Spouge is a style of Barbadian popular music created by Jackie Opel in the 1960s. It is primarily a fusion of Jamaican ska with Trinidadian calypso, but is also influenced by a wide variety of musics from the British Isles and United States, include sea shanties, hymns and spirituals. Spouge instrumentation originally consisted of cowbell, bass guitar, trap set and various other electronic and percussion instruments, later augmented by saxophone, trombone and trumpets. Of these, the cowbell and the guitar are widely seen as the most integral part of the instrumentation, and are said to reflect the African origin of much of Barbadian music.
|Music of the Anglophone Caribbean|
Two different kinds of spouge were popular in the 1960s, raw spouge (Draytons Two style) and dragon spouge (Cassius Clay style). The spouge industry grew immensely by the end of the 1970s, and produced popular stars like The Escorts International, Blue Rhythm Combo, the Draytons Two and The Troubadours, Desmond Weekes. Desmond Weekes, the former lead singer of the Drayton Two claims the 1973 album Raw Spouge to be "the only 100 per cent spouge album ever produced". The album topped the charts in a number of islands, including St. Kitts, St. Lucia and Dominica.
In 1950, Opel sang with a band at Coconut Creek Club, St James and his Jackie Wilson like voice soon made him popular. He appear on some local shows with well-known overseas performers, and Jackie Opel the supporting act usually became the star performer as he vigorously performed every note and "out shone" the star. During this time Ska the forerunner beat to the reggae was popular in Jamaica and calypso was popular in Trinidad. So Jackie Opel and his band the troubadours developed the Spouge beat which was to be Barbados' answer to Ska in Jamaica and Calypso in Trinidad. Spouge became so popular that every local band and singer in Barbados and throughout the Caribbean recorded their music using the Spouge beat. Spouge's popularity spread throughout the Caribbean to the extent that the Spouge beat became even more popular than Ska or Calypso.
Unfortunately, after six years the art form declined to the extent that today very little Spouge is played on the airwaves. Spouge is only played on Jackie Opel's Birthday, Independence Day, Heroes Day and Errol Barrow Day. Spouge has declined from other reasons:
- The man who created Spouge died in a car accident on March 9, 1970 at the age of 32. It is believed that if Jackie Opel had lived he would have been the one to further develop and market the beat around the world.
- The Barbados media does not promote Spouge to the extent that it can. Over the years, foreign artists and their music have consistently been given priority over local music.
- In the popular years of Spouge it is believed that it suffered from "over play" which served to make it a beat that people eventually grew tired of.
In 2002 Caribbean Records Inc released a CD entitled Vintage Spouge with hits on it such as "Gimme Music" by Mike Grosvenor, "Any Day Now" by Richard Stoute and a cover of Sam Cooke's "You Send Me", sung by spouge creator Jackie Opel.
- Millington, pg. 820 Millington lists the American and British influences as including Welsh, Scottish and Irish elements, "transmitted through literature and poetry (Shakespeare and Milton), rhymes, folk songs, sea shanties, classical music, hymns, and other songs of praise (all of which have) been constantly available, providing entertainment, edification and general education to all people of Barbados. North American love songs, parlor songs, African-American spirituals and folk hymns, and hillbilly music have also contributed to a cultural mixture in which the love of a song, the expression through movement, and demand for theater continue to be of paramount importance".