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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Imaginations - Forever Rockin'

Name: Imaginations
Album: Forever Rockin
Year: 1985
Style: Calypso, Ska
Similar Bands: Kid Creole & Coconuts, English Beat
"One-Word" Review: fastbeat-happy-real-ska
Based Out Of: St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
Label: Self Produced
Forever Rockin' - Cover & Record
Forever Rockin - Back & Record

Forever Rockin (1985)
  1. Children Rock 6:06
  2. Woman Take Over 4:09
  3. The Iron Man 5:43 /
  4. The Heat Is On 3:51
  5. Break Dancing 2:55
  6. Clear The Way 5:45
  7. Party Grover 4:02
Album Rating (1-10): 6.0

Members & Other Bands:
Dicksie Jarvis - St Tenor Sax
Alvaro DeLugo III - Trumpet
Sergio (Messiah) Feliciano - Trumpet, Arrangements
Rudolph E. Sebastian - Trumpet
Joseph A. Engerman, Jr - Trombone
Michael Coggings - Trombone
Kelvin A. Cardin - Keys
Funk Gumbs - Keys, Arrangements
Albert Vanterpool - Guitar
Lonard Monsanto II - Drums
Dar(y)il Scott - Bass, Vox, Arrangements
Wilfredo Michael - Percussions
Rubio Finch - Percussions
Alphonso Demming - Vox
Geroge (Val) Whyte - Vox
Steve Tyrell - Cox
Jeanette Rouse - Backing Vox
Robert Becker - Cover Design
Cecil O Forbes - Cover Design, Exec Producer
Peter Andrews - Cover Design
Hilton Colon - Mixing

Unknown-ness: I never heard of these guys. I bought it because of the amazing artwork. The cover is so energetic, full of Japanese explosive sun imagery, and the back is familiar and cute, with the yearbook advertising like promotions of local businesses in the Virgin Islands. At first I thought they were fake (which they could be) but I think they are for real now. I like how some of the advertisers wish the band luck and congratulations. I see that the label is calypso records, so that is a dead give-a-way to the genre. But the band itself is huge, and I’m excited to check out a fun island sound.

Album Review: Let me first say, I could not find anything about this album anywhere. I’ve seen the name Imaginations Brass, also from the VI’s, but I don’t know if it is the same band.

“Children Rock” is a happy constantly moving song, featuring fast bongos/conga drums, horns that burst with excitement and upbeat party atmosphere. You can hear the smiles that the singers must be making in the vocals. There is a great usage of electronic synth too, that adds just a touch of diversity in brief moments. If there is any fault, is that the repetitiveness of the song is enhanced due to the length of the song. It is an incredibly catchy rhythm, but it does go on, feeling like an extended version of Buster Poindexter’s “Hot Hot Hot.” It ends in new wave style surge of energy
“Woman Take Over” picks up on the uber-glee and fast island/calypso music. The synth makes an interesting steel drum effect which parallels the melody that the excited horns play. And it fades out as the different horns solo briefly.
“The Iron Man” again features the electronic steel drum sound. But the music style, even though the drums are still fiery fast, the general tempo is slower, enough so to do easier dance moves to. The chorus is a nice three note downward scale played in different ranges, also in a downward scale. The constant drumming pace makes for the repetitive nature of the song.

“The Heat Is On” begins with cop sirens, and bleeds right into the drums and upbeat horns. This song is a little more like a dancing can-can show than basic island music. I guess the can-can shows are based on the same music, but this just feels more theatrical. But it is still very fast. Laser blasts are synthly produced over the end of the song; kinda new wave, and kinda disco.
“Break Dancing” continues again in the unfaltering energy output and fast authentic reggae/ska style singing. This song features a very fun chorus. A choir of voices chants Break, as the lead vocals follow up with dancing. And it is sung in a melody that is part conga, part salsa. Other percussive elements are layered in the background besides the normal drums. The structure is such that the verses are very short, and the chours comes on to take up equal time as the verse.
“Clear The Way” has more synth than the other songs at the outset, like a Sonic the Hedgehog level. But it sounds like a ska song with the trumpets. The percussion still thumps and pounds on.
“Party Grover” is a smoother, sexier song than the rest of the record. The occelating drum and cymbal is still pulsing, but the synth keyboard is much smoother, and the horns are used in short sporadic burst as an accent rather than the main musical force. The scene it creates is a smoky and sweaty club scene. Like a more authentic “All Night Long” And this is the first instance where I recognize the female vocals supplementing the lead vocals, but they have perhaps been there the whole time.

Stand Out Track: Break Dancing

Links:

2 comments:

  1. Yes, this is the same Imaginations Brass from the Virgin Islands. They are one of the better bands that hail from the Virgin Islands, and were popular in the 80s and early 90s.

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  2. I went to St. Thomas for my birthday in the late 1980's, and the Imaginations were playing a jump-up in Frenchtown. I met Daryl Scott, the leader, and had to commend them because of the band's fierceness... they literally NEVER stopped during a 1 1/2 hr. set. Their trick was to have each musician take a 10 min break individually, without stopping the music. Two male dancers had this rather strange ritual where they essentially hugged and danced really close... and the minute one of them really got frisky, they'd both beat the crap out of each other... and then they would get back together and dance! It was really weird. The music was really, really tight, particularly the brass section and the bass and percussion (one of the items was literally a tire iron). What a fun band...

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