Versions of the Song

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Next we have the three known recordings of “Rum and Coca-Cola” by Lord Invader:

Port of Spain - 1950                                                     The third one is not ready yet.

no notes yet

Next we present the five versions of the song which were recorded in the U.S. in late 1944 and early 1945 without Invader’s knowledge or permission. (Note: in addition to these five versions I have also seen mention of “Rum and Coca-Cola” being recorded in 1945 by Al Trace on the National label and “Porky” Freeman on the ARA label. See BILLBOARD magazine April 28, 1945, p.23.)

Finally, a sampling of “R&CC” videos found on the web. There are thirty-three of them so please scroll down.

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Jeri Sullavan - 1945


Jeri Sullavan made this "soundie" in early 1945, right around the time she was in Hollywood being screen tested by Warner Bros. It was a test she apparently did not pass. She would remain a lounge singer for the rest of her life.  She seems a little stiff in this clip. (See also, “Jeri Sullavan and the V-Disc” on this site.)


(A "soundie" was a 16mm. film loop which was rear-projected in an elaborate early version of a video juke box.)

This is the version recorded by the Andrews Sisters on October 18, 1944. Note that Morey Amsterdam alone is credited.  I will explain why in a later chapter.

The Monroe version made the top ten Billboard chart on March 3, 1945. It featured vocals by the Norton Sisters and Rosemary Calvin.

The Lyman version, with vocals by Rose Blane, probably has the most bang for the buck. It has six verses, including some of the racier ones. It spent four weeks on the Billboard top ten chart in March, 1945.

A reader from Berkeley, California pointed out that the site did not contain a transcription of Lord Invader’s original version of “Rum and Coca-Cola”.  So here it is, below on the left. The text is scanned directly from the page of the famous booklet, “Victory Calypsoes - 1943”.  It is as close as we can come to the version of the song as performed by Invader in Trinidad in 1943.


On the right is the Andrews Sisters’ version which was recorded in New York City on October 18, 1944. It presumably matches the version which Morey Amsterdam copyrighted on September 27, 1944, although I am not sure of that.  (At the “Khan vs. Feist” trial only the first verse and chorus were transcribed.) I have not seen Amsterdam’s actual copyright submission. The spelling, or misspelling, of the place names is taken from the sheet music as published by Feist in late 1944.  (Mona’s = Monos; Koo-Mah-Nah = Cumana; Chica-chi-carry = Chacachacare; Manzinella = Manzanilla)


Also, “Der Bingle” is another name for Bing Crosby.

The Andrews Sisters version - October 18, 1944

If you ever go down Trinidad
They make you feel so very glad
Calypso sing and make up rhyme
Guarantee you one real good fine time

Drinkin' rum and Coca-Cola
Go down Point Koo-mah-nah
Both mother and daughter
Workin' for the Yankee dollar

(Oh, beat it man, beat it)

Since the Yankee come to Trinidad
They got the young girls all goin' mad
Young girls say they treat 'em nice
Make Trinidad like paradise

(Oh, you vex me, you vex me)

From Chica-chi-carry to Mona's Isle
Native girls all dance and smile
Help soldier celebrate his leave
Make every day like New Year's Eve

(It's a fact, man, it's a fact)

In old Trinidad, I also fear
The situation is mighty queer
Like the Yankee girl, the native swoon
When she hear Der Bingle croon

Out on Manzinella Beach
G.I. romance with native peach
All night long, make tropic love
Next day, sit in hot sun and cool off

(It's a fact, man, it's a fact)

Chubby Checker - 1962


Chubby Checker recorded "Rum and Coca-Cola" for his 1963 album, "Let's Limbo Some More" which also contained another calypso classic, "Mama, Look a Boo-Boo" by Lord Melody.


The version playing above may be slightly different than the one on the album. The audio and video were obviously recorded separately.

Gigliola Cinquetti and Joe Dassin - c. 1973


These two performers were very big in Europe in the early 70’s when they collaborated on a medley of Andrews Sisters’ hits. This clip appears to be from a TV performance, probably in Italy - una bellisima versione della cancione!


I have also seen on the web a clip of Signorina Cinquetti doing a solo version of the song while twirling a hula hoop!

The Busters - 1997


Ok, this is a different song, but it shows the extent to which the term, “Rum and Coca Cola” is recognized all over the world as a shorthand description of tropical pleasures.


This clip features some very nice horn work from this German ska band at the E-Werk concert in Cologne.


When I’m depressed I listen to this version. Snaps me right out of it.

Trinidad Rio - 1998


Trinidad Rio is a second tier, but well-respected, calypsonian. The best information I have is that this audio only clip is from an album called “Past, Present, and Future”.


The above copyrighted photo was taken by me in Port of
Spain in February, 1980

The Satin Dollz - c. 2006


Although they are only the size of paper clips in this window, these long-legged, scantily-clad young ladies create quite an impression.


