Thursday, April 13, 2006

Tenth Naval District Steel Band - New Paths For Steel Band

This is one of the more unusual "exotica" LPs and I've never seen anyone else do a rip so here it is! This is a new one, just ripped it tonight.

New Paths For Steel Band by the Tenth Naval District Steel Band - San Juan, Puerto Rico. Chief Musician Franz E. Grissom, USN - Leader.

Apparently a US Navy band got the go ahead to record this project for God knows what reason. The back cover suggests that the LP is on Showtime records and was recorded by the West Indies Recording Corp but the record label says "Cook" so your guess is as good as mine. Its basically steel band renditions of a few classics and a few originals. The reason it shows up on the radar of exotica collectors is, I suppose, because of 1) the presence of bird calls and jungle noises and 2) they cover "Quiet Village."

The tracks:

Annie Laurie
Steel Band Safari
Penny Whistle Calypso
La Pachanga
The Enchanted Sea
Walking to Missouri
Theme for Steel Band
Mercin Bon Dieu
Quiet Village
Enoe y Paquita

Dig the liner note description for The Enchanted Sea: "not only enchanting music, but a sea that is so magicked, it sounds more like a tropical jungle. Musicological note; all jungle sounds re-created exclusively by these versatile musicians."

"Magicked?" What the hell? Sounds like a bunch of Crowley acolytes or something. Too weird! No respectable person used the word "magick" back in those days. Not that anyone respectable would use such a word today. Was the Tenth Naval District Steel Band a cover for a covert Naval Intelligence group studying Caribbean occultism to use against the communists?

How about this blurb describing the cover? "On the cover: the band during a happy moment on a trek through El Yunque, the Puerto Rican rain forest." "During a happy moment?" Like just before they all got killed by the first batch of experimental chupacabras? What does it mean!?!? Does McGarrett know about this???


Its an interesting listen. It won't segue seamlessly into most exotica comps since its all steel drums. You're going to have to be a bit creative to make it fit. But I know you can do it. :)

New Paths for Steel Band


Blogger John AKA Reggaexx said...

Hey Kono - thanks for all the music - I'm getting close to filling up the 110 disc player in the Grotto and your blog is definitely gonna help!

Reggaexx AKA Johntiki

9:54 PM  
Blogger BenT said...

Wow! I hadn't heard of this one before, and I'm glad you could include a photo.

It bridges between three different genres of what I call Thrift Store records -Exotica, Steel band Tourist Souvenirs, and Military Band recordings that are sent back to the folks at home.

Quite a Find!

10:39 AM  
Blogger gildas said...


This album is a fine example of the steel band sounds that emerged from the panyards of Trinidad via Admiral Dan Gallery's U.S. Navy Steel Band, The Pandemoniacs. My father, MUCM Franz Grissom was the bandleader, composer, and arranger of the U.S. Navy Steel Band during the band's early years in the late 1950's and early 1960's. The International Assoc. of Pan Enthusiasts is honoring Franz posthumously (he passed away last July) next week at their convention in Akron, Ohio, along with another great steel band pioneer, Bill Smiley. Their legacy is that steel band is all around us now - in our schools and universities, in our commercial music industry, at our Country Fairs, and in movie and TV soundtracks. Harry Belafonte was thrilled when he heard this version of Mercin [sic] Merci Bon Dieu. Movie and show business stars, Presidents, royalty, world leaders and thousands of ordinary people were captivated by this music. You will be too.

11:28 PM  
Blogger Kono said...

Thanks your unique insight gildas!

What led to the creation of the US Navy Steel Band? What was the purpose and why did they record an album? I only ask because I am unfamiliar with any other instances of US military bands recording albums of music representing indigenous cultures. Maybe I'm missing an entire niche of military music (wouldn't surprise me) but it just seems odd to me that a Navy band put out such an album.

It is a great album and your father was very gifted. For the rest of you: I didn't mention it in the post but Chief Grissom wrote tracks 2 ("Steel Band Safari"), 5 ("Penny Whistle Calypso") and 9 ("Theme for Steel Band").

8:27 PM  
Blogger RonM said...

Another version of Quiet Village? Yippeee!

2:18 AM  
Blogger gildas said...


One person responsible for the creation of the U.S. Navy Steel Band was Admiral Daniel V. Gallery:,13506,706764%7C704079,00.html. Once the Admiral heard steel band at the 1957 Carnival in Trinidad, the music "just got inside him and shook him up." The other person credited with the development of the band (and the person whom my father credited the most) was Ellie Mannette, the "father of steel band." It was Mr. Mannette who made the band's drums and taught them to play. After MUCM Roeper left in early 1959 due to illness, Franz took over the band for the next 6 years. In those early days of Pan, there were very few recordings in existence, though some Trinadian bands like Ellie Mannette's Invaders were moving in that direction. The U.S. Navy band began recording albums as a way to expand the reach of steel band music as a whole (most certainly at the behest of Adm. Gallery). San Juan at that time was also an entertainment mecca for musicians and entertainers, and they were delighted with this music. They were often invited to hear the band play at some location in San Juan or on the Naval base.

8:57 PM  
Blogger Kono said...

Thanks for the info gildas. Its great to hear some background story on an album that would otherwise be a mystery.

8:27 PM  
Blogger julioxo said...

Thanks for good post Kono

7:15 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Gilda, it's Dave Jr. ;)

I'm very proud of my uncle's legacy. He and my father ( his younger brother ) were superb drummers and I'll always cherish the memories of their music when I was a kid and beyond..

2:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any chance of uploading this again? It is no longer available via the link provided.

6:38 PM  
Anonymous said...

Wow, there is a lot of worthwhile material above!

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please repost

Thank you!

3:20 PM  
Anonymous said...

Thanks for this article, very effective information.

2:33 AM  
Anonymous Buy cialis said...

Wonderful thanks a lot, I never hear about this guys, but i like old music.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous jim e said...

I was stationed at U S Naval Station San Juan Puerto Rico from 1960 - 1963. My album is autographed by most of the band members, including Chief Grissom. I was in charge of the Officers' Club on the station where they played about every six weeks. The band was formed by Admiral Dan Gallery, Commandant of the 10th Naval District, in 1958 and was known around the fleet as "Admiral Dan's Shit Can Band." Chief Grissom - leading the parade - had started another steel band at a high school. Their excellent music is on YouTube.
/s/ jim e

2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My father served under your father and would like to share photos and stories please. My email is Please indicate naval nabs so I don't delete it. Not hanks

10:06 PM  

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