Curiously, given the title of this repackaging of three European Harry Belafonte CDs, none of them is precisely an "original" release. And, in fact, they cover material from four, not three LPs, plus a couple of other stray tracks. But such qualifications are only to suggest that 3 Originals actually contains more music than you might expect. At a total running time of nearly three hours, the boxed set includes: a 1993 CD called Golden Records, Vol. 1, which is a reissue of the 14-track 1964 German LP compilation Golden Records (containing identical tracks, but in a different sequence) that gathers together Belafonte's biggest singles hits ("Jamaica Farewell," "Mary's Boy Child," "Banana Boat [Day-O]," "Mama Look a Boo-Boo [Shut Your Mouth ' Go Away]," "Cocoanut Woman," and "Island in the Sun") along with other favorites; a 1995 CD reissue of Belafonte's 1960 album My Lord What a Mornin', subtitled "Belafonte Sings Spirituals," which contains the original LP's 11 tracks plus five bonus tracks drawn from other LPs from the artist; and the 1995 CD 2Gether on 1, a two-fer containing his 1961 calypso album Jump Up Calypso and his 1962 folk album The Midnight Special. That adds up to 51 tracks, but four recordings are repeated either on the hits compilation or among the bonus tracks. Still, that leaves 47 different performances, ranging from familiar calypso hits like "Banana Boat (Day-O)" to a cappella spirituals and the singer's reworked versions of folk standards like "Michael Row the Boat Ashore." He recorded much more than that, of course, but 3 Originals succeeds in presenting a big chunk of his best work, and upon release it was available at modest prices in U.S. mail order catalogs.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann