The Ice Man — Trinidadian street cries preserved in song

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 16.26.09This ice man is not Sir Ernest Shackleton or George Clarke Simpson, but an ultra-rare calypso 7″ by Lord Melody, that preserves some of the Trini street cries of the day. ”Street cry in the city really does amuse me!” he begins:

‘Plantain to boil and fry! Plantain to boil and fry!’

And, ‘Bottles! Bottles! Bottles! Lady any bottles today!’

But the nicest cry of them all, is when I hear the ice man bawl:

‘Ice! Ice! Cold ice! Hard ice! All kind a ice!’

The song — which according to the label was recorded in ‘Feb 60’ — is written by Pat Castagne who also wrote the national anthem of Trinidad and Tobago. Vocal harmonies are provided by The March of Dimes, and the whole arrangement is by Cyril Diaz and his Orchestra.

The record belonged to a good pal of mine in Leeds in the mid-1980s, who had bought it at Portobello Market in the mid-1960s, along with a job lot of ska singles on the Blue Beat and Island labels – by Jackie Edwards, the Blues Busters, Stranger Cole, Theophilus Beckford and many more – and a couple of pounds of cheap tomatoes. Long-short, it was a mistake to have put the tomatoes in the same bag as the records on such a hot day. The whole sorry mess got put in a cupboard and forgotten about for a decade or two, until the subject came up in conversation. Intrigued, I cleaned them up as best I could (warm water and washing up liquid, FYI) so I could listen to them, and we made a tape. I never did find a copy of ‘The Ice Man’ on vinyl, though the screen grab of the label reproduced here came from a copy that had been up for sale on ebay a couple of years ago. This MP3 is extracted from my rather battered cassette, which was made in the mid-1980s, so the quality is not great, but what a song!

All together now: ‘Ice! Ice! Cold ice! Hard ice! All kind a ice!’

As ever, feel free to extract the file from the WordPress player if you want to listen on your own device. The Firefox add-on ‘Download Helper’ is a good way of doing this.