The title track of Yellow Bird, the debut album of Keith Stewart, a popular Caribbean performer of the 1960s but little known stateside, is a perfect example of this function of calypso. A song about the Caribbean's most famous animal, the bananaquit or yellow bird, it works on two levels -- as a personal song of love lost and as a social freedom song. Multiple levels of analogical association create the possibility of multiple interpretations of lines like "Yellow bird, you sit all alone like me," or the slightly ominous "Pick a town sleep from night to noon/Like banana they might pick you one day." While there's definitely a strong traditionalist influence to Stewart's singing, the album's R&B treatments of raditional tunes, like the vampy version of "Angelina," are typical of releases on the West Indies label from this period. Stewart has a beautiful voice and is a solid guitar player, but is not an outstanding songwriter.
His only contribution to the album, "Island Girl," is a lyrically weak tale of love lost while at sea. As an interpreter, however, Stewart is first-rate, and the album has a number of highlights, including the elegant lament "I Will Never Marry," "Wings of a Dove," and the Alice Simms' classic "Calypso Island." Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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