The Talbot Brothers of Bermuda
The Talbot Brothers were a musical group based in Bermuda that were among the most popular calypso performers of the 1950s. They were brothers Archie (lead singer, acoustic guitar, harmonica), Austin (acoustic guitar, harmonica), Bryan, a.k.a. "Dick" (tipple, a large, 10-stringed ukulele), Ross, a.k.a. "Blackie" (electric guitar) and Roy Talbot (bass), and their cousin Cromwell "Mandy" Mandres (accordion).
The Talbots were the first of Bermuda’s many notable singing groups. They performed a variation of Trinidadian calypso in a smooth melodic style influenced by popular music. They performed and recorded cover versions of calypso classics in addition to many of their own originals.
The Talbots organized in 1942 and became a popular attraction in local hotels. But it was an early recording they made in the United States that made them even more popular in their homeland, and heralded fame beyond their shores. Bermuda Buggy Ride, according to the essay "Gombeys, Bands and Troubadours" on Bermuda’s official website...
...brought them wide recognition in the USA, and made them the group tourists most wanted to see. The song was a swing ballad and was actually written… in a buggy en route to Tom Moore’s Tavern. A young student from Yale was in the buggy, and he seems to have had a hand in the evolution of the song. On arriving at their destination, the musicians rehearsed the song until it was ready for performance that very day. It’s been riding along ever since.
Their popularity with American tourists resulted in tours of the U.S. starting in the early 1950s. Notable in their instrumentation was Roy Talbot’s home-made upright bass dubbed the "doghouse." Roy created the instrument out of a large meat-packing crate and a single fishing line. This item was a particular curiosity, and during the Talbots’ tours many of their fellow performers and visiting celebrities would autograph the crate.
The Talbots released 10" and 12" vinyl records on the small Audio Fidelity label in the mid-1950s before being signed to ABC Paramount Records in 1957, where they made two LPs that were more accessible in North America.
Bassist Roy Talbot, who died on May 15, 2009, was the last surviving brother.
Notable songs recorded by The Talbot Brothers include:
- "Atomic Nightmare" (Archie Talbot)
- "Back to Back (Zombie Jamboree)" (Lord Intruder)
- "Bermuda Buggy Ride" (Archie Talbot)
- "Bermuda Affair" (Archie Talbot)
- "Bermuda’s Still Paradise" (Ross Talbot)
- "Give an Ugly Woman Matrimony" (Ross Talbot - F. Reid)
- "Gonna Cut You with the Razor" (Archie Talbot - F. Reid)
- "Is She Is or Is She Ain’t" (The Charmer)
- "Last Train to San Fernando" (Mighty Dictator)
- "Nora, Nora" (Lord Kitchener)
- "She's Got Freckles On Her But She Is Nice" (no author listed; sometimes attributed to Larry Vincent)
- "You Can Go, But You’ll Return" (Archie Talbot - F. Reid)
- Bermuda Talbot Brothers in their favorite selections Jay 3009 (10")
- Bermuda Talbot Brothers ("Bermuda, Vol. 2"); Audio Fidelity AFLP-903 (10”)
- Bermuda Calypso Party ("Bermuda, Vol. 3"); Audio Fidelity AFLP-1807; c.1957
- Calypsos; ABC-Paramount ABC-156; 1957
- Calypso; ABC-Paramount A-156; 1957 (7" E.P.; excerpts from above)
- Talbot Brothers of Bermuda; ABC-Paramount ABC-214
- Talbot Brothers of Bermuda (Volumes 1-3); Talman (reissue)
- Bermuda Holiday; Polyphonic Records (Bermuda) FLP-2001
- Vinyl Safari
- Gombeys, Bands and Troubadours at www.gov.bm
- List of ABC-Paramount Records releases at bsnpubs.com
- Ross Blackie Talbot - Charity Invitational Golf Tournament
- Grimes, William. "Roy Talbot, Calypso Musician, Dies at 94", The New York Times, May 23, 2009. Accessed May 24, 2009.