(1955) Edric Connor and the Southlanders – Songs from Trinidad
Year issued: 1955
Argo issue number: RG 57
Cover art: Olga Lehmann
Availability: long deleted; Argo released an EP of tracks from the album in 1961.
Edric Connor – vocals
The Southlanders (Vernon Nesbeth, Frank Mannah, Allan and Harry Wilmot) – harmony vocals
The Lord’s prayer
Murder in the market
The Virgin Mary had a baby boy
Mercy pourin’ down
Time for man go home
Death, Oh me Lord
Papa didn’t know
Bye and bye me Lord
Girl in the coffee
This was Connor’s second of three albums with vocal harmony group The Southlanders (the first was Songs from Jamaica in 1954 when they were known as the Caribbeans).
Here’s what a reviewer in The Gramophone made of this album when it was released:
“Some of the songs are like sea-shanties in that they were designed to fit the rhythmical movements of a particular job and in the main it is these that are the most attractive ; notably One, Two, Three (reaping) and Highlan’ Dey (hauling timber for building houses). But Doggie, Doggie and Jestine are very attractive in their different ways.”
In 1958 Oxford University Press published the scores of 45 Songs from Trinidad collected and edited by Connor and arranged for voices, guitar, drum, and bass by Gareth Walters. Long out of print, it includes the 19 songs on this LP plus such gems as Blow, Nelson.
In 1945, Boosey & Hawkes published The Edric Connor Collection of West Indian Spiritual and Folk Tunes, arranged for voice and piano.
Notes about The Southlanders
When Connor was planning the LP Songs of Jamaica, he asked Nesbeth, who he had been coaching in singing, to see if he could put a vocal backing group together. The recording over, Connor persuaded them to stay together and invited them along to perform with him in cabaret at the Celebrity Restaurant in Central London.
“This man was so unselfish that he took the risk of having a group of novices join him, in his professional engagement at the restaurant, to perform two of the songs they’d recorded for their L.P. It is doubtful if any other artist would take such a risk. The show was a success. Edric Connor had a heart of Pure Gold,” was Nesbeth’s opinion of his mentor. Read more.
Although the Southlanders went on to have several chart hits – the biggest of which was Alone in 1957 – they’re probably best known and loved for their song I am a mole and I live in a hole. If you were a kid in the late ‘fifties/early ‘sixties, you’ll have sung its bass refrain in the playground with your chums.
Nesbeth is still singing with the latest version of the Southlanders – “the longest running male vocal group in British pop history” – doing cabaret and cruise liners.
Many thanks to eBay seller Dave Ayre for providing the pix of the LP and to Vernon Nesbeth for quotes and the picture of the group’s first performance above.