The Satin Dollz is a California group and this appears to be a live performance, not a lip sync.


Arielle Dombasle - 2004


Trinidadians of Lord Invader’s generation loved the Hollywood film noir of the 1940’s so it’s a safe bet that the man who wrote “Rum and Coca-Cola” would approve of this video clip.


Arielle Dombasle was born in Connecticut in 1958 of French parentage and raised in Mexico.


M.A. Numminen - 2004


“Rum and Coca-Cola” in Finnish! with a lazy reggae beat by the avant garde recording artist Mauri Antero Numminen. (Audio only)

The circumstances surrounding the January, 1945 recording (on Decca!) by Wilmoth Houdini were filled with enough intrigue to support a website of its own - if we only knew the details.


Houdini must have known that he was stealing from Lord Invader, not just copycatting the Andrews Sisters. This six-minute rendition is probably a combination of both sides of the disc.

The Louis Prima version, with Lily Ann Carol on vocals, was the only “big band” version not to make it to the charts. The “official” Prima discography gives the date of this recording as June 1944, but this is clearly inaccurate. It is probably January, 1945 or very late 1944.


Note that this version was the only one which restored Invader’s original lyric, “And they give (pay) them a better price.”

Laurel Campbell - 2010?


This one def wins the prize in the “high altitude” category. I am told that Laurel (or “Lori”) Campbell is a British folk singer. Check her out at: http://www.myspace.com/laurelcampbell

Sestry Allanovy - 1946


Audio only. Just when I thought I had heard everything, this comes along on YouTube. “Sestry Allanovy” translates as “Allan Sisters”. They were a Czech vocal group of the 1940’s. Real names: Jiřina Salačová, Máša Horová, Věra Kočvarová. Unlike the Andrews Sisters they were not blood relatives.


Their version was officially titled, “Na Ostrově Trinidadu” (“On The Island of Trinidad”). I can’t actually hear the words “Coca-Cola”. Perhaps this was in anticipation of the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia in February, 1948.  I doubt that the airwaves of Prague would have made much mention of Yankee soldiers or the American soft drink after that.

Peter Ricardo - 1957


Peter Ricardo (1917-2008), I’m told, was a Grenadian who released the album, “HI-FI CALYPSO” in London during the Calypso boom of 1957. He is the only one, aside from Abe Lyman, to have recorded the racy “grass skirt” verse and the “Trinidad dad” verse. For more on Peter Ricardo - click here.

Golden Earring - 1966

(Audio only)

After officially avoiding the song for two decades, the Coca-Cola Company commissioned this singing commercial by the Dutch rock band Golden Earring in 1966. It was released on a 45 rpm record which was reportedly available only in grocery stores. On the flip side was the Coca-Cola jingle, "Things Go Better With Coca-Cola". (Must be something about the Dutch. When Lord Invader visited Holland in 1958 he recorded a singing commercial for Heineken beer.)


Note: After 1966 the band “Golden Earrings” shortened its name and dropped the “S”.

Alys Robi - 1945?


(Audio only - in French.) Alys Robi was born Alice Robitaille in Québec City in 1923. I am guessing that this version dates from 1945. She was active during the mid-40's and had a radio show called "Latin American Serenade"


Mlle. Robitaille has a fascinating, tragic life story which is well worth seeking out.

Mary Lo - 1948 - audio  only (in Greek)


According to what I have seen on the web, Mary Lo (Greek: Μαίρη Λω) was born Maria Doukaki in Palaio Faliro, a suburb of Athens, in 1932. She first recorded in 1947 and her music career lasted until 1965. She was married to songwriter Nicky Yakovlev who wrote many of her songs.


This version has a bouncy big band beat and the matching video has some nice street scenes of Athens in the 40’s.

Remix by Tim Tim - 2009


This is a wild one. The soundtrack is apparently a remix of the Andrews Sisters’ version by the reggae fusion group Tim Tim. The visual is a “32 count, four wall” line dance choreographed by Ria Vos and led by Vivian Tu.


To see the original video, which is longer, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPM7aJwGjHU&feature=related

Prince Buster - 1967


Click here if you want to hear the song ruined by a lugubrious Rocksteady beat. (Audio only)


Prince Buster was born Cecil Bustamante Campbell in Jamaica in 1938. He is an important figure in the development of Reggae.


He released this version of "Rum and Coca-Cola" on the Bluebeat label which was a division of Melodisc.

Calypso Rose - 2011

If Lord Invader could go online,

He'd say, "My song is doing fine!

Let them sing it - I don’t care -

Even that fat lady with short hair!”


Drinkin' rum and Coca-Cola . . .

Stratovani Orchestra - 2008


Another “when you’re feeling blue” version by the Belgian orchestra, Stratovani. From a live performance at the Vorst Nationaal, a concert hall in Brussels.


If you have earphones, put them on.

My favorite thing about Wanda Jackson is that she dated Elvis Presley.


