June 23, 2001
Dear Albert,
Congratulations!!! - Great work.
What a wonderful inspiration and joy to work with you.
Hopefully it will continue in the future.
Jan, Denmark

Hello Jan,
Without your close participation this discography of original recordings by Harry Belafonte could never have achieved its present level of accuracy and completeness. Let the collaboration continue.
Kind regards, Albnut, Montreal

June 23, 2001
Albert,
Congratulations on this new site about Harry Belafonte! It was quite a surprise and made my day, at a time when I really needed a boost. I had been finding some kind of solace by listening to his songs, as I have been doing for the past 46 years, but it was great to come across a brand new site about him. I only viewed the first 3 pages, but I did not want to postpone my congratulations and thanks. The 2 portraits are superb ! I will be a frequent visitor, as, I'm sure, will be all the fans who find this new site. There cannot be too many sites about such an extraordinary man who defies categorization.
Probably his oldest fan,
Frederique, USA

Hello Frederique,
Knowing that you find value in this tribute to Belafonte means a lot to me.
Kind regards, Albnut

June 23, 2001
Dear Albert,
Thank you for sharing so much of yourself and your stories with us in this wonderful tribute to Mr. Belafonte. As always, your thoroughness and perfectionism shine through, and, as is fitting, is underlined by the great respect I know you hold for this man. I hope this site gives you as much pleasure and surprises as site of sites has given me. Bravo, Albert!
With much care, Judy, Montreal

Hello Judy,
You were one of the very few who were party to my machinations. Thanks ever so much for believing in the project when it appeared it was not going to progress beyond the stage of mission statements and related hollow rhetoric.
Kind regards, Albnut

June 25, 2001
Dear Albert,
And I so wanted to be first in your guest book- Harry and Walter, what a combo that would have been! You still have the work ethic- what an enormous task you have taken on and completed in grand style. Congratulations on your new adventure. Perhaps one day I'll "take a trip on a sailing ship" and venture into the world of web site creation.
Keep in touch, my P.A.C.I. friend- as ever.
Walter, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Hi Walter,
It comes as no surprise that your posting has captured the true spirit of "Rambles". How could it be otherwise? In relating those snippets I drew liberally from the lessons you taught me over the years.
Kind regards, Albnut

July 4, 2001
Bootleg Recordings

Dear Carlo,
On another topic, I have a couple of Belafonte Bootleg LPs (1 on the Joker label) that were pressed in Italy. It has been my intention to study those tracks to trace their origins but you most probably have all the answers.
Kind regards, Albnut

 

Hello Albert,
It's always so good to hear from you! I see you have pointed out the very topics that I know well. I wish I had all the answers, but unfortunately I do not. I even asked the Joker Company, but never had a reply. As far as I know, these same recordings have been released over the years on many different labels throughout Europe and Japan, but never in U.S.A. In Italy they appeared for the first time on Joker in 1976 as simply "Harry Belafonte" (SM-3803) and again in 1981 as "Banana Boat" (SM-3925). Other re-releases followed on labels like Lotus and Fremus. Differently assembled, and often with incorrect titles, they included the following songs:

01) Hallelujah I Love Her So

08) Mo Mary

02) Turn Around

09) The Fox

03) Shenandoah

10) Acorn In The Meadow

04) Take My Mother Home

11) Banana Boat

05) Jamaica Farewell

12)Come Back Liza

06) Jump Down, Spin Around

13) Matilda

07) In That Great Gettin' Up Mornin'

14) Sylvie

Nevertheless, just the first 7 tracks are the mysterious and interesting ones. The others are either regular studio versions with added applause, or actual live recordings from the 1959 Carnegie Hall concert - all, I must say, in poor sound quality.
Having said this, I will give you my thoughts on the tracks in question. In my opinion they are radio broadcast or TV recordings made between 1958 and 1960. For instance, Hallelujah I Love Her So and Turn Around sound like the studio recordings with a different orchestration. Shenandoah, Take My Mother Home and Jamaica Farewell have the same arrangements as  Carnegie Hall, so they could very well date from that period. In That Great Gettin' Up Morniní appears to be the only real live recording of the set. I remember Harry performing it on a TV Special of Gospel songs in 1960 (with Odetta as guest), but I can't tell you for sure if this is that version.
So Iím afraid this is all I can tell you right now. I should remember to discuss it with Harry himself the next time I meet him. All my thoughts about this issue were recorded on a study of his discography which I gave him in 1995. I asked whether he would help me complete it, but he never got back to me. I can understand that he must be far too busy for such matters!
Best wishes, Carlo, Italy

Update, March 2002
Based on information you recently sent my way I am now convinced that five of those recordings come from the 1960 TV special, The Bell Telephone Hour, "Adventures In Music." These are:
Turn Around, Jump Down, Spin Around, Hallelujah I Love Her So
Take My Mother Home
, and In That Great Gettiní Up Morniní
Carlo

