Friday, 18 December 2015
Retour a Haiti: Gérald Merceron + Le Groupe Haïti 2000 - Bokassa Grotraka (Bokassa Veut Manger Chisskar) [1981?]
What a fabulous cover photo, with Gerald on the "petit moto."
This is the fourth instalment in Gerald's Haitian musical expedition (it's clearly marked as such on the cover), the others being his "Modern Jazz Compositions" (still to come, presumably from the early 70s), "L' energie mysterieuse," & "Tet san Ko" (both appeared before in these pages, of course). With respect to the artists, with the familiar names of Lionel Benjamin, Herbie and Mushi and Joel Widmaier, this appears to be slacking slightly in inspiration compared especially to the 1978 'soundtrack' album which was so full of life soul and indeed energy. And to this day I feel the best record overall is Mushi's 1982 Lakansyel where everything came together so perfectly.
The notes from the back, in addition to explaining the curiously odd title of the record, are so almost lysergically entertaining as to be impossible to resist translating and roughly transcribing here following. They were wholly written by Gerald himself.
"I see you coming with your big shoes. You will not hesitate to claim that the person here aimed at is the famed Bokassa, ex-emperor of Central Africa. [Ed.- for sheer interest, read his jaw-dropping biography on wiki, which minimizes the cannibalistic aspects being referred to.] Furthermore, some clever minds will swear, after listening to my song, that we are dealing with Giscard, not Chisskar, as the record sleeve so courageously proclaims. Well, you are badly mistaken there! I would never dare to attack his majesty Bokassa, saint man that even the Vatican has seriously considered canonizing, and even less so, an ex-president of the French Republic for whom I have the utmost respect. The truth quite clear, here it is!
The word Bokassa -- it's easy to verify -- means, in Spanish, "big mouth". As for Grotraka, it's an honest Japanese patronym that doesn't mean anything at all and definitely not "in big shit" [Gros tracas in French, presumably the haitian creole meaning -Ed.] despite appearances and despite all that which those same clever minds will perfidiously claim. All of this is not obvious, but nonetheless, I beg you to believe it. On the beard of Ayatollah Khomeini, light of our times, I swear that our Bokassa Grotraka is a Japanese student, of Spanish origin, who, in 1981, in Paris, savagely assassinated and greedily devoured 12 young Swedish coeds, all affiliated with the Party of Christian Masochists of Santiago in Chili, except the final girl, who moreover suffered from a peculiar anatomical problem once called virginity, actually described by Swedish scientists as a very rare congenital malformation, the reason for which the poor girl was eaten last, for dessert. These acts of cannibalism, seemingly barbaric, were actually honestly motivated by political reasons. Bokassa Grotraka wanted to protest (some months late) the exasperating neutrality of the Swedes against the awful affair of the persistent occupation of Afghanistan by a group of Indians from Arizona. Left unpunished, via the intervention of his father, a diamond seller in Tokyo, the Japanese student then captured a respectable German businessman, Herr Chisskar, whose destiny seemed thence unavoidably and sadly sealed. However Herr Chisskar, with his amazing teutonic energy, reinforced by a complete ignorance of the gastronomical tendencies of his attacker, refused to let himself be eaten... despite the diamonds magnanimously offered by the Japanese... Now if you want to know the ending, please buy this record... but hurry: word on the street is, it will soon be banned...
Some information on this music: "Sharp shooter" is a satirical song by Antoine Radule that was aimed at Paul Eugene Magloire... "Raison de vivre" is a melody from Eumir Deodato, with French lyrics by Gerald, and an arrangement by Frantz Courtois who is also the guitar soloist. All the other compositions are from Gerald Merceron. He uses in the final part of the work a Haitian folk song called the "Atibonit-o" which was restructured harmonically. The words for "Ma Nounoune" are by Antonio Rival. "J'em Tonbe" and "Separation" are based on poems by Rudolph Muller. All other words are from Gerald Merceron, who thanks all his helpers.
Pretty amazing blurb, right? Awesome tongue in cheek writing. You can't help but wonder if there was some psychoactive ingredient there.
The song in question, "Bokassa Grotraka:"
(Sung by Lionel Benjamin)
Note the lyrics: "Bokassa eats people, but Bokassa can't eat Idi Amin"...