King Short Shirt – When

• “When” set to a Shorty slideshow. Thanks to Riddim Galore.

9.0 “Classic Caribbean from Antigua and Barbuda”

From his album “Ghetto Vibes” (Charlie’s Records CR-103) released in 1976.

The housing album from the 34-year-old McLean Emmanuel was simply glorious; surely he was one of the very finest Calypsonians ever to emerge from the Caribbean, never mind Antigua. He never holds back for a second – with gusto, integrity and skill he delivers his message in a killer style every time.

It’s a close call between my favourite tracks “Tourist Leggo” (9.3), “Nobody Go Run Me” (9.1) and “When” (9.0). Since the former two had long-since been collected, it’s the latter which gets the nod for my blog post today.

The song serves up a stupendous statement in so many ways – the delivery, the lyrics and the music is all first class.

WHEN will mankind turn from their evil?

WHEN will the children rise and shine?

WHEN will crime violence and corruption,

WHEN will they leave the hearts of mankind?

Shorty feels like he could SCREAM, and we can FEEL that. Towards the end, a mournful harmonica, some spoken word and some of his trademark brrrrrrrs send a shiver down my spine.

What an album, completely amazing. It dances, it laughs, it scowls, it barks and it’s all down to the incredible King Short Shirt. If you only own one Caribbean album it has to be “Ghetto Vibes”.

You can read my full album review (together with all my faves from ’76) here.



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