Attempting to round out my Harry Belafonte discography, I discovered this fun ad-sert from the early 1960’s. Harry’s records are generally very inexpensive to acquire, which bodes well for both the ear, and the pocket book.
Calypso, Harry Belafonte’s third album, is an exciting and turbulent ride. It precedes Jump Up Calypso, my personal favorite, by about five years, and is pure, unquestionable, Belafonte gold. Both figuratively and literally, having officially reaching Gold status, and it was the first LP in history to sell over one million copies. Don’t believe me? Check the cover. “One of the Biggest-Selling Albums of All Time… Says it all, mate!
We’re happy to (finally) bring home, into the collection, Harry Belafonte’s 1957 album of Caribbean lullabies, Belafonte Sings of the Caribbean. She was once the black hole among the early Belafonte releases, the only missing LP from Harry’s first five years, and is arguably one of his all-time greatest records, aside from 1956’s Calypso and 1961’s Jump Up Calypso. Anyway, I was happy to find it for a cool $4 this weekend. Cheers.
1967’s Belafonte on Campus is a modest collection of college touring favorites played on a then forty school, forty day tour. It’s often easy to overlook the power of folk music on North American youth throughout the murky turmoil that surrounded the late 1960s. Mr. Belafonte was first and foremost a man of the people, and his profound followers filled assembly halls and auditoriums to capacity (in some cases beyond), and Belafonte on Campus is a must listen for any fan of music history, and / or prolific performers. “… if you don’t move to this one, then you’re dead.” – William A. Attaway, Belafonte on Campus back cover.
I was a little apprehensive upon finding Harry Belafonte’s first album in the $1 bin at my local brick & mortar today. I mean, she’s been widely distributed, enjoyed, and redistributed over the past 62 years (1954 -2016), and as a result, she’s a bit beat-the-shit-up. SEVERAL skips marinate the vocal forthcomings of this majestic record, but I still don’t question the trade of my GW. Not only because it’s Mr. Belafonte’s first, but because it’s that damn good.
Spice up your mundane Monday with a splash of enthusiasm with Mr. Harry Belafonte and his 1961 smash hit, Jump Up Calypso. The follow-up to 1956’s straight-shooting Calypso, Jump Up is a hurricane in all kinds of weather. Aside from offering both Angelina AND Jump in the Line, Jump Up Calypso was the unofficial soundtrack to the 1988 Tim Burton comedy, Beetlejuice. Listen to this, then watch that, and count how many times this album pops up. I count five, but I haven’t seen the film in a few years.
Monday’s don’t have to be banal. Sprinkle in a dash of Calypso, and your feet will feel as light as Caribbean air.
Also, if you’re in the states, don’t forget to vote tomorrow!
Derived from the LP of the same name, this 4-track EP 7″ is perfect for those hurried evenings when a little romantic nudge is required, but the depth of a fully hammered out album is the LAST thing on your mind. As far as I’m concerned, any Belafonte is better than no Belafonte, and after a quick, 2-track flip, your planned, erotic evening will be swiftly underway, thanks to the nimble, intoxicating seduction of this unforgettable evening, with Belafonte.
Now, I’ll be honest and say I’ve never really pondered the notion, spun the groovy hamster wheel of imagination if you will, of what mainstream acts may have performed at Los Angeles’ legendary Greek Theatre in say, the summer of 1981. Call me old school, or whatever the kids are saying these days, but the idea never really crossed my mind. Thankfully, the previous owner of my copy of Harry Belafonte’s Harry Belafonte preserved this little time capsule-nugget-thing neatly away into the sleeve for me to discover some 30 odd years later. THANK YOU, OH GREAT AND WISE YESTEROWNER OF HARRY BELAFONTE’S HARRY BELAFONTE! THIS LITTLE 21-PAGE MAGAZINE IS NOTHING SHORT OF MYSTIFYING AND PROFOUNDLY ENJOYABLE! (I believe in giving credit where credit is due.)
Anyone want to hit up Doc Brown to see if we can borrow his GMC and head to the Greek to see Pete Seeger & Arlo Guthrie perform? Or how about Harry Belafonte with special guest Letta Mbulu? I know this guy who’s just sitting on a box of plutonium, so no need for gas money. The first round of Michelob is on me!
