Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music


SHADOW, Mighty

(b Winston Bailey, 4 Oct., late '30s, Les Coteaux, Tobago) Unique calypsonian and soca artist, usually referred to as Shadow. Grew up on grandfather's farm, began composing at age nine; joined group Fire Sticks that provided backing vocals at Mighty Sparrow's tent, appeared solo there '70 but forgot his lines. Joined Victory tent '71 led by Lord Blakie (Carlton Joseph), recorded 'The Threat' that year (directed at Sparrow and Lord Kitchener); moved '73 to Kitchener's tent for three seasons. Infl. by style of Mighty Spoiler (Theophilus Phillip: 1926--60), the great exponent of humorous and imaginative calypso. He has a propensity for the eccentric with a touch of eeriness; often wears dark clothing with broad-brimmed hat and regal cape; some of his calypsos tell of bizarre, sometimes violent events in an unmistakable raspy voice, interspersed with tremulous humming; from early on his work also had a strand of insightfulness and sensitivity, qualities which have become more developed and prominent in his later output. Two of his calypsos, 'Obeah Ma Man' and 'Run Du- Du', were incl. in album Calypso In Rage '73 on Straker's. He won first and second places in the Road March contest '74 (see Calypso) with 'Bass Man' and 'Ah Come Out To Play', breaking the stranglehold on the title held for eleven years by Kitchener and Sparrow (both incl. in LP Bass Man '74 on Straker's, as well as autobiographical 'Winston'). He reached Calypso Monarch final '74, but despite having the crowd eating out of his hand with 'Bass Man', was pipped by Sparrow. 'King From Hell' and 'Rap To Me' from King From Hell '75 got him into Calypso Monarch final; moved to Sparrow's tent '76 and released Constant Jammin': title track and 'Shift Yuh Carcass' got him into Monarch final again; LP also incl. 'Pressure'. During the off-season (i.e., after Carnival) he released The Flipside Of Shadow; in '77 Dreadness, incl. 'Jump, Judges, Jump' an attack on the judges of the Calypso Monarch contest, concluding that they had 'degrees in stupidity'. In '77 off-season came 12]im[ single 'Shadow Thing' on Charlie's. He moved to the Kingdom of the Wizards calypso tent '78; De Zessman incl. Road March contender 'Sugar Plum'.

Shadow appeared with Calypso Rose in Bacchanal Time '78, composing and performing title track in film, soundtrack LP and a single. From '79 he headed his own Master's Den tent; If I Coulda, I Woulda, I Shoulda '79 is probably his best album, incl. 'Dat Soca Boat' (about encounter with a calypsonian who challenged his reputation, threatened him with violence), 'Through The Mirror' (about his self-image), 'Jumbies', 'Dread Wizard'. Off-season '79 brought single 'Evolution -- Part One And Two'. Title track Doh Mess Wid Meh Head '80 expressed feeling that he was rejected by Calypso Monarch judges and others in authority because he came from the ghetto; off-season album Shadow Wake Up '80 incl. hit 'Charlane' also incl. on Music Fever '81, the top-selling LP during Carnival season that year; also issued 12]im[ single 'Yesterday Was Yesterday'/'Freedom Street'. Return Of The Shadow '82 ended years on Charlie's; he went back to Straker's with Going Off '83, incl. 'Ah Come Out To Party'; in film of '83 Carnival commissioned by UK's Channel 4 he performed title track and 'Pirates'. Return Of De Bassman '84 incl. 'Snakes', about Trinidad's ruling party; made UK debut '84. His next two LPs dropped horns from the instrumentation: Sweet Sweet Dreams '84 off-season on Kalico and Mystical Roots '85 on MRS (one of his poorest sellers). He was featured in TV film Kaiso '85, also from Channel 4; Better Than Ever '86 on Charlie's had him back on form, with horns on most tracks. Did not head a tent '86 but performed with Spektakula tent; appeared at Socalypso '86 in London. Belatedly organized Master's Den tent '87, but it closed before the end of Carnival season because of poor business; '87 LP was Raw Energy on B's, incl. 'Janette' and 'Ah Hearing Pan'. Placed third in the Stag/Vat 19 T&T 25th Anniversary of Independence Calypso Competition with immortal 'Bass Man' and specially composed 'From Then To Now'.

