Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Roaring Lion

  • Sacred 78's [Ice, 1994] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Sacred 78's [Ice, 1994]
Lion (a/k/a Hubert Raphael Charles, Raphael De Leon) was the most recorded Trinidadian of the pre-World War II era, and title notwithstanding, this selection of classics (plus a few '50s pleasantries) has nothing to do with praising the Lord--or no matter how happily he tapped into Shango ritual, the orishas either. Even more than most calypsonians, Lion played the secular sophisticate, cultivating foreigners, intellectuals, Atilla the Hun, Rudy Vallee. Because he took pride in not repeating himself, he deployed more tunes than the competition, and if some of his arrangements are almost pop, "Rhumba Dance" amd "Bamsee Lambay" are almost Latin tinge. Subjects include flies, Queen Elizabeth's royal tour, girls who dance with girls, a pyromaniac, agape, and sex, which the man who made "Ugly Woman" famous rarely if ever associates with love. A-