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Republished from PAN Summer 1988 - Vol.3 No.1
Provided by, and republished with the expressed permission of, PAN Magazine

by Dalton Narine

The best you can say about anything is that it is the greatest in the world. Greatness is an absolute distinction that shouldn’t be measured or taken lightly. And it is in such regard that this writer must take issue with a New York daily which, several months ago, touted Desperadoes as the greatest steel band in the world. Now, hype is hype, but “pan talk” is a serious preoccupation in down-to-earth Trinidad and ‘Tobago, the land of, well, the greatest steel bands in the world. And, there’s the rub.


The names of several bands rush to memory when superior quality and character are considerations in the best-steel band debate. In alphabetical order, the list includes Casablanca, City Symphony, City Syncopators, Crossfire, Desperadoes, Ebonites, Guinness (actually, Cavaliers), Highlanders, Invaders, Pan Am North Stars, Phase II, Renegades, Silver Stars, Solo (or Harmonites), Southern All Stars, Starlift, ‘Tokyo, and Trinidad All Stars. Here is a rundown, as well as the lowdown, on how these bands stack up against each other:


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(Solo) Harmonites with Earl Rodney changed the dynamics of Panorama tunes arrangement. Check Harmonites 1968-1974
Runners # 1 cause Pantribago to cap SteelBands at 100 players maximum, Harmonites the first Large Prize $6000.00. I played in the glory days of Harmonites, we were the greatess of that era. four times National Champions 1968-1974.
I was about to ask if this is the same guy, then I spotted your comment. Hameed Abdul Shaqq, I have always talked about you and your skills to younger pan players over the years. I have never forgotten how much inspiration I got from men like you and La Fleur when I joined Solo Harmonites in '74 as a guitar pan player. I doubt you will remember me but we used to chat at times. I remember you and the way you seriously approached the double-tenor parts you had to play. Good to hear your voice again, if only through WST. It's been 34 odd years, man.
Everybody just beatin around the bush, we know everyone has different opinions on this subject, and it is hard to decide this, but to end all of this talk, look at the records of each band, look at if the bands is still in existance. U cannot argue what is on paper, some of these are not around now, and some of these just arrived, Desperadoes never left and still standin strong.
Yuh luv bacanal oui! Which is the greatest football team in the world?
I was born at 106 Henry Street(now a Parking Lot),back in 1951.As a "young tess"I used to visit Trinidad All Stars
Panyard on Duke Street(between Park and Charlotte Streets).For me Trinidad All Stars will always be the greatest
Steeband ever........and by this article I see that the author has written a lot about Trinidad All Stars....the other bands
did not have much to write about.....so who is the Best ever..........the Greatest?.........All Stars......thats' right
u have been so mistaken Mr McDaniel. with all due respects if anyone was to write a real article on all the bands both u and i know that desperadoes will have the longest story due to the fact of it's history. This article, in case u didnt know had ALOT of errors so u may need to get some correction then reply. . .
Ah love your answer all are great!
We need think really hard about what we mean when we say, "Which is the Greatest Steel Band in the World?" I personally, like to avoid such questions because when you analyze it, it doesn't make much sense.

Even in this thread, "Kim Johnson" has listed several bands that he believes are worthy of that distinction, BUT for different reasons and he gives those bands credit dating back to the 1940's, which is fine. However, some of us are thinking of the bands today, but are we thinking of how great they sound? Are we thinking about how professional they are and how well structured they are like Exodus? Are we considering the medium and small bands or do only big bands count. Have we factored into account, bands in other countries? Is the so called greatest band also the greatest at playing Classical, Jazz, Bossa Nova, etc.? Does the greatest band also have the greatest arrangements and the greatest instruments? Does the band with the most Panorama wins equate to the greatest band on earth (Renegades, for now at least)?

Do you see the problem?

What is the criteria that enables a band to say it's the best in the world? I'm sure we will have vigorous debate even on that topic. Even if we somehow came up with a critieria or criterias, a band that was great yesterday is not great today and a band that great today may not be great tomorrow.

I have said all this, not to discredit the accomplishments of Trinidad's bands, but to get us to think hard about what we are saying because to me, it really doesn't make much sense.

ps.
I just saw Victor's post...he sums it up nicely.
I agree with Gospel pan again...maybe I should nominate GP for greatest forum writer - for this week!! (lol)

Maybe this forum should put together some criteria and have a greatest award show for steelbands for the previous year, and then host it every year....and have everybody vote on specific criteria...and then hand out the award...all on the forum....that way we dont have to incur any costs!....

So all who vote for Exodus as the greatest band 2007-2008....say AYE....and all who vote for Boogsie as greatest pan player "2007-2008" say aye...and then we count it up for every nominated person/band...highest votes get award for da yeaR, and then we can move on to more fruitful debate/discussion....
Pan Am North Stars for the argument, they were trendsetters! lol dont for forget Tripoli they toured with Liberachi!
You know what, alot of of people just cant deal with certain topics, and then you try to make it into a joke, probably your band didnt make the list that is why some of you dont want to deal with the question, but just keep it real, that is what these conversations is about, for people to debate. Some people want to keep pan under the same regime, but its time for new things, that is what the old timers are scared of.

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