It made afros across Barbados flop with sweat as the population grooved to its every beat. No bell-bottom-wearing party animal could resist when hits like Drink Milk, A Thing About You, Cry Me A River or Love and A Song blared from speakers in the nightclubs of Barbados at a time when sugar was still king.
So where has it gone? Yes, we hear the gorgeous melodies during Independence celebrations, and during any one of the popular back in time fetes.
But where has spouge disappeared to?
In its heyday, spouge radiated from Barbados’ sandy shores and into major markets in the Caribbean, Canada, the USA and even as far as Europe.
The late, great Jackie Opel mesmerized with his octave-spanning voice and slick dance moves, with such profound impact that even the late reggae legend Bob Marley saw him as a study in performance and musical mastery.
The Escorts, Carlyn Leacock, Mike Grosvenor, Richard Stoute, The Draytons, Tony Grazette, The BRC, Wendy Alleyne, Joseph Niles and others, had hectic touring schedules.
And a selection of the who’s who of the genre even stole the show at Madison Square Garden, long before Barbados’ current crop of chart toppers were born.
Upon release from manufacturing company WIRL, vinyls sold by the thousands, particularly in Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica, and fans who are still with us speak fondly of waiting outside record shops until the doors opened, to grab the hot new singles from spouge’s mega-stars and of attending sold out concerts bedecked in the trendy fashions of the era.
The answer to spouge’s absence may be the lack of recordings within the genre over the past three decades. Adaptation of the musical style would not only be interesting, but could also result in mainstream hits being made, in much the same way artistes across the world have unearthed recordings by Enya, Bob Marley, Dame Shirley Bassey and others, to be featured as hooks which turned ordinary modern verses into multi-million-selling blockbusters on the backs of classic melodies which are simply irresistible, regardless of era.
The challenge to our ever-growing and incredibly talented national pool of producers, writers and recording artistes would be to incorporate hooks from the spouge era into soca, hip-hop, pop, rock and reggae, and unearth these hidden gems, which would be viewed globally as new songs by a generation which may never have heard them.
This island possesses the technology and talent to make this happen, but while we wait, we can bask in the remastered releases which have been converted from vinyl to CDs by many of the stars of the genre which is 100 per cent Bajan. Spouge –– it’s ours –– embrace it.
(Ronnie Morris is president of Gold Coast records and director of the Barbados Music Awards. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)