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International Pop - Released October 16, 2000 | RCA Camden

Distinctions Exceptional Sound Recording
The Very Best of Harry Belafonte fulfills the promise of the title in fine fashion, compiling 20 of Belafonte's best-known hits onto a single CD (though it cheats slightly by adding a pair of unreleased tracks, "Bam Bam Bamba" and "Two Brothers"). Fans of his breakout Calypso LP from 1956 will find several tracks here -- the obvious "Banana Boat Song (Day-O)" plus "Jamaica Farewell" and "Man Smart (Woman Smarter)," though unfortunately not "Brown Skin Girl." Other highlights include "Coconut Woman" and "Island in the Sun." Interested parties who find much too much to love on Belafonte's three-disc set Greatest Hits will find everything they need right here. © John Bush /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 1, 1959 | RCA - Legacy

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International Pop - Released May 18, 1956 | RCA Records Label

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This is the album that made Harry Belafonte's career. Up to this point, calypso had only been a part of Belafonte's focus in his recordings of folk music styles. But with this landmark album, calypso not only became tattooed to Belafonte permanently; it had a revolutionary effect on folk music in the 1950s and '60s. The album consists of songs from Trinidad, mostly written by West Indian songwriter Irving Burgie (aka Lord Burgess). Burgie's two most successful songs are included -- "Day O" and "Jamaica Farewell" (which were both hit singles for Belafonte) -- as are the evocative ballads "I Do Adore Her" and "Come Back Liza" and what could be the first feminist folk song, "Man Smart (Woman Smarter)." Calypso became the first million-selling album by a single artist, spending an incredible 31 weeks at the top of the Billboard album charts, remaining on the charts for 99 weeks. It triggered a veritable tidal wave of imitators, parodists, and artists wishing to capitalize on its success. Years later, it remains a record of inestimable influence, inspiring many folksingers and groups to perform, most notably the Kingston Trio, which was named for the Jamaican capital. For a decade, just about every folksinger and folk group featured in their repertoire at least one song that was of West Indian origin or one that had a calypso beat. They all can be attributed to this one remarkable album. Despite the success of Calypso, Belafonte refused to be typecast. Resisting the impulse to record an immediate follow-up album, Belafonte instead spaced his calypso albums apart, releasing them at five-year intervals in 1961, 1966, and 1971. © Cary Ginell /TiVo
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Asia - Released November 26, 2019 | RevOla

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Pop - Released June 26, 1959 | RCA - Legacy

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Ambient/New Age - Released November 16, 2016 | Digital Gramophone

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Pop - Released January 5, 2015 | BnF Collection

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Pop - Released July 21, 1961 | RCA Records Label

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Pop - Released May 19, 1965 | RCA Records Label

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Pop - Released October 21, 1960 | RCA - Legacy

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International Pop - Released September 24, 2001 | RCA Records Label

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Pop - Released February 24, 2017 | Legacy Recordings

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International Pop - Released August 16, 2005 | RCA - Legacy

Harry Belafonte's influence on pop music is much more far reaching then many realize, as he was one of the first performers to bring worldbeat rhythms to the U.S. charts in the postwar era. Born in Harlem, but spending a good part of his childhood in his mother's native Jamaica, Belafonte grew up straddling cultures and musical styles, and bridging perceived differences became his calling card as an entertainer. His silky smooth mixture of jazz, folk, pop, and art song, often with impossibly infectious West Indies-styled accompaniment, coupled with his charismatic good looks and easy, hip coolness and sharp racial and political sense meant he was never reduced to being a mere commodity, even though he spent his whole career on major labels. This generous two-disc set (both discs track in at over 70 minutes) is the first affordable cross-label Belafonte collection to combine highlights from his stays at both the RCA and CBS labels, and the selections included here, spanning the years 1952 to 1977, were made by Belafonte himself. There's very little to quibble about (although one wonders about including a live version of his biggest hit, "Banana Boat Song (Day O)," instead of the original single version), and this thoughtfully sequenced set is easily the best introduction to the full range of his work currently on the market. Highlights are many, but include a 20-year-old Bob Dylan sitting in on harmonica for 1962's "Midnight Special," a defining version of Irving Burgie's gorgeous "Jamaica Farewell" from 1956, the adventurous worldbeat arrangement of "Turn the World Around" from 1977, an emotionally balanced rendition of Pete Seeger's haunting "Those Three Were on My Mind" from 1967, and an irresistible horn-led version of "Jump in the Line" from 1966's Calypso in Brass album. Belafonte's versatility may surprise some casual listeners who are only familiar with "Day O," and this set underscores his unique ability to find pop success with artful and socially committed material. Innovative, intelligent, and unceasingly creative, Belafonte is long overdue for a critical reappraisal. © Steve Leggett /TiVo
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Jazz - Released December 12, 2012 | Fresh Sound Records

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Pop - Released August 16, 1957 | RCA - Legacy

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Blues - Released January 17, 2014 | Gloria's Tunes

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Latin America - Released October 21, 2016 | Listening to Harry Belafonte Music Production

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Ambient/New Age - Released September 19, 1958 | RCA Records Label

Considering Belafonte's previous talent for breathing life into well-worn folk standards, this album is a disappointment. As a rule, Christmas albums during this period were little more than assembly line productions of the same old holiday tunes with few, if any, original songs and this one is no exception (how many versions of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" can you listen to?). The album sold poorly, even at a time when every Belafonte album hit the top 10. It was repackaged in 1962 with a more attractive cover (the photogenic Belafonte wasn't even on the front of the 1958 album!) and that release did better. © Cary Ginell /TiVo
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International Pop - Released July 25, 2000 | RCA Records Label

Digitally remastered in 2000, RCA's triple-disc package Greatest Hits is a stellar overview of Harry Belafonte's career, covering 53 tracks spanning the years 1952-1972. While Belafonte is, of course, best known for popularizing calypso music, Greatest Hits doesn't place a disproportionate emphasis on that aspect of his career; instead, the collection is a testament to Belafonte's eclecticism and versatility. His voice may have been tailor-made for straight-ahead pop, but Belafonte was most at home on folk material, and his sources ranged far and wide. Not only from standard American folk repertory and his beloved Caribbean, but jazz, blues, Appalachian folk, British folk, and slave spirituals and work songs, not to mention the wealth of material rediscovered during the 1960s folk revival. Greatest Hits isn't the ultimate word on Belafonte -- some of his individual albums remain important, essential works in their own right, particularly Calypso -- but as a thorough encapsulation of his career, it's richly rewarding and virtually flawless. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Latin America - Released August 30, 2016 | Belafonte Calypso Records