Harry Belafonte Band

Discussion in 'Music Forum' started by cshadows2887, Jun 5, 2016.

  1. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

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    Harold George "Harry" Bellanfanti, Jr. (born March 1, 1927), better known as Harry Belafonte, is an American singer, songwriter, actor, and social activist. One of the most successful Caribbean American pop stars in history, he was dubbed the "King of Calypso" for popularizing the Caribbean musical style with an international audience in the 1950s. His breakthrough album Calypso (1956) is the first million selling album by a single artist. Belafonte is perhaps best known for singing "The Banana Boat Song", with its signature lyric "Day-O". He has recorded in many genres, including blues, folk, gospel, show tunes, and American standards. He has also starred in several films, most notably in Otto Preminger's hit musical Carmen Jones (1954), Island in the Sun (1957) and Robert Wise's Odds Against Tomorrow (1959).
     
  2. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    Harry Belafonte
    Harry was many things: activist, actor, but most of all, he was a musician. He was one of the most vocal and crucial advocates of folk music, making use of the archives of the Library of Congress to build a repertoire of music from around the world. He single-handedly introduced calypso music to the American public, making Calypso the first album to ever sell a million copies in its first year and his Belafonte at Carnegie Hall was the first commercial and artistically successful live album outside of comedy. If you only know him from his beef with Jay-Z or Beetle Juice, I envy your discovery.

    Recommended Listen:
    Calypso

    Crash Course:
    1. Calypso
    2. Belafonte at Carnegie Hall
    3. Sings the Blues

    Compilation Replacement:
    The Essential Harry Belafonte

    Signature Songs:
    1. "The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)"
    2. "Jamaica Farewell"
    3. "Jump in the Line"
    4. "Midnight Special"
    5. "Shenandoah"

    Personal Note:
    I went with Calypso because it's his biggest and has the song everyone knows best, but Carnegie may actually be the most complete picture of everything he did so well. Because he was so interested in various musical traditions, there are so many options I could have gone with for the third. My Lord What a Mornin' is probably the best of the rest, collecting Negro spirituals performed with so much passion and soul. Jump Up Calypso is killer but mines the calypso genre further. Swing Dat Hammer is a fantastic collection of chain gang work songs. Many Moods of Harry Belafonte is a great pop collection. An Evening with is a great mixture of folk styles. There are just untold riches in his catalog right up to his collaborations with international artists like Miriam Makeba and Nana Mouskouri or his final album, the protest record Paradise in Gazankulu.
     
  3. George

    Trusted Prestigious

    Brill! I only know Calypso, which is wonderful, so I'm excited to hear some more this week! He's been on my radar to properly explore for a while now, so I'm looking forward to this a lot.
     
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  5. iCarly Rae Jepsen

    no tears left to cry Prestigious

    not sure if I've ever heard anything outside of Jump In The Line or Day-O, guess I primarily think of him as an activist
     
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  6. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    If you want to hear more like that one, Jump Up Calypso is in the same vein and Sings of the Caribbean is tangent. But he has lots of avenues to explore.

    I don't think you're alone in that, but he was incredibly important as a musician.
     
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  7. George Jun 5, 2016
    (Last edited: Jun 5, 2016)
    George

    Trusted Prestigious

    So unsurprisingly, Live at Carnegie Hall is absolutely wonderful. He manages to create such a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere, while spanning and mastering a bunch of genres, styles and even languages! It's humorous and jolly at times, like on Mama Look a Boo Boo or Man Smart (Woman Smarter), and then really poignant and tender in others, such as Danny Boy or Jamaica Farewell. He sings in English, Spanish and Hebrew(?) on the album, which is a remarkable achievement to do it so seamlessly and confidently.

    The performance spans multiple genres, and from reading up on it on Wiki, I see that it's divided into three parts; "Moods of the American Negro", "In The Caribbean" and "Around The World". It's hard to choose, but I'd say the delicate and reserved last section was my favourite. It's a long album, a fair bit over an hour, but it just breezed by, I think in part because of the variety of songs and performances.

    It all builds up to a head with the brilliantly funny and charming closing track Matilda, which is just a bloody lovely way to finish a concert.

    I loved this heaps.
     
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  8. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    Damn you work fast. You're the best. Haha
     
  9. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    @George Just dawned on me to ask: the version you found of Carnegie, did it have all the banter and all 19 songs? I know the CD releases have all been gutted/butchered, but the Spotify version seems to be complete. I hope you got the whole thing. It deserves to be heard in its original glory.
     
