn’t end on the stage. Hence the other side of the story that compelled Narine to articulate to readers. He penned his observations. And that, as it turned out, was  the end  of the saga. For he had interviewed mas leaders all day Carnival Tuesday, including Peter Minshall, whose band, River, made a splash as riveting as Bradley’s work.

The other might Narine was searching for material among a mishmash of files and was surprised by what he found - that what he had written had never reached the public.

Only now has Bradey & Rebecca become available.   


Trinidad and Tobago, W.I. - Rebecca was something else.

She left everybody in heat.

And something else defined Rebecca. Not only the drinking and carousing. Might have been the wicked weed, too. How she had used it throughout the 1983 Carnival. Everywhere she went. In the dancehall. In the tent. On radio. By the Dry River. On the Hill. At Panorama.

That's where the showdown for her passion took place.

Talk of the town was about which arranger would take Rebecca home Panorama night? Clive Bradley of Desperadoes, or Leon Edwards of Trinidad All Stars?

Every breath would be baited. Who to ketch whom?

For, with The Stars overpowering The Radoes by eight fingers in the zonal finals a week ago, an insatiable appetite for Blue Boy's Rebecca had distended the holding power of the Panorama belly. Evolutionary and revolutionary, this beast had been entertaining us for 20 years as saviour of a culture not far removed from four decades of teething and nurturing in the maw of violence. Violence of its own volition, mind you.

Clive Bradley
Clive Bradley @ WST Studios

Now, with the Finals in full throat, the Hell Yard band had taken Rebecca with soft hands and dallied with her heart, as in the corner of a dancehall, snatching the breath away under nosy lights. In Edwards' mischievous groove, Rebecca couldn't back away from the down-low moves he picked up as a student of music in Florida.

And Bradley, in a duel to win her back, was compelled to charm Rebecca anew with the intro he threw down last week, that lover’s sonnet he crafted as some kind of mating call.

Ay, man, that Bradley's sunrise crescendo lit up the night with brilliancy in tone and musicianship was notwithstanding his hurried work on the passage playing in a different key from the melody, the band having shaken him from his retreat at a city hotel. The Rama and the Hill evoking Anthony Quinn in The Long Wait for the thing. Laventille more anxious than the ice to cool the drinks for the big 'do up the long and winding road to Nirvana. Bradley's confidence squatting atop his shoulders; the band hefting the new load on theirs, running with the novel arrangement, the rocket pans bellowing in an easterly wind.

Straight to the Queen's Park Savannah, the Cyclops eye of Port of Spain; in the arranger's inimitable, unlabored style, the magisterial euphony of a Beethoven symphony mellowing out the band's supporters. The whole lot congealed between the rims of two cow sheds known as the Grand Stand and the North Stand.

Well, then, will the judges not jump tonight?

Yuh mad?

Aficionados, remember the head? Not only the Hill basked.

When it was all played and gone, Rebecca still buzzed around inside every man jack of us who got a whiff of her perfume, the leftovers stashed in her lah-jah-bless purse for J'Ouvert, where Despers leader Rudolph Charles would spend the morning freeing pan rack wheels stuck in the canals and hammering them back into place. People walking up to hug the victorious general, roguish in military fatigues and a mauve towel. Bradley atop the trailer gleaming among all that chrome. Rebecca's man self.


Dalton Narine
Dalton Narine

Dalton Narine interviews Rudolph Charles


contact Dalton Narine at:

check: Remember Rebecca?


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