Should panorama judging be abolished?
For the longest while I've been pondering this question, and my usual answer has been no, we need competition, because it brings out the best in the bands and arrangers.
But listening to Nu-Tones Panorama winning performance of David Rudder's "High Mas" for the umpteenth time, I realize how subjective the judging really is.
I mean no disrespect to the legend Clive Bradley, and nothing against Nu-Tones (we all love to see the lesser known bands succeed), but I've listened to this tune upside down and across, and I still can't get the vibes that the judges got from this tune that competition night.
I've even listened to the tune after trying some of the stuff that the judges may have been smoking and I still can't get it.
Now, I don't have any credentials in music No degrees, accolades or letters after my name, but if there is one thing I know, it's sweet pan music.
And I also know that music , like beauty being in the eye of the beholder, is in the ear of the listener.
I've been loving pan since biscuit drum, pan round neck days.
One of my earliest memories is of my dad taking me to see J'ouvert, and seeing some large men beating drums hanging around their necks. They were chased by the police, because as they beat their drums they were chanting some obscene lyrics to the tune of "I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts" , which was a hit in 1950.(I checked).
So I don't need any judges to tell me how pan music should sound.
Take Panorama 1984, for example. This is one of my favorite panoramas of yesteryear, though there may have been too much of "Lucy in the Savannah".
Check out the top four placing bands. They were:
1) Kitch's "Sweet pan" by Renegades (Jit)
2)Sparrow's "Doh Back Back" by Trinidad All Stars (Smooth)
3)Kitch's "Tourist Elsie" by Casablanca (Henry "Bendix" Cumberbatch).
4)Baron's "The Jammer" by Desperadoes(Bradley)
Now does anyone have the right to tell any of these four arrangers that someone else's arrangement is
"better" than theirs?
You may like one arrangement more than the other , but is it "better"?
It is purely subjective. And subjective decisions can have serious impact on the fortunes of bands and arrangers.
Another case in point.
Can anyone really say that Jit's " Mystery Band" was better than Boogsie's "Birthday Party" in 1993?
It is your right to prefer one tune over the other, but does that make it better?
Forget about all the BS about judging criteria. We are talking about music, and it's all in the ear of the listener.
I personally think that Professor's "Pan by Storm" may have been his best work ever, and the best performance of 1990, yet he was not a "winner".
I think it's Insulting.
One of the main reasons for the competition was to channel the rivalries between bands away from violence and into something more constructive, and in that we've succeeded.
Now it's time for something different.
Don't worry Panorama lovers, I do have an alternative suggestion.
We can still have the preliminaries and even the semifinals.
It would be relatively easy to pick the top dozen or so bands in the land.
Let the Final night be a Festival instead of a competition, and divide the pot between the bands appearing at that time.
The bands themselves (or the steelband governing body) could decide whether to divide the pot equally between all the bands, or maybe to use some sort of a lottery system where all bands would stand an equal chance to win the top prize. This way, nobody feels like a looser.
I don't believe that outstanding pan arrangers and bands need competition to produce great music.