Harry Belafonte

Belafonte Sings of Love

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It was 1968. Assassinations, riots, invasions of foreign countries...and what did Harry Belafonte decide to record during this year of civil upheavals and the threat of world conflagration? Love songs. Not love songs in the spirit of spacy Donovan-inspired flower power, but sappy, middle-of-the-road love songs. On this album, Belafonte, the formerly adventurous "King of Calypso," champion of folk music styles from around the world, dove head first into the world of smarmy lounge balladeers. Now, it's not that he was singing classic love songs like "The Twelfth of Never" and just couldn't pull them off. Only one song on this torturously boring album will ever be remembered: Jimmy Webb's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix." The only other familiar melody is the Brazilian love song "Manha De Carnaval," which for some reason, Belafonte sang in English, rendering this exquisite work inert. An omen of foreboding: liner notes now disappeared for good on Belafonte's albums, probably since the songs had neither a history nor a tradition. All that was left was a lame quote from Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet: "Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself..." This record fulfills no one.