Taking a moment to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the exhilarating album Heavy Duty which was released in Q1 1997 by Machel Montano and his then band Xtatik. With both Soca & Dancehall style vibes intertwined, then 22-year-old Machel was ‘in ah gear’ focusing on “the creative stuff”. He presented his song Big Truck, which did the job and won Trinidad & Tobago’s 1997 Road March Competition held during the annual Carnival festival. At this youthful age Machel was able to put together an album with some songs that remain notable, including Big Truck, Pretty Gyal, Music Farm (with Farmer Nappy) and Winer Boi amongst others.
Twenty-Five years later, the influence of the album is still evident as many of the songs can still be heard on the road at Carnival and they are hardly distinguishable from some more recent tunes. Spotify streaming throughout the Caribbean is less than 5 years old arriving nearly 20 years after the release of Big Truck – and it has still managed to garner 400k streams to-date. As recently as August 2022, during the Notting Hill Carnival period, Big Truck peaked at #24 on iTunes (World) in the United Kingdom.
Songs like No Carnival, Music Farm & Pretty Gyal also remain in tune as together they have another nearly 500K in Spotify streams. Pretty Gyal remains a hit in his native Trinidad & Tobago where the song peaked at #16 on iTunes in April 2022 – hard to beat a song that chants “all pretty gyal, all pretty gyal throw your hands in the air!” Music Farm featuring Farmer Nappy with its nursery rhyme melodies of Old McDonald interwoven with Soca and dancehall rhythms peaked at #1 in Barbados in October 2022 and #12 in Japan in November 2022, showing the unwavering strength of the song which has lyrics to last a lifetime: “down in ah Trinidad…down in ah Trinidad we have a Music Farm, ee-i-ee-i-oh”. Even back in 1997, Pat Ganase’s Caribbean Beat article referred to Machel’s work in this way “…saucy lyrics…combines in the calypso with all the playful double entendre of Sparrow, the ageless Calypso master”
Even then his wisdom surpassed his age in numbers, he noted in the article to Ganase, “I think Soca has to cross. I always singing here in Trinidad in this big show and that, but I want to do something putting Calypso on the Charts, contributing to the big picture”. That is exactly what Machel has done.
40 years in the industry, the King of Soca has not missed a beat. Check out some of his classic hits.