Harry Belafonte

Calypso Carnival

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Like a breath of fresh air, Harry Belafonte emerged from the stagnant doldrums of The Warm Touch album with this exciting, welcomed return to the music that brought him fame in the 1950s. This was Belafonte's fourth calypso album, neatly spaced five years apart and the first since the disappointing Calypso in Brass in 1966. This time there were ten brand new songs, with the central theme being the festive Carnival season in Trinidad. "Don't Stop the Carnival" and "Out de Fire" soon became popular additions to his live act. The arrangements were handled by Frankie Francis, Ralph MacDonald, and William Eaton. (MacDonald had now taken over as the director of Belafonte's concert ensemble; he had been with Belafonte as a percussionist since the early '60s.) On the album, Belafonte fused the traditional calypso sound of steel drums with contemporary salsa, soca, and Brazilian styles, highlighted by the presence of the pixieish Sivuca, a Santa Claus lookalike from Brazil who had a unique talent for scat singing along with his own accordion. Sivuca would join Belafonte on tour in the early '70s and became a crowd favorite. This album proved once again that the music of the West Indies was still Belafonte's strong suit.