Aug 2, 2001
Dear Albnut,
What a wonderful homage to Belafonte, one of the world's top performers. And to think that this whole website was created by a man who, only a few years ago, had no use for computers. Well... turns out that your virtual hands are as dexterous as your real ones. Can I apprentice? I am once again impressed.
Chapeau! Sue de Nym, Toronto

Hello Sue de Nym,
Now don't think you are going to get some kind of apology for those unkind words about computers. It's just that when I realized all that technology stood between me and the audience I wanted to reach, there was no choice but to become computer-literate.
Kind regards, Albnut

Aug 17, 2001
In Search of Belafonteís Yellow Bird

Hello !
I am trying desperately to find a recording of Belafonte's "Yellow Bird." It's my parents' favorite song, having heard it on their honeymoon in 1957. I can't find a recording anywhere -- can you explain this? Can you tell me where I might locate it?
Anon, USA

Hello Anon,
I can appreciate your frustration at not being able to find any reference whatsoever to a recording of "Yellow Bird" by Harry Belafonte. This is quite simply because it does not exist. It's even doubtful, in spite of frequent requests, that it was ever performed in concert. There is a longstanding misconception that he recorded and popularized this number. He did though include a ballad called "Don't Ever Love Me" in his 1957 album titled, "Belafonte Sings of the Caribbean" (actually first released on single with "Mama Look A Boo Boo").  It draws from the same melody and ranks up there with the likes of "Jamaica Farewell."
After working with Harry Belafonte on two LPs, "Belafonte" and "Calypso," the Norman Luboff Choir came out with an album of West Indian music in 1957 called "Calypso Holiday." One of the 12 titles was "Yellow Bird" and it quickly became a favourite amongst those tracking the Calypso craze. It is significant that Belafonte collaborated in the selection of repertoire for this LP. Although many artists did covers of "Yellow Bird," the Luboff interpretation is widely considered to be the one that turned this number into a pop standard.
The song itself has a very long history. It seems it first appeared in the French islands as "Petit Oiseau" a version of which ("Choucounne") was recorded on the Stinson label in the very early 50s by none other than Lord Burgess (Irving Burgie). A few years later he joined forces with Harry Belafonte, and artists such as William Attaway, Millard Thomas, and together they set out to give the traditional music of the Islands a new face. The rest is history.
"Don't Ever Love Me" can be found on the CD compilation, "Harry Belafonte, All Time Greatest Hits, Vol. 1, BMG-07863-56877-2," which takes in quite a nice selection of his early recordings. I am not sure I have helped any but you may contact me again once you have reviewed this response with your parents.
Kind regards, Albnut

Aug 27, 2001
Yellow Bird

Hello Albert,
It is quite funny to see how long-time issues still seem to pop up from time to time. I remember the "Yellow Bird" question from way back in the late 50s. I guess that your origin seems fair. I first heard it as "Choucounne" way back in 1957 when it was recorded by Nina & Frederik. Later came the "Yellow Bird" version with English lyrics. Here in Europe the best known recording was by the Mills Brothers, I guess. At least this was the one always heard on the radio. A later version in both languages - French patois and English - was done by Eartha Kitt - and in a flea-market I found an old 78 with a version done by Katherine Dunham, a dancer/choreographer who had her own company which included later well-knowns as former mentioned Eartha Kitt and Julie Robinson/Belafonte!!
Jan, Denmark

Hello Jan,
True to form you have filled in the missing pieces. As for classic misconceptions, how many listeners still associate the song, "(At) THE END (of a Rainbow)," with Nat King Cole when in fact it was Earl Grant who did the honours? And contrary to popular opinion, it was Conway Twitty who recorded "It's Only Make Believe" and not Elvis Presley.
Kind regards, Albnut

Sept 27, 2001
Early Memories of Yellow Bird

Bonjour Albert,
I've been postponing writing for over a week, but after reading your guest book this morning, I really want to thank you for the fascinating information, particularly about "Yellow Bird".
"Don't Ever Love Me" has always been one of my favorite songs by Harry. From the beginning it seemed like a familiar tune with variations, but I could never quite remember why. And today, thanks to your guest book entries, I finally know ! Yes, it's "Petit Oiseau !" I can't recall the lyrics even though I used to sing it to my first born a half century ago!! But it brings back many pleasant memories.

