Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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  • King of the World [B's, 1984] A-

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King of the World [B's, 1984]
Though one distinction between calypso and soca is that the earlier style wasn't geared to phonographic reproduction, I much prefer the two hard-to-find calypso compilations I've recently gotten to know (More Sparrow More!! on Recording Artists, Hot and Sweet on Warner Bros.). And though the greatest of the modern calypsonians claims right here that he's not a "Soca Man," the album's dance groove is compulsive enough for disco. But Sparrow remains a supremely resonant singer with a taste for resonant lyrics: "Grenada" lays into Cuban accommodations without letting Reagan off the hook, "Marahjin Cousin" satirizes racial complexities unimaginable in our polarized land. The reason he works variations on the same few melodies is that they're all classics. And his groove is worth a go. A-