All you need to record a Calypso album is a bottle of rum and a hot chick. Right?
The last thing you think of when the name "Robert Mitchum" comes to mind is Calypso music. That along with puppies, rainbows and soft fluffy clouds. This big lug of a man didn't seem quite suited to the fun and lively rhythms of the Calypso beat. Yet in 1957, Capitol Records gave the world Robert Mitchum's album "Calypso is Like So...".
In 1956, Mitchum had taken a much needed vacation in Trinidad and Tobago. As an actor, Mitchum was a workhorse, doing film after film after film and he rejected the Hollywood lifestyle. So his work could get to him sometimes and he really needed the type of escape that only the Caribbean could provide. After his jaunt, he returned to the States and was so excited about all the Calypso music he had heard while away that he hit up singer-songwriter Johnny Mercer with the idea of doing a Calypso album. Mercer had referred him to Capitol Records.
You may be asking yourself why a big-wig like Capitol Records would agree to a Mitchum Calypso album? They were already salivating over the idea of a Mitchum music album to capitalize on his stardom. Also, another actor, Harry Belafonte, had done a Calypso album that was a hit on the airwaves. Big name star. Popular type of music. Ka-ching Ka-ching.
In March of 1957, Mitchum hit the studio to record the album. Capitol Records got a motley crew of songwriters, back-up singers and musicians to help Mitchum create "Calypso is Like So...". While Mitchum did a good job capturing the stereotypical Caribbean accent (whatever that is) and singing the Calypso songs with a lively air, the album flopped. No worries though. Mitchum was at the top of his game as an actor in Hollywood and a little Calypso album wasn't going to impede that.
Stay tuned because my next post will include music from Mitchum's foray into Calypso.
retold from an excerpt of Lee Server's biography Robert Mitchum: Baby I Don't Care
Extra note: The lady on the cover of Mitchum's album was intended to look vaguely Caribbean (dark) but still be accepted to a Caucasian audience (not too dark).