Actually, I started this message to urge you, and all Harry's admirers to buy "The Long Road To Freedom, An Anthology of Black Music." It is absolutely superb - first class, right from the music to the book. The box itself is a work of art. I have not watched the DVD yet as I have to visit one of my sons for that part of the masterpiece. But what I saw on NBC 's Today Show, only minutes before the tragic attack on New York, was amazing. It was such a joy to hear him talking about the release and looking so happy. And then suddenly everything changed ! Unfortunately the disaster stopped the momentum of interviews associated with this project, as well as everything else in the US. But I just received the Fall 2001 issue of the Time-Life music catalogue and "The Long Road to Freedom" is included. Time-Life claims that people are calling this set "the single most important historical collection released in 2001." So I hope lots of people will get it and appreciate it for the "chef d'oeuvre" that it is.
Best regards, and thanks for your great work,
Frederique (from France, and the USA)
PS: I was so worried about Harryís safety during the crisis that I called New York. When I did manage to get through I was reassured that he and his group were all fine.

Hello Frederique,
I am pleased to say that I obtained a copy of "The Long Road to Freedom" and agree with you that it's an awesome piece of work. It is hard to comprehend how such an important project could gather dust in the RCA vaults for 30 years before being released. But then such things do tend to happen for reasons which only become clear with the passage of time.
Kind regards, Albnut

Oct 4, 2001
Another Song Quest

Hello Albnut,
Both my mother and I are huge fans of Harry Belafonte. She is desperately searching for a recording of Streets Of London from the LP "Loving You Is Where I Belong." Can you help? Also do you have any contact with Mr. Belafonte? My mother and I have tickets to the November 10 show in Toronto at Roy Thomson Hall. What are the chances of him doing a special request, say "Streets Of London?" My mom would absolutely melt in her seat.
Regards, Anon in Toronto

Hello Anon,
How nice that an appreciation for the man and his music has been passed on by your mother! And "Streets Of London" is such a great message song - the kind that Belafonte does so well. Let me get back to you on this subject. I will also be in attendance at Roy Thomson Hall in the company of two of my daughters. We would not miss it for anything! Regarding special requests, I am sorry to report that I have no contact with Harry. In fact I doubt very much whether he is even aware of the existence of "Belafonte Tracks." He has been a constant in my life for the past 47 years and "Tracks" is just my way of paying tribute to him and his relentless efforts to make this world a better place for us all.
Kind regards, Albnut

Hello Albnut,
Well you are doing an amazing job with this homage to Mr. Belafonte. Like you, I share the feeling that he is not only a magnificent entertainer but a consummate humanitarian and truly unique person. I must confess that I also think he is the most handsome man I have ever seen in my entire life. Even at his age, he still makes my heart skip a beat! My mom feels the same way. Imagine! My earliest memories of Harry were when I used to sing and dance to his albums (Carnegie Hall, Jump Up Calypso, ...). It wasn't until later that I became aware of his  humanitarian efforts. We need more like him on this planet, especially in these troubled times. I have young children and fear for their future.
Sincerely, Anon in Toronto

Oct 11, 2001
Yellow Bird Association Lives On

Readers,
Talk about timing ! A current auction posting on eBay :
"You are bidding on a musical collectible entitled Yellowbird. This is a really beautiful piece in perfect condition. The top revolves and features two yellow birds perched on a branch surrounded by delicate apple blossoms. The music box works perfectly. I think the tune is by Harry Belafonte, something about a banana tree. I don't know the title."
End of quote, Albnut

Oct 12, 2001
Roll on Buddy

Hello Albert,
I would just like to point out that the single version of Roll On Buddy has a 1965 matrix number, so it seems it was recorded two years before the album track (LP, Belafonte On Campus), and not in 1967 as you have suggested. This different interpretation is also missing from the list of alternate recordings.
Carlo, Italy

Hello Carlo,
You are absolutely correct ! The two tracks in question happen to be the same length but the similarities end there. The arrangements are not even remotely similar. Thanks for alerting me to this discrepancy. The site has been revised accordingly.
Kind regards and many thanks, Albnut

Nov 1, 2001
Alternate Recordings

Hello Albert,
Now back to your site, I have found a couple of things which I would like to discuss with you.
Kingston Market
You say that on the "Jump Up Calypso" CD there is an overdubbed version of the studio master. Well, in my opinion it is an alternate take, because Harry's vocal is different. It is evident from the first verse:

LP "... heard the shuffle of a thousand feet, drums from morning 'til night"
CD "... heard the shuffle of a thousand feet, and drums from morning 'til night"
Listen also to the different phrasing on "... breadfruit, okra, pidgeon peas."

Fare Thee Well
The title is the same but the songs on "Sings The Blues" and "Warm Touch" are different, both in music and lyrics. The first is credited to C. C. Carter, the second an adaptation by Bill Eaton. Considering this, I think the title should not be in the list of "Standards," (songs recorded more than once). They are just two different songs.
Best wishes, Carlo, Italy

Hello Carlo,
As usual you have brought valid new information to the discussion. Furthermore, you are totally correct on both counts. How do you manage to keep on top of the works of both Elvis and Harry? I'm impressed! In the case of "Fare Thee Well" I started by playing the two recordings over and over while transcribing the lyrics. My conclusions were that they do share a theme and chorus lyric, but nothing much else. Not trusting my own judgment on such matters, I asked Jan whether he would listen to both tracks and offer an opinion. He went even further, suggesting that - as far as he could tell - they have only the title in common.
The lyrics follow for those who may be interested in pursuing the subject.
Kind regards, Albnut

Fare Thee Well

Fare Thee Well

(LP, Belafonte Sings The Blues)

(LP, Belafonte, The Warm Touch)

One of these days

If I had wings

And it wonít be long

Like Noahís dove

Youíre gonna call my name

Iíd fly up the river

And Iíll be gone

Just to see the woman that I love

Fare thee well, oh Honey

Fare you well, oh my Honey

Fare thee well

I say, fare you well

Well you donít know

When I woke up this morniní

You donít know my mind

It was drizzliní rain

When you see me laughiní Baby

All around my heart

Itís to keep from cryiní

Well there was an ache and pain

Fare thee well, oh Honey

Fare you well, oh my Honey

Honey, fare thee well

I say, fare you well

God knows Iíve tried

Now when you wore

Iíve done my best

Your apron low

But I guess Iím just a rambler

You couldnít keep me

Like all the rest

No you couldnít keep me

From around your door

Fare thee, fare thee well, oh Honey

Honey, fare thee well

Fare you well, oh my Honey

I say, fare you well

I donít know where

Donít know where Iím bound

Now you wear

Keep lookiní for something

Your apron high

I ainít never found

You say you never

No you never, you scarcely ever

Fare thee well oh Honey, Honey

See me passiní by

Honey, fare thee well

Fare you well, oh my Honey

Thereís just one thing

I say, fare you well

That troubles my mind

Oh fare you well

And thatís leaving you Darliní

Goodbye woman

Leaving you here behind

I know Iíve done you wrong

Oh fare you well

Fare thee well, oh Honey

Honey, fare thee well

Bye bye Baby

Pretty Baby bye bye

Your Daddyís gone

Your Daddyís gone from you

Fare thee well, oh Honey, Honey

Honey, fare thee well

Dec 12, 2001
Hosanna

Dear Albnut,
I have been a fan of Mr. Belafonte's music for most of my life. Our church choir would love to do Hosanna, one of his calypso numbers, but Iím afraid I can't find the music anywhere. The arrangement was so great, with the joyous and sometimes humorous back-up singing. I hope to get the music and then arrange it for the choir. Any help you can give us will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Larry in California

Dear Larry,
It's always nice to hear from another long-standing Belafonte fan. Hosanna is a catchy number which deserved a lot more attention than it received when released back in the fifties. Your project sounds exciting and possibly I can help. I will check my references and report back.
Kind regards, Albnut

Dec 14, 2001
Protest Songs

Dear Albnut,
In a related matter, I once heard an interview given by Mr. Belafonte mentioning another album of calypso, a very dark and somber sort. He explained the dichotomy of the two styles, one the people sang in the presence of the colonials (bright) and the other, amongst themselves (somber protests). Did that album ever get produced? Is it available?
Thanks, Larry in California

Dear Larry,
I do not believe this material was ever committed to vinyl. There are five strictly Caribbean (West Indian) LPs in all (Calypso, Belafonte Sings Of The Caribbean, Jump Up Calypso, Calypso In Brass, and Calypso Carnival). In my view, none of these project a consistent protest theme. However, there are other Belafonte albums that do largely fall into this category (e.g. Swing Dat Hammer, The Midnight Special, Ballads, Blues, & Boasters, For The Love Of Life, Harry & Lena, and Paradise in Gazankulu). The first four are drawn from the black experience in America while "Gazankulu" is tied to the struggle in South Africa.

Interestingly, just when Mr. Belafonte's popularity was peaking in the late fifties he decided to go into the studio to record "Swing Dat Hammer," a selection of chain gang laments. It was an absolute blockbuster of an LP which was very well received overseas but less so back here in North America, where his fans had not yet encountered an angry Belafonte. This has to be his most poignant collection of protests. But I am sure that you are as familiar with these shouts, hollers and chants as I am. You must also be aware of his album of spirituals released about the same time.
Kind regards, Albnut

Jan 3, 2002
CD, Very Best Of Harry Belafonte

Dear Albert,
Just before Christmas I received a copy of the latest Belafonte compilation Very Best Of Harry Belafonte, RCA 07863 68097 2. I have now had time to listen to it and would like to share the following observations, comments and frustrations with you.
First, the 3 previously unreleased tracks:
Track 02, Done Laid Around
Track 16, Two Brothers
Track 20, Bam Bam Bamba
I disagree with information about the release year being 1956 for the following three reasons:
1) All 3 matrix numbers start with the prefix J2PB. Issues from1956 were given G2 (G2PW) prefixes (e.g. track 10, Cu Cu Ru Cu Cu Paloma), while those from 1958 were given J2 (J2PW) prefixes (e.g. track 06, Cotton Fields) - therefore my guess would be 1958 as the correct year for all three tracks.
2) All 3 tracks inform Bob Corman being conductor of the orchestra. In 1956 Belafonte's conductor was William Lorin on his recordings (An Evening With ...). As far as I know Bob Corman did not appear as conductor until 1957 on recordings for the album "Sings Of The Caribbean."
3) All 3 tracks are in "true stereophonic sound" which did not appear on records until 1958, and I doubt very much whether this technique was being used in recording studios back in 1956.

Next, the 4 tracks originally recorded for the "Sings Of The Caribbean" sessions of 1957:
Track 07, Angelique-O
Track 11, Coconut Woman
Track 17, Island In The Sun
Track 19, Mama, Look At Bubu
To my great dismay I discovered that they are now being presented in some sort of "stereo." Belafonte's vocals come out of the left channel while the chorus and orchestra come out of the right one! Could this really be RCA Victor's early attempts at stereophonic recordings, or are they merely very clumsy attempts by a sound-technician on this re-issue to simulate stereo? None of these tracks previously released on other compilations (e.g. All Time Greatest Hits Vol. 1 and 2) appear in this form. And who may I ask is the heartless "wise-guy" who has so cruelly edited the first verse (21 seconds) out of "Island In The Sun?!" This is unheard of in the case of classic recordings!

Track 12, Jamaica Farewell
The version included in this compilation is the one which first appeared on the 45 rpm single 47-6663, it being the flip-side of "Once Was" with William Lorin as conductor. It was subsequently re-issued in the Gold Standard Series as 447-0324 which gives July 24, 1956 as the recording date. The matrix number, G2PW-4916, is correct though!
Track 18, Man Smart (Woman Smarter)
The original 45 rpm single version issued on 47-4892 has a duration of 2:34 minutes. It carries the same matrix number as stated here (i.e. E2VB-6838) but is without the 9 seconds Spanish spoken intro found on the present track with a duration of only 2:28 minutes. It is difficult to say if the CD track is an "up-speeded" version of an edited(??) original version - or simply a different take.
Track 06, Cotton Fields
A little disappointing to discover this rather distorted mono version when a beautiful digitally re-mastered track is available in stereo - previously used in the "All Time Greatest Hits Vol. 2" album.
Very best wishes, 
Jan, Denmark

Dear Jan,
As expected you have come up with some great observations on this, the latest Belafonte compilation. I had covered a few points in the November update but you have hit on others that I missed. The whole business of indiscriminate edits, both before and after initial release, leaves a guy wondering! In this regard the following exchanges with Andy will be of interest.
Kind regards, Albnut

Jan 7, 2002
Elusive Belafonte Tracks

Hi Albnut,
I came across your site today during my search for a couple of elusive Belafonte tracks. I see that you are very knowledgeable when it comes to Harry's music, so I thought I'd run a couple questions by you.
First, are you at all familiar with an alternate version of the song Mama Look A Boo Boo that appeared on a 2-LP set put out by Tee Vee records? It is faster than the one that seems to be on every Belafonte CD compilation out there. Instead of a more traditional calypso rhythm I recall the dominant intro sound being that of a trumpet-led orchestra. I grew up with this interpretation and always considered it to be the original, but it now seems that perhaps mine was in fact an alternate. Are you aware of any CDs (or other LPs, besides the aforementioned one) that actually contain this alternate? I've checked about 10 CDs that have "Mama" on them, and they all feature the "other" version.
This same Tee Vee Records LP had Judy Drownded on it. I've come to realize that this song was published very few times, and it seems that all CDs containing "Judy" are pretty much out of print. I've spent countless hours on the Web searching and searching for these long lost tracks, but have pretty much come up empty. If there are any tips you can offer, I would be extremely grateful.
Thanks for producing and maintaining such a wonderful tribute site. Keep up the good work! I appreciate your time and any help you can offer.
Andy in LA, California

Hello Andy,
Great to hear from yet another dedicated Belafonte fan. It's people like you who keep me going. Hereís at least a partial response to your queries.
1. Mama Look a Boo Boo
As you will note under "Standards Revisited" on the site, there are five original and distinct recordings of "Boo Boo." Two are from studio sessions (1957 and 1966), the others from live performances (2 of these being only "samplers" as they are part of medleys). I am certain the track you are looking for can be found on the LP, "Calypso in Brass" released in 1966. In spite of its up-tempo and unique flavour, this album was not a big seller at the time, most numbers being rearrangements of familiar Belafonte songs from earlier singles and LPs (Calypso, Belafonte Sings of the Caribbean, and Jump Up Calypso). As a consequence it is unlikely that you will find this particular interpretation on CD. However, the "Calypso in Brass" vinyl LP does show up on eBay from time to time if you are interested.

