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"The Big Bamboo"

pleases one and all

Perhaps the funniest calypso of all is "The Big Bamboo," the signature hit of the Duke of Iron. It is the classic, double-entendre, "naughty" calypso. Merely printing the lyrics here would not do it justice, and indeed there are many, many ad-lib, "lost," and corrupted verses (even an alternate chorus) among the many versions listed below. "The Big Bamboo" is not a song for the humor-impaired or prudish, but once you've heard it, you must admit: "The Big Bamboo" pleases one and all.

"The Big Bamboo" joins, so to speak, the two greatest calypsonians on record. The Duke of Iron covered at least one other Mighty Sparrow song, and Sparrow has recorded the Duke's classic several times. He acknowledges the Duke (his direct forebear in naughty calypsos and the previous chief exponent and modernizer of calypso) directly in a live rendition of the song. In a late soca update, he adds his own "Japanese" verse to go along with the "Chinese" verse which was traditional but so awful it was often omitted.

"The Big Bamboo" comes in all shapes and sizes; there are significant regional and chronological variations, as with many calypsos. In the Bahamas, Roy Shurland led the Big Bamboo Orchestra at Nassau's major nightclub, "The Big Bamboo." The club and his arrangement of the song paved the way for many other records on the great Caribe label. In later years the song retained favor among steel bands and electrified calypso bands.

"The Big Bamboo"

    Trinidad/West Indies

  1. The Duke of Iron: Calypso Carnival featuring the Duke of Iron
  2. Various (Count of Monte Cristo): The Caribbean Calypsonians
  3. Mighty Panter (sic) with Lad Richards: West Indian Calypso Magic; ART ALP-18; 1956
  4. The Mighty Panther: Sings Songs of Dynamite
  5. Lord Creator: The Big Bamboo
  6. Mighty Sparrow: Tattoo Woman
  7. Mighty Sparrow: Best of--Live at the Blue Coronet
  8. Mighty Sparrow: Party Classics 3 (soca version)


  9. Ronnie Butler Steps Out [at the Fabulous Big Bamboo]
  10. Ronnie [Butler] & the Ramblers: Party Album #1--Direct from Ronnie's Rebel Room; R&R 9824
  11. Richie Delamore: Delamore Sings
  12. Richie Delamore: This Is (live)
  13. Jonathan Kemp w/John Chipman's Confidential Club Orchestra: Confidential Carnival; Island Artists LP-1002
  14. King Eric & his Knights: BA MA Hit Parade
  15. King Eric & his Knights: At the Big Bamboo
  16. King Eric & his Knights at the Emerald Beach Hotel; Elite ERS-1
  17. Duke Errol & his Lords: Nassau Island
  18. Duke Hanna & his Caribbeans: A Perfect Day at Small Hope Bay with; Elite LP-OE-6
  19. The Igniters Steel Band: Jump Up; ISB-20078; 1978
  20. Little Joe & his Calypsonians [eponymous]
  21. Kenny & the Beach Boys: The Fantastic Music of Kenny & the Beach Boys; Singca 102
  22. Kenny & the Beach Boys: Good Morning Mr. Walker; Elite OE-36; 1969
  23. Roy Shurland, Big Bamboo Orchestra: The Big Bamboo
  24. Various: Calypso Party Featuring Outstanding Calypso Artists; Art ALP-7A (Pershing De Graff)
  25. Various: Hits from Bahama Hot Spots (George Symonette)


  26. Rolando Alphonso & the Soul Bros. (Skatalites): Ska-Au-Go-Go; Studio One SO-111 (w/the Wailers, Soulettes, Gaylads)
  27. Lord Antics & the Lyons Band: Hotter Than Hot; Dynamic Sound
  28. Tony DaCosta: On His Way Up; Global [no #]
  29. The Gaylads: Sunshine is Golden; CoxSone CSL-8006
  30. The Hiltonaires: Big Bamboo
  31. The Hiltonaires: Seven Bells
  32. The Island Champions: Silver Seas Calypsos; Ritmo 507; 1959 (also on SOC)
  33. The Jolly Boys: Pop 'n' Mento; First Warning FW002-1; 1989
  34. Lord Brynner's Big Big Bamboo Calypso; Erin LP-1941 (Jamaica & Canada)
  35. Lord Jellicoe & his Calypso Monarchs: The Big Bamboo
  36. Lord Jellicoe & his Calypso Monarchs: At the Sheraton; Wirl 1040
  37. Lord Radio & the Bimshire Boys [eponymous]
  38. Lord Tyrone & the Clouds: Steel Band Memories & Island Songs
  39. The Merrymen [eponymous]
  40. The Silver Seas Calypso Band: Silver Seas Calypsos
  41. West Stars Steel Band: Steel Band Memories
  42. The Wrigglers: At the Arawak
  43. [Uncredited]; For Adults Only; Vitadisc H-43


  44. Eddy de [Mello] Steel Kings: Instrumentally Bermuda
  45. Lord Necktie (Stan Seymour): Calypso Carnival
  46. Various: Calypso Carnival (Lloyd Simmons, Red Smith Trio, Moira, Ghandi Burgess, Bishop Caines, King Trott, Graham Bean, Terry Brannon, Eugene Steed (Gene Steede of Gene & Pinky), Eric Webb, Mac Lightbourne, Al de Josheph); Oleander OLP-104

    Baltimore, MD, USA

  47. The Swingin' Swamis: [demo]

    Washington, DC, USA

  48. Claude/Christian/Raymond/Jean-Louis: A Night at La Nicoise Restaurant; Mark Custom MC-8923 (lounge act/French/blue-eyed calypso; 7" stereo compact-33 by staff of DC French restaurant; Introduction, L'Amerique, Aux Champs Elysees, Big Bamboo, Dar Lidada)

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