The Best Songs of Harry Belafonte – Variety

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Over seventy years in a rich musical career initially defined by the moving sounds of calypso, Harry Belafonte — actor, activist, producer and vocalist Died of congestive heart failure on Tuesday At 96 years old – it was much more. The brash show tunes of Broadway, the refinement of folk and blues and the simmering songs of jazz, R&B and Tin Pan Alley standards were the playgrounds of this lyrical baritone.

Yet there was much more to Belafonte’s music than his signature hits. “Banana Boat Song (Day-O),” “Come Back Liza”, “Man Smart (Woman Smarter)” and his 1956 blockbuster album, “CalypsoHere are some of the best of Belafonte’s career.

“Adam Piaba” (1954)
His debut album with RCA, “Mark Twain and Other Folk Favorites,” was filled with live versions of traditional folk songs, while it was an original album co-written with film and television producer Jack K. Rollins, who first directed the Belafonte talent. to great success – where the singer left his mark. Timing his words three times faster than Jay-Z and writing intergalactic lyrics linking him to Albert Einstein, relativity and the Hayden planetarium made Belafonte a smart, comical force to be reckoned with.

“Trouble” (1956)
Belafonte began his career in the cocktail lounges of New York City, and in this original composition he traverses an unconventional atmospheric tale of honky-tonk, jazzy blues and a lounge habit, grief and anxiety that would sound wonderful to Sinatra’s. “Sings Only for the Lonely.”

“Noah” (1956)
Belafonte and author/essayist William Attaway transformed from a dramatic rote to a gospel doo-wop paean. It will rain.”

“A Fool For You” (1958)
Belafonte captured the various tones of Ray Charles in 1958’s “Belafonte Sings the Blues.” However, no blue mood can be quieter, more relaxed, and memorable than as Charles slowly cooks his pain and passion in “A Fool for You.”

“Another Man Is Gone” (1960)
Long before the talk about black incarceration and prison reform, Belafonte recorded an album of chain gang work songs, such as the prison classic that folklorist Alan Lomax penned with Vera Hall, John Lomax, and Ruby Pickens Tartt.

“Midnight Special” (1962)
Belafonte’s Bo Diddley shuffle interpretation of this traditional blues shows the vocalist at his most smug. Also, the recording of this piece is the first officially released recording of harmonica player Bob Dylan.

“This Land Is Your Land” (1963)
By the early 1960s, Belafonte’s commitment to civil rights and social justice was as famous as her singing and stage skills. He gathered all these forces to endure the strong interpretation of Woody Guthrie’s call for activists.

“Summer Love” (1966)
From the rich orchestration of “In My Quiet Room” (arranged by the great Hugo Montenegro), to the Broadway rarity of composer Frank (“Guys & Dolls”), Belafonte uncovers rote folk roots for a sensitive approach to “Summertime Love” . )) Loesser’s “Greenwillow”. Backed by the gentlest acoustic guitars, Belafonte is here at its most imaginative.

“Play Me” (1973)
The title track of his latest studio album for RCA Victor finds Belafonte amidst floral flutes and harps, transporting Neil Diamond’s mournful romance from its creator to a more lively, lively place. However, you can hear Belafonte’s voice growing with age and experience through its heavy gravel.

“A Hole in a Bucket” (1977)
Written by Belafonte in collaboration with folk giant Odetta, this sweet story – back in 1977 – brought the vocalist back to his traditional musical roots after a string of pop records. Along with the album’s self-penned title track (“Turn the World Around”) when “A Hole in the Bucket” was released, both tracks re-established Belafonte’s reputation as a global folk music giant.

“Forever Young / Jabulani” (1981)
Belafonte wholeheartedly repays Dylan for his 1962 harmonica break by performing one of the Minnesota Bard’s most uplifting, thought-provoking songs and adding his own co-written piece (“Jabulani”) to his soca-reggae mix.


Paradise in Gazankulu (1988)
In the title song of his latest official studio album, Belafonte finds him talking about the horrors of South Africa under Apartheid – in an African high-life vibe that meets electropop. For fifty years of his career, he was on the edge musically and socially.

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