Sparrow Dragon Again, recorded in 1975, is one of two albums (the other being Sparrow Meets the Dragon, 1969) that the Mighty Sparrow recorded with the great Jamaican bassist-bandleader-producer Byron Lee (1935–2008). Lee is widely credited with introducing the electric bass to Jamaica and helping to popularize its use. The versatile and defatigable Lee led the Dragonaires for decades, issuing dozens of albums in a variety of Caribbean styles, including ska, calypso, reggae and soca.
This album consists of nine Sparrow vocals and three instrumentals by Lee and his band. There are two remakes of vintage Sparrow tunes—"Obeah Wedding" and "No Kind of Man At All"—and a new song written by Sparrow, "Dragon Dance." Sparrow also croons the David Gates composition "If" and pours his heart out on "Let Me Try Again," a tune made famous by one of Sparrow's musical heroes, Frank Sinatra. (Sparrow reprised the number on his 1978 album Only A Fool.)
Speaking of Sinatra, Sparrow pays further homage to Ol' Blues Eyes with a soulful rendition of "My Way." Far from copying Sinatra, Sparrow delivers a powerful, stylistically singular rendition that brims with charisma. The ending—an expected series of chord changes—is sheer genius.
The cover versions prove (again) that Sparrow was comfortable in multiple musical idioms and always had great potential as a crossover artist.
One final note: This is probably the only album by the Mighty Sparrow that features MELLOTRON (credited as "Mellotron strings" by N. Hinds). This haunting keyboard device, whose sounds derive from tape loops of pre-recorded instruments, was an early analog sampling device. It first came to prominence in the late 1960s on studio recordings by the Beatles, the Bee Gees, the Moody Blues, King Crimson, and others. By 1975, when Sparrow Dragon Again was recorded, the Mellotron had become something of a relic, superseded by a dazzling array of electronic instruments which were revolutionizing the musical landscape. On this album, the Mellotron is not used as a novelty, nor is it used for psychedelic effect. It blends in tastefully with the arrangements.
Sparrow's voice is in top form on these spectacular performances. This album was one of Sparrow's last before the soca craze took over and, sadly, made classic calypso passé. Sparrow changed with the times—and with great commercial success.
released December 15, 2019
Erasmus Black Records
Issued under exclusive license from Slinger Francisco (The Mighty Sparrow)
"Let Me Try Again" by Paul Anka-Sammy Colin
"Sad Sweet Dreamer" by Des Patron
"If" by David Gates
"My Way" by Francois-Thibault-Revau-Anka
"The Hustle" by David Weiss-Hugo & Luigi
"And I Love Her So" by Don McLean
"Again" by Cochran-Newman
He's not the Elvis of Calypso. He's not the Sinatra of Calypso. He's not the Beatles, Dylan, James Brown, or Brian Wilson of
Calypso. He's the MIGHTY SPARROW. Often categorized as "World Music," for Sparrow the classification "World" is simply too small. We're working with Slinger Francisco (Sparrow) to preserve his recorded legacy. All releases digitally restored from best available sources....more