  10. George

    Trusted Prestigious

    Damn, no I didn't hear that version. The one I heard was a few tracks shorter and apart from a bit before Jamaica Farwell and all of Matilda, there wasn't really any audience interaction. Sounds like I missed out though, that's a shame. I'll try and upgrade the version I have.
     
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  11. George

    Trusted Prestigious

    Sings The Blues is gorgeous. Totally different vibe to what I've heard from him before, shows his range and ability. It's a really smoky and sultry album, with some fantastic song selection, performing Ray Charles and Billie Holiday songs effortlessly. The arrangements are understated, but absolutely perfectly done, with the hints of Spanish guitar on "In The Evening Mama", or the hypnotic little bass on "Hallelujah, I Love Her So".

    His voice is magical as always, and it's a really engaging listen, and shows off another facet of his talent.
     
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  12. angrycandy

    I will always be nicer to the cat than I am to you Prestigious

    Sub
     
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  13. ChiliTacos

    eh eh x c x Prestigious

    This is the first time that I actually haven't heard of the artist! Excited to give a couple of these a spin this week.
     
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  14. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    Safe bet you will know "The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)" when you put it on, but excited to hear what you think.

    It's funny, because I have the original on vinyl, that chopped down CD version is always so upsetting to me. But you loved it (as I probably would, too) so it can only get better!

    This is one of the biggest draws about him to me. That you can put on a record like Calypso and have it be 100% different from Sings the Blues, which is a totally different sound from Swing Dat Hammer. Etc.
     
  15. TheWater(s)

    Kiss The Sky Prestigious

    Pissed off that I'm listening to this and don't have a margarita/am not sitting under an umbrella.
     
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  16. George Jun 6, 2016
    (Last edited: Jun 6, 2016)
    George

    Trusted Prestigious

    Listened to his second album, Belafonte from 1956. This was apparently the first ever number one album on the Billboard charts, lasting for six weeks before being knocked off by Elvis' debut. It shows off his range, he's doing the blues-y sort of stuff I'd hear on Sings The Blues, and doing the calypso, traditional Jamaican stuff I'd hear on Calypso. I don't think it's as good as either of those two, as it's a bit of a hodge-podge of an album, as was common at the time.

    There are some wonderful highs though. Particularly Matilda, which starts with the best bit of whistling in a song until Otis Redding a decade later. I'd heard the extended version on the live album, but condensed into three minutes it's an absolute joy, takes me away to a tropical paradise. According to what i found online, a few of these songs were originally chain gang songs, and old Negro Spiritual music, so there's a real power and emotion to them, my favourite of which was probably "Take My Mother Home"

    It is a bit of a hard transition, going from the upbeat, lovely calypso stuff, to the bleak blues stuff, and for that reason I don't think it works particularly well as an album, but it is jam-packed full of great songs.
     
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  17. George

    Trusted Prestigious

    Listened to My Lord, What A Morning. It's an entirely A Capella album, made up primarily of spiritual songs. Belaftone has a choir backing him to add a little depth and layers to the songs. It's a very haunting album, maybe I've watched too many horror movies, but there's definitely something a little unnerving about this sort of music. It's mostly very slow and melancholic, which adds to that vibe.

    My favourites were probably the ones with the most vocals in, Ezekial in particular plays around with multiple vocals at the same time, which is quite nice. I definitely preferred the more upbeat and joyous ones like "Oh Freedom". I can also appreciate Belafonte documenting and recording these old songs, preserving the history behind them. It's not something I think I'll return to often, but there were definitely a few stand out songs.

    It's also good to listen to something pretty different once in a while. I don't listen to much spiritual / gospel music really, and especially not any without any instruments, so it's definitely an interesting listen.
     
  18. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    Man, I definitely did not fully realize how fantastic Swing Dat Hammer is. Goosebumps for days.
     
  19. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    Listened to Ballads, Blues and Boasters for the first time in awhile and it's not rated as one of his best, but it's a total sleeper. It mines a bit more of that blues territory that he could sing the shit out of. "Black Betty" is probably my favorite on it, but the material is excellent.
     
  20. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    First new listen this week is to By Request. I know the critics hate his 70s, stuff. And it definitely was more deliberately mainstream. If you have a problem with lush production, you might balk at it. But it never feels too over the top for me, and he's an incredible singer delivering a lot of excellent 60s standards. Hard not to love.
     
  21. ChiliTacos

    eh eh x c x Prestigious

    Better late than never, I listened to Calypso this morning. Fun little album! It doesn't really seem groundbreaking to me in any way, but I don't think it needs to be. I had just finished a walk in this ungodly heat we have here, and to sit here in my air conditioned house and listen to this was really nice.
     
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  22. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    Ironically enough, it was hugely important