I agree that "Boo Boo" with the horns is a standout. My personal favourite, though, remains the original interpretation from 1957. But that's only because I carried it around in my head for nine full years before the Calypso-in-Brass rendition appeared. As a matter of interest, when the author, Lord Melody (aka Fitzroy Alexander), first heard what Belafonte did to his signature song he was totally amazed. A close friendship ensued.
2. Judy Drownded
There are really only two interpretations of "Judy Drownded" out there, as you will see under "Standards Revisited." The track from "Belafonte Sings of the Caribbean" can be found on the Pair CD, "Harry Belafonte, Island in the Sun" (PDC2-1295), which brings together 20 West Indian songs from three LPs. The alternate version is not to be had on compact disc for the same reasons given above. Again, grab yourself a copy of the "Calypso in Brass" LP when it comes up on eBay.
Hope I have helped a little. Let's keep the lines of communication open.
Kind regards, Albnut

Hi Albnut,
Thanks a ton for your input. This has become something of an obsession for me the past couple of weeks. My dad bought the Tee Vee Records collection on LP back in the 1960s, and it was my favourite growing up. I think you are 100% right on the "Calypso in Brass" hunch. About 10 years ago, I copied the LP onto a cassette, and that is the only remaining copy I have. I just pulled it out to remind myself of the version I seek - it definitely has the brass sound (being a trumpet player, that's also what I happen to prefer). It contains such an awesome call and response bit between the different sections of the orchestra - it's amazing!
I'll keep my eyes peeled on eBay as you suggest.
Thanks again and take care,
Andy in LA, California

Jan 8, 2002
Track Edits

Hi Albnut,
Speaking of alternate versions, I recently purchased the Legendary 3-CD set (made in Australia) and was shocked and disgusted when I listened to Man Piaba and the best lines in the whole song (I've been over land and been over sea, trying to find the answer Ďbout the bird and bee, but now that I am 93 I don't give a damn you see) were omitted, just cut right out. I still can't believe it !!
Andy in LA, California

Hello Andy,
Thanks ever so much for resolving what, for me, was a mystery. I wondered about the missing time on the very latest Man Piaba track but it was such a seamless edit (delete) that it went completely unnoticed. Well, so much for my listening skills!
Andy, you have succeeded in adding to the growing list of ruthless and indiscriminate track edits that continue to appear on compilations, some touted as re-mastered recordings.
These are :-
Cocoanut Woman - Missing scat on single release and subsequent compilations.
Goiní Down Jordan - "Happy Days" bridge edited out prior to first issue in 1961.
The Saints Go Marching In - Old English madrigal opener dropped from live track.
Island In The Sun - Front end cropped.
The Fox - Horn intro cut.
La Bamba - Soft and melodic lead-in verses deleted from live track.
Man Piaba - A seamless but sad axing of final verse and punch-line.
P. S.
I was routing around last night checking on some dangling issues when I stumbled upon the "Island In The Sun, 20 Golden Songs" CD (RMB 75089) made in Portugal. Whatever you do don't buy it. It contains a number of abbreviated tracks, the titles are often incorrect, and sound quality terrible. I picked it up a year ago because there was one song I did not recognize. It turned out to be a familiar track carrying an alias. What some people will resort to in order to make a buck!
Kind regards, Albnut

Jan 22, 2002
En GršnslŲs Kvšll PŚ Operan
(An Evening Without Borders At The Operahouse)

Dear Albert,
As I recall this show was set up in Stockholm as a benefit for The Martin Luther King Foundation. The National Swedish Television Company offered " live-direct " transmission to the other Scandinavian countries - Denmark, Norway and Finland. It was a so-called Nordvision transmission, a co-operation among the Scandinavian countries where costs were shared and each contributed artists. It was scheduled to last two hours but as the show progressed it became evident that the time-table could not be held. Sure enough, the National Danish Television Network decided to " fade out " when Belafonte was right in the middle of Matilda. They announced they were sorry to leave the show but that they had to get on with the next scheduled program. And there I was recording reel-to-reel ! Furious, I switched over to the Swedish channel but, having a rather small aerial on the roof, the signal was just too weak. So I ended up with this very long show, including contributions from various local artists, but with the end of Belafonteís Matilda missing ! During the program it was announced that a live LP would be on the streets the following day, but obviously not in Denmark. It wasnít until two months later that a Copenhagen record-shop obtained a few copies from Sweden. There on the album I found the full version of Matilda, although slightly edited. On the tape we hear Belafonte and Swedish singer, Monica Zetterland, having difficulties finding a mutual key for their duet, whereas on the LP there is only Belafonte saying " and now Monica " in change of key.
Up until just recently I thought that the show ended with " Matilda " but it appears that it may have been " Jamaica Farewell " which is however also missing from the album. There were sound problems right from the start. During Belafonteís opening number " Look Over Yonder - Roll On Buddy " his hand mike started to act up. It spoiled the song completely and made it unsuitable for use on the LP. Therefore we have " Glory Manger, " a very quiet number as the opening track on the LP. The distortions continued throughout the entire program, with even " Shake That little Foot " not making it onto the album.
Interestingly the record covers and labels were printed beforehand with nobody able to predict what the final recording would contain. Also there are no liner-notes nor inner sleeve as you might expect with an album.
I hope this answers some of your questions.
Best wishes, Jan

