Harry Belafonte

Sings 24 Calypso & Folk Songs

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This Portuguese Harry Belafonte compilation concentrates primarily on the lighter side of the singer's recordings for RCA Victor in the 1950s and '60s. Although most of his hits were in the calypso style, few of them are included (no "Banana Boat Song (Day-O)" or "Jamaica Farewell"), but the two sides of the minor U.S. chart single "Hold ‘Em Joe" b/w "I'm Just a Country Boy" open and close the album. In between, there are such familiar Belafonte tracks as "Scarlet Ribbons (For Her Hair)," "Man Smart (Woman Smarter)," and "Matilda." Many of the songs derive from the Weavers' songbook, as the frequent songwriting credit to "Paul Campbell" (a pseudonym for the Weavers) attests. Belafonte was a consistently engaging performer, mixing heartfelt ballads with amusing novelty numbers sung in dialect, and a random selection of any 24 of his recordings would make for a good album. That is quite nearly what this is, and while no one should buy it expecting to hear Belafonte's greatest hits, it works just fine on its own terms.

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