Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Best of Harry Belafonte

by Harry Belafonte

This rather misleadingly named two-CD set in fact includes two early Belafonte albums, Calypso (1956) and Belafonte Sings of the Caribbean (1957), in their entirety, plus several bonus tracks, some of which could be better left out. In a way, this compilation continues the tradition of misleading names started by Calypso, which is not a calypso but mento album. To add even more confusion, the CDs themselves are labelled The Best of Harry Belafonte — Calypso — Disc 1 and The Best of Harry Belafonte — Calypso — Disc 2. But who cares! Calypso became the first LP ever to sell over one million copies. According to the liner notes,

<Irving> Burgie was credited with the majority of the songs, which had been well rehearsed before Belafonte entered the studio... Ironically, then, it was the one piece of improvisation, Day-O, that would give the album its opening signature track and inspire a plethora of imitators.
Even if it is not really “the best of” Harry Belafonte (thank goodness for that! I can’t stand “the best of” albums), it is worth having for the sake of Day-O alone. Other highlights include Love, Love Alone and Scratch, Scratch.

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