Feb 7, 2002
Cockney Air

Dear Albert,
Here I am again to ask you a big favour. Would you please send me the words to The Drummer And The Cook according to the version on the LP " An Evening With Belafonte. " The singing part is the same as on " Mark Twain " but there are spoken passages that I can hardly understand. Harry uses a very strange accent and pronunciation!
Thank you very much in advance,
Bye, Carlo

Dear Carlo,
Iím afraid this is just about as close as I can come with the scripting for the between-verse patter. Surprisingly I have never heard anyone comment on these two very different interpretations of the same song. Itís a delightful experience to listen to them both, and especially back-to-back. The "Evening" version is dressed up in a very humorous pre-Beatles Cockney accent that gives the piece a whole different character. What a charmer he is that Harry!
Please let me know if I have missed something.
Kind regards, Albnut

Between-verse Patter

I say there governor, ah governor conductor that is,
I wonder if youíd be so kind as to give me a little (h)elp over (h)ere.
You see I donít read this (h)ere,
This (h)ere music that you done put in front of me (h)ere,
And I find it rather difficult ploughing through these (h)ere hieroglyphics.
But if you could just give me a little, a little help over (h)ere.
Is it my turn to come in ?
Okay, (h)ere we go, sir.


Iíd, Iíd really appreciate it if you, if youíd just point over (h)ere at me.
Just give me a little, a little ...
Just tickle me into the music right easy.
Just, just point your finger this way so I can feel when I come in.
Very good, thank you, sir.
All right now, (h)ere we go.


Iíve never heard such a noisy group in all my ... !
Iíll tell you Mister Conductor, it confuses me.
Just donít be so noisy.
Itís a tender little ballad (h)ere weíre doing.
All right now.


Oh you fooled me that time, you did.
Ah youíre a little devil you are.
I thought you were pointin(g) at me, I did.
All right, everybody up for a good blow now.
(H)ere we go.

Feb 19, 2002
Bear Family Boxed Set

Dear Albert,
I am so happy and excited! Do you know what I mean?Ö Well, I am listening to an advance copy of the Belafonte Bear Family Box, which just arrived this morning. It came as a total and wonderful surprise! We have all been waiting for it for 3 long years Ö but I can say now that it was really worth it!
In the way of never-before-released songs, thereís Baby Darlin', a jazz-type number much along the lines of "Hello Everybody," and Melda Massi, a calypso in the "Come Back Liza" style. Also there are great new versions of Merci Bon Dieu, Hava Nageela, The Blues Is Man, When The Saints Go Marchiní In and Cu Cu Ru Cu Cu Paloma.
As regards the first recordings from 1949 and 1950, the quality of the Capitol masters is very good, while there is a little hiss in some Jubilee recordings and the Roost masters, but nevertheless the overall effect is quite enjoyable. I am listening to the collection very carefully and I am now part way into Record 5. 
It comes complete with a great book with lots of rare pictures and articles, as well as a detailed discography covering the period from 1949 to1957.
Well, I just could not wait to give you my first impressions and I will tell you more very soon.
Until next time, my best regards,
Carlo
PS : By the way, the "Sings Of The Caribbean" masters are in stereo!

Dear Carlo,
It was great to get your very upbeat first impressions. When I read the blurb on the Bear Family site I came away with the feeling that it would be quite a collectorís piece. From what you are now telling me, it more than lives up to that advance billing. Based on your very positive report I will now go ahead and order a copy.
Happy listening, Albnut

Feb 20, 2002
Most Wanted List

Dear Albnut,
After searching far and wide for the LP "Belafonte Sings of the Caribbean," I finally secured a copy through e-Bay. Thanks for the lead.
Bill

Dear Bill,
I really didn't do such an awful lot but I'm glad you were able to chase down that rare album from 1957. It has to be one of Harry's finest. Worthy of note is the fact that Mama Look At Boo Boo was a product of those same studio sessions but was only released on single. There probably just wasn't enough room for all that great music on one platter. Also of interest, back then, was the appearance of a companion songbook entitled "Belafonte, Songs Of The Caribbean." It offers words and music to two additional tunes, Calypso Carnival and Balancť. To this day I am convinced that he laid down tracks for both, with neither making the cut. So, buried deep inside the RCA vaults there still remain some undiscovered gems. Fortunately though, Belafonte saw fit to share his West Indian song chest with the Norman Luboff Choir who included both numbers in their "Calypso Holiday" set issued about the same time.
Kind regards, Albnut

