Oh, Rebecca

How Bradley Fashioned a beautiful Intro for her, then Won her in the end

by Dalton Narine

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Dalton Narine

Dalton Narine

Rebecca Was Something Else, Yes

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.

Clive Bradley
The late Clive Bradley on stage

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 savior 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.

WST notes - Desperadoes is the 1983 Steelband Panorama champions. The arranger is master Clive Bradley and the tune of choice is Rebecca by Blue Boy.

   Desperadoes Steel Orchestra - Rebecca - Panorama 1983

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 loverís sonnet he crafted as some kind of mating call.

Brados (on phone in his room at Holiday Inn ): Come on up. I have something for you.

Ay, man, play that one more time. This is rich. What a lead-in to the woman every man Jack is after.

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 the 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, excuse me, Johannes Brahmsí fourth ó 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.

Brados had a gift for combining complex harmonic practices of the Romantic era with the clear musical structures of the Classical era. Because he composed primarily absolute music (as opposed to the program music

BRADOS (cackling): You like that, eh?

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 up the victorious general, roguish in military fatigues and a mauve towel. Bradley atop the trailer gleaming among all that chrome.

Rebecca's man self.


Panorama Champions of the 20th Century...

   Desperadoes Steel Orchestra - "Rebecca"


Dalton Narine
About the author, Dalton Narine

Dalton Narine is a Belmont-born Trinidadian who dabbled in the arts and wrote about Trinidad & Tobago culture. He spent the other half of his career as a filmmaker and TV broadcaster during T&Tís annual Carnival. Narine is an avid collector of calypsos by The Mighty Shadow, a singer, he says, who had a knack for telling stories on himself and his own country that, at last, has embraced him.

contact Dalton Narine at: narain67@gmail.com

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