He returned to vintage form with High Tension '88 on Straker's, standout album of the season, incl. pounding 'Tension' attacking the 'soca controllers' who attempt to subvert his power and double entendre smash hit 'The Garden Want Water', winner of NAFEITA (National Awards for Excellence) award for 'Best Humorous Song'; also honoured for his composition 'One Love' recorded by David Rudder in tribute to Shadow on his LP Haiti '88. Came last (eighth) in second King of Kings contest May '88 (Sparrow retained the title). '89 album Pressure Point on Straker's was another helping of original Shadow, spawned hit 'Feeling The Feeling'; headed new Mas Camp calypso tent that year, a derivative of the Mas Camp Pub in Woodbrook, Port of Spain, location of Peter Minshall's mas camp (see Rudder entry for more on Minshall); tent's cast incl. Carl and Carol Jacobs, who did theme song for Minshall's '89 mas band 'Santimanitay' (on their LP Street Dancing '89 on Crosby's). Cast also incl. one of Shadow's five children, Shawn Bailey, who debuted '88 in National Carnival Commission's (NCC) New Wave Calypso Tent and placed second in '88 Junior Calypso Monarch competition. Brass Band Sound Revolution (aka Sound Rev) dedicated their '89 album Soca Demon on Crosby's to Shadow. His LP offerings for '90--91 seasons were The Monster '90 (incl. hits 'Tan Tan', 'Country Boy') and Keep On Dancin' '91 (incl. hit 'It's Alright'), both on Straker's. Performed at Mas Camp tent during '92 season; debuted on Kisskidee label with Winston Bailey Is The Shadow '92 incl. major hits 'Music' and AIDS statement 'Soucouvant'; assisted Singing Sonia (21- year-old Sonia Francis, also at Mas Camp) write 'Professional Advice' and 'Are We Us?', which earned her National Calypso Queen title '92, sixth position in Young Kings contest and took her into Calypso Monarch final. Re-entered Calypso Monarch race '93 after refusing to participate for 17 years; final night selections 'Survival Road' (from Moods Of The Shadow '93 on Kisskidee) and 'Dreamer Lady' (not recorded) placed eighth; said afterwards: 'I never get no crown, but they can't touch my music. The Shadow music sweet too bad.' Performed with new Kisskidee Kaiso Karavan tent '94, which contractually prohibited him from competing in the second National Soca Monarch Competition; despite outstanding performances of hits 'Pay De Devil' and 'Poverty Is Hell' (both on Dingolay '94 on Kisskidee) at Calypso Monarch semi-final that year, judges outrageously didn't select him for final. Issued Enchanted on Crossroads for '95 season; judges omitted him from that year's Calypso Monarch semi-final. CD Shadow Mania 1 '95 on Crossroads incl. six songs from Enchanted and remakes of 'Bass Man' and 'Ah Come Out To Play'; The Best Of Shadow Vol. 1 '95 on Straker's compiled original recordings; released 12]im[ single 'The Heat Is On' (aka 'Oy Oy')/'For Better Or Worse' on JW for '96 season (incl. on CD Shadow Mania 2 '97 on Crossroads). He and Black Stalin headlined NCC's Kaiso House tent for '97 season; there performed poignant 'Mr Brown', about how love changes in marriage, and 'Hop Rabbit' from the commendable Shadow Mania 2; wrote hit 'Lunatic' (from LP World Soca Monarch '97 on Mc D Knife) for Ronnie McIntosh (b 14 April '63, Trinidad, son of legendary arranger Arthur De Coteau [1928-- 87]; Soca Monarch '95, World Soca Monarch '96, joint International Soca Monarch '97). Shadow said that soca: ' just a new name for modern calypso', and that his claim to fame is for 'moving the bottom of the music, and introducing the changes in the bass lines ... My music is characterized by a lot of energy, because of my emphasis on the foot drums and bass ... What everybody's doing now is considered to be soca. But that is because the word spread so big after Shorty did his mixture. But I have never copied from them. If what they're doing is soca, and what I have done is soca, the truth lies within there, because I have always remained original.' (quotes from T 'n' T Mirror, 10 Feb. '89).