Feb 21, 2002
Bear Family Box

Dear Albert,
When I wrote the other day I was still listening to the box. Then ... right at the end of the fifth CD I came across 4 really great surprises:
1) A different version of Fifteen with string orchestra. It is a real beauty and you will listen for yourself.
2) A new rendition of How Green Was My Valley. Harry shows a more mature voice and interpretation compared to the 1949 single on Capitol.
3) The Lord Is My Shepherd is of course a gospel, but not in the usual Belafonte style. Instead it's a melodic piece much like "Little Bernadette" and has a strings backing.
4) A different version of I'm Goin' Away, which is considerably different from the master we all know. A little less dramatic I would say.
All four tracks sound very much like the songs of "Love Is A Gentle Thing".
My kindest regards,
Carlo

Dear Carlo,
I am afraid you now have me all charged up! As you know, I have only recently placed my order for the set, and so will just have to wait it out. What a major coup for Bear Family! Do you know whether the Belafonte camp was on board? Otherwise how would Bear have gained access to all those alternate takes? I wonder whether even BMG (RCA), assuming it participated, would be free to turn over previously unreleased material without his consent.
Anyway, it appears that Bear has lived up to its glowing reputation. Belafonte must be very proud to have all of his early efforts brought together in such a fashion. He's been doing OK the past while, what with the seminal "Long Road" project finally seeing the light of day, and now the first 9 years of his recording career all nicely packaged.
Kind regards, Albnut

Feb 22, 2002
Bear Family Box

Dear Albert,
The truth of the matter is that Bear Family produces packages for collectors while acquiring the original masters and copyrights from the owners, usually the original Record labels. In this way they consistently put out every track available in chronological order and including all the unreleased recordings. Richard Weize (founder) is absolutely the best in the record business. I have never seen more accurate and complete packages.
The one mistake is with Jerry. They have confused the original single release with the alternate take. The controversy surrounds Man Piaba. Apparently the box includes only the master tapeÖbut it is not the version on the "Mark Twain" album and all other compilations. The problem is that the vocal sounds the same, but verses 3 and 4 are quite mixed up. Could it be that the master we all know is, in fact, an edited version? However I canít see any sense in doing an edit only to end up with the exact same length!! So?
Until next time, my best regards,
Carlo

Feb 27, 2002
Belafonte Concerts

Albnut,
Any idea if he's coming to Toronto or anywhere nearby this year? We could even go to Montreal. When I was really young, my Dad listened to Harry and, while I've always enjoyed his music, I'm liking the tunes more lately.
;-) Todd in Toronto

Dear Todd,
Good to hear from yet another Belafonte fan. As you know he just did Roy Thomson Hall in November so it is highly unlikely you will see him in Toronto any time soon. These days he is very caught up in his other pursuits and gives few concerts. At 75 years of age he is immensely popular and in constant demand.
Judy Paul at <www.belafonte-asiteofsites.com> is doing a fabulous job of tracking his movements so you should visit her site for regular updates. Warning! Keep those bags packed and be prepared to travel state-side to catch him where you can.
Kind regards, Albnut

Mar 8, 2002
Bear Family Box
Man Piaba

Dear Albert,
I am attaching a side-by-side display of the Man Piaba lyrics to show how the order of the verses is not the same on the original LP and the present Bear Family issue.
Regards, Carlo

Man Piaba

Man Piaba

"Mark Twain" LP Version

Bear Family Box Version

This song is dedicated to all the parents

This song is dedicated to all the parents

whose children have reached the age of curiosity.

whose children have reached the age of curiosity.

When I was a lad just three foot three

When I was a lad just three foot three

Certain questions occurred to me

Certain questions occurred to me

So I asked me father quite seriously

So I asked me father quite seriously

To tell me the story 'bout the bird and bee.

To tell me the story 'bout the bird and bee.

He stammered and he stuttered pathetic'ly

He stammered and he stuttered pathetic'ly

And this is what he said to me.

And this is what he said to me.

He said, "the woman piaba and the man piab'

He said, "the woman piaba and the man piab'

And the ton ton call baka lemon grass,

And the ton ton call baka lemon grass,

The lily root, gully root, belly root uhmmÖ

The lily root, gully root, belly root uhmmÖ

And the famous grandy scratch scratch."

And the famous grandy scratch scratch."

It was clear as mud but it covered the ground

It was clear as mud but it covered the ground

And the confusion made the brain go 'round.

And the confusion made the brain go 'round.

I went and asked a good friend of mine

I went and asked a good friend of mine

Known to the world as Albert Einstein.

Known to the world as Albert Einstein.

He said, "Son, from the beginning of time and creativity

He said, "Son, from the beginning of time and