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Casablanca Steel Orchestra - Early Recordings (1947-1953)"Medley", "In A Calabash"

These early recordings from Casablanca Steel band demonstrates the arc in musical development of the steel pan from the late 1940s into the 1950s.
Originally from a 10" Disc recording from 1947, the first tune "Medley" features an early calypso hit from that era "Brown Skin Gal".

The second selection, "In A Calabash",was recorded in 1953. This was the "Road March" tune for Carnival 1950, and a version was most likely played on the road that year by Casablanca.

These are some of the earliest steelband recordings available. They are from the collection"Casablanca Steel Orchestra - Trinidad Steelband (1947-1953)" which features two ten inch DISC recordings by the "Casablanca Steel Band" from 1947, and the SaGomes albums "Casablanca Steel Orchestra" recorded in 1953.

As far as I am aware, the 1947 Casablanca recordings are the earliest known steelpan recordings.

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Comment by yvette johnson on February 3, 2014 at 3:46pm

I like the rhythm.   Call it old fashion.   But, it gets into the belly and moves it around, around and 'roun!

Comment by Glenroy R Joseph on January 10, 2014 at 2:12pm

I received this information from noted Trinidadian historian and writer Bukka Renie:

"What most people miss is the transition in the developmental process of the steelband. We move from "cuff-booms" (no notes and played with the cuff of the palm) to "du-dup" (two-notes- also called "bass-kettle),then to "three-note" (also called "tenor-kettle'); What you heard on "Lion-Oh" by Hell Yard and recorded in Feb 1940 were "Three-Note" pans played by Eric Stowe and Hamilton Thomas (Big-Head Hamil).

All that were done with these pans were what we call "riffs", rhythm. The first pan that could play melodies was the "Ping-Pong" (four-notes). There is a tendency to confuse things and call three-note tenor kettles, "ping-pongs". Big Mistake. Ping-Pong is the 4 note pan. First created by Neville Jules in 1945.

The Blanca recording is the first recording of "ping-pongs". On that 1947 recording of Brown-Skin Girl there were two ping-pongs played by Philip Dunbar and Don Henry, Wallace Reed was on iron and du-dup and Sidney Corrington played an "oblong piece of steel, he played the length of steel using his fingers to vary the tone". In other words he played the Dhantal of East Indian origin. Still very rudimentary in the developmental process."

Comment by Glenroy R Joseph on January 9, 2014 at 7:18pm

    I am aware that the early "Lion oh" recording featuring  the Hell Yard boys (1940) is considered by some to be the earliest steelband recording.

This was definitely recorded at a time when the transition to the steel band was taking place, and one can hear a tuned instrument being played.

However, like the claims of other early "steelbands" including those from Antigua, I consider this to be invalid, since these were rhythm sections, not yet capable of playing complete simple melodies.

I do not think that a rhythm section using steel instruments, but incapable of playing a simple melody with at least two voices - a lead  and an accompanying strumming instrument, supported by the duddup should be considered as a 'steelband", as used in today's lexicon. 

So I do not believe that we had a complete "steel  band" prior to the end of world war II

Of course , friends these are my opinions.

Comment by Glenroy R Joseph on January 8, 2014 at 1:06pm

Teddy, I hear you. We are trying to get information for the record from various sources, and sometimes the info  isn't easily deciphered.

The information I've gotten is from the 1947 -1953 collection, and it gives the gives the lineage of the music.

It includes the two ten inch DISC recordings, catalog numbers 6077 ,6078 (A &B sides) dated 1947, and  SaGomes recordings catalog numbers SG-101, SG-102, SG-120, SG-121, dated 1953.

These would all have been 78rpm recordings on 10' discs, and I concur with your suggestion that the date on the record does not necessarily mean that they were recorded in 1953, based on the time the tunes were popular.

Comment by EDWARD TEDDY PINHEIRO on January 8, 2014 at 8:22am

As more and more info comes to hand there needs to those who may have a slightly opinion, designed not to oppose what has been said but to give room for clearing up the history. One of the first thing that has to be understood is that there is a a long time, as much as a year or more between recording and release, especially when we were in the years following  the end of the war.The waxes had to be sent to England for processing. So it may well be that the "In a calabash" was recorded in 1950. I hardly think It was recorded in 1953, three years after it was the Road March. The other thng Sa Gomes recorded only 78s. Of course I could very well be wrong.

According to the Sa Gomes caralogue, the first two recordings done were Oh Rosie / In a calabash and Last Train to San Fernando / Theme for steel.

Teddy Pinheiro


Comment by Ayesha Mohammed on January 7, 2014 at 1:50pm

Praise to Casablanca! Trailblazers and loyalist to Pan!  Music displays the pace of life of that era!

Comment by Alexis Edwards on January 6, 2014 at 11:51pm

A QUESTION??Desperadoes adopted its name from the   movie of the same name staring Glenn Ford..in 1942.. the year of the movie.Now did  Despers.... adopted its name in that year(1942)......if not..then what year did they get the name DESPORADOES???/really neee..a response regards.

Comment by Alexis Edwards on January 6, 2014 at 10:55pm

I must concur..am aware of those recordings.

Comment by BEDE LOPEZ on January 6, 2014 at 3:58pm

Them was the days of Patsy Haynes, Oscar Pile, One man, they were older than me but I knew them

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