Harry Belafonte

Golden Records [Die Grossen Erfolge]

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It may be that Harry Belafonte's popularity as a recording artist fell so precipitously when he and so many others were shunted aside by the British Invasion that his label, RCA Victor, didn't think there was much hope for a hits collection in the 1964 marketplace. Or it simply may be that, since a brief flurry of hit singles in 1957, he had really been an album artist. In any case, RCA left it to the company's West German division to release Golden Records, the first comprehensive compilation of Belafonte's most popular recordings. All six of his U.S. Top 40 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" -- are included, along with eight other songs from 1953-1961 that were issued as singles ("Matilda, Matilda," "Round the Bay of Mexico," "The Marching Saints," "Come Back Liza") or included on such successful albums as Calypso, Belafonte Sings of the Caribbean, and Jump Up Calypso. The result was an excellent overview of Belafonte's Caribbean folk style, which dominated pop music from the mid-'50s to the early '60s. No comparable collection was issued in the U.S. until 1978, when All Time Greatest Hits, Vol. 1, which contained more chart singles as well as anomalies like "Abraham, Martin and John," appeared.

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