Luckily for us, Elvis is not known to have recorded "Rum and Coca-Cola" or any other calypso tunes. He would have been lost in a land of irony and double entendre.

Wanda Jackson - 2011

               Perez Prado and The Jays  - 1957


This was the “mambo” version of the song.


In 1957 bandleaders from south of the border (in this case Cuba) were scrambling to add anything with the word “calypso” in it to their play lists. The song was also recorded by Xavier Cugat and his orchestra.



Margot Friedlander - c. 1946


Margot Friedlander (1921-   ) is a Holocaust survivor whose life story has been documented on film. As far as I know she is still alive and living in Berlin.


Apparently the concentration camp experience did not dampen her spirits. Just after the war she teamed with German bandleader Kurt Widmann to produce this English language version on Odeon Records which was aimed at the huge market created by U.S. occupying forces.


Does that sound familiar? “U.S. occupying forces”?  She was singing the same tune as Lord Invader in more ways than one.

From the beaches of Trinidad to a marble staircase somewhere in Belgium!


Lisa Del Bo (born 1961) is a Belgian singer who sings mostly in the Flemish language, I am told.

Lisa Del Bo - 2012

As Kobo Town founder Drew Gonsalves says -

“If I had the choice,  I would choose

To live back when calypso brought de news!”


Couldn’t agree more. Please check out this group at www.kobotown.com

Kobo Town - 2012

Grupo Zinica - 2012

A charming rendition of the song from the Miskito Coast of Nicaragua - with the word “Trinidad” replaced by “Bluefields Town”.


This music reminds me of the “banjo and squash” music of St. Croix known as Quelbe. I could listen to it all day.


I’m guessing that this is from 1945 for the following reason: when the song was at the peak of its popularity, it was not allowed to be played on the radio because of the mention of a commercial product  so Decca (I think) came up with an alternate version called “Rum and Limonada”. It also has watered-down lyrics.


Edmundo Ros, born in Trinidad in 1910 to a Scottish father and a Carib Indian mother, is generally credited with popularizing Latin music in Great Britain in the 1940’s. He was associated with several wildly successful nightclubs including the Coconut Grove and The Bagatelle.


It was at the Bagatelle that he scored a historic triumph. One night, as his baton marked the beat, a royal visitor, Princess Elizabeth, (soon to be Queen) was coaxed from her seat by the Latin rhythm and danced in public for the first time.

Edmundo Ros - c. 1945

In 2000 Mr. Ros was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).  He died in Spain in 2011 at the age of 100.

Harmony Cats - c. 1980


The Harmony Cats was a quintet founded in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1976  which specialized in covering American disco hits. They slimmed down to a trio in 1980 with Maria Amélia Costa Manso, Vivian Costa Manso, and Silvia Marino. The group disbanded in 1986 and I am guessing that this version dates from the early 80’s. Not sure.


(audio only - in Portuguese)

“Plikat” - 2013

“Plikat” in Finnish translates as “girls” in English so I’m not exactly sure who these ladies are. It was apparently part of a student concert at the University of Turku in Finland.

Here is another example of the (should be) public domain melody and the call-and-response type structure used by Lord Invader in “Rum and Coca-Cola.”


“Meet de Boys on de Battlefront” is a Mardi Gras standard most closely identified with the Neville Brothers, singing here as the Wild Tchoupitoulas. I think the footage is from a documentary film called “Always for Pleasure”.


I wonder if the filmmakers paid royalties for the use of the melody?

“Meet de Boys on de Battlefront” -

The Wild Tchoupitoulas - 1976

Barry White - 1980


With a voice that “gave men courage and women chills” (according to EBONY magazine) Barry White (1944-2003) sold over a hundred million records in a career that was cut short by hypertension.


He released this version of “Rum and Coca-Cola” in 1980 on an album entitled “Sheet Music”.  He actually does a nice job of styling the song to give it an island feel.

“King Ja Ja” - early 1970’s

One of the fascinating subplots of the “Rum and Coca-Cola” saga involves the similarity between Lord Invader’s famous song and the 19th century Barbadian folksong, “King Ja-Ja”, which was very popular in Trinidad. They both have the same verse melody. Have a listen. This toe-tapping version of “King Ja-Ja” is by the Bajan choral group,  “Sing Out Barbados”.

The Barberettes - 2013

This is the Seoul music version of the song.


I usually don’t bother with Andrews Sisters’ imitations but this one has a special charm.


Check out the Barberettes at: https://www.facebook.com/TheBarberettesKorea

Le Chat Mort - 2013

You have to love this Swedish group with a French name singing in English about a far off tropic isle.

Mr. Chivo - 1990’s?


This is an example of the “lost in translation” version by the Cumbia artist Mr. Chivo.  I have also heard Julio Iglesias butcher the song in his native tongue.


It starts out, “Drinking rum and Coca-Cola/Mom and Dad say ‘Ay’/Don’t fall in love/and you’ll have a lot of fun” (or something to that effect).