Bring home the gift of timeless music with this collection of Harry Belafonte favorites. With this limited time offer, you can enjoy such chart topping classics as, Jump Down, Spin Around, Angelina, Cocoanut Woman and many more! Not only is Harry Belafonte a handcrafted compilation of previously released material, it’s also pressed on dynaflex, which as you know is:
The RCA trademark for a new development in record manufacturing that provides a smoother, quieter surface and improved ability to reproduce musical sound. This lightweight record also virtually eliminates warpage and turntable slippage.
Harry Belafonte: offering affordable classics while instigating the right wing since 1952!
This playful little selection sounds exactly like one would imagine by the parrot-laden cover and a title that is about as on-the-nose as could be humanly conceived. Throwaway titles for this album could have been: Riding the Coattails of the Rising Star, Harry Belafonte and His Successful Calypso Sound and This is Calypso Music, You Narrow-Minded Yankee.
Ok, I’ll admit, the only other Calypso music I’ve been exposed to was indeed Harry Belafonte, so this write-up isn’t going to be anything near groundbreaking (not that there would be any worry of that to begin with). So, that having been stated, here goes:
This is an exceptionally fun album! The singers, both male and female HAD to be sore with grinning stretch marks from the making of this album. It’s good-time music. Plain and simple. Did your dog just knock over his water dish for the 17th time during the last commercial break of Gentle Ben? This album will help cheer you up. Did you just find out that your spouse has been secretly cheating on you with your younger sibling and that the raised papules on your skin sustained while swimming in that lake in early June may in fact be Swimmer’s Itch? Calypso Holiday will free you from this and seemingly ANY First World trouble.
So, Wikipedia tells me that, ahem, “Calypso is a style of Afro-Caribbean music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago from African and European roots.” Being neither African nor European, I proceed to Google “Trinidad and Tobago. “ Well, Oxnard California this is not! The women are beautiful (and wearing next to nothing), and that has GOT to be some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen (Probably Photoshopped). I’ve never had any sizable itch to travel south of San Diego, but a Port of Spain vacation has just made my bucket list.
Focus track for side 1: Dance de Limbo (Track 6). I challenge any of you to listen to this song and NOT nod your head to the simple pleasures of the religiously pure Calypso sound. Think back about that pool of water on your kitchen floor… You are now getting thoughts of raiding the closet for a broom with which to start a Limbo. Get to the back of the line, buddy, and fix me another Flying Masturbator. (It Exists)
End of side 1
The first track on side 2, Sound de Fire Alarm begins an awful lot like Belafonte’s Jump in the Line (Shake Senora). I’m going to be thinking of this song while the “several-times-daily” fire trucks roll by my window to the rescue of some poor cat stranded up in a tree. Do cats still climb trees on LA’s west side?
Columbia Records put out this release in 1957, just 1 year after RCA’s release of Belafonte’s appropriately, and also on-the-nose album titled simply, Calypso. That album, having been only Belafonte’s 3rd, went on to sell over a million copies and spent 99 weeks on the U.S. Billboard charts. So, Columbia Records, being nether based in Columbia NOR, seemingly, having a creative bone in their corporate skeleton, decided to cash in on Mr. Belafonte’s raging success. As I’d mentioned, Belafonte is the only other Calypso artist I know, but I can promise that you’ll only read his name 1 more time during this write-up. Belafonte.
Allmusic.com doesn’t rate Calypso Holiday, or even provide an album cover. What type of flabbergasting tomfoolery is this! Somebody should write a letter. Here is their address:
1168 Oak Valley Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Mr. Luboff unfortunately met his demise in September of 1987. I was eight then, and it would be close to fifteen years until I would even hear the poor man’s name. Well, he was talented, so I doubt he was poor, just poor in the sense that he’s now dead. For all I know he may have wanted to die, which would mean his death wasn’t poor at all. He had lung cancer which, I imagine doesn’t feel like a dip in the Caribbean Sea. Maybe his death was something of a sweet Calypso melody, softly kissing the ears of another eager listener. His NYT Obituary can be found here, if you’re into that kind of thing: Obit
Well, now I feel bad, having ended such an uplifting album on a morose disposition. The inevitable Yin to the Calypso Yang, I guess.
Quickly, the back cover suggests “Records sound best on Columbia phonographs.” So, remember that the next time you’re shopping for your next hi-fi home stereo system. Or don’t. I won’t know.