Harry Belafonte

In My Quiet Room

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Probably the lushest album Harry Belafonte ever made, this record offered further proof to record store owners that HB should be moved from the folk section to easy listening. The liner notes try to label the record as a concept album of ballads, but the only concept we can see is another record to be heard in subdued volume in dentists' offices and elevators. One begins to wonder whether Belafonte, not even 40, had his best years behind him already. Former Weaver Fred Hellerman deserves some of the credit (or blame) for the pallid material; he co-wrote five of the ten songs. At least on his other ballad albums, Belafonte was provided with interesting instrumentation, including harpsichords, guitars, organs, etc. This production reveals no such innovations, with arranger Hugo Montenegro preferring to drown each song in a tidal wave of strings (labeled as "an opulent orchestral sound" in the notes). Noteworthy among the titles are several Belafonte retreads from earlier in his career: "Try to Remember" (from The Fantasticks), "Summertime Love," and a song that was recorded only as a single back in 1954, "I'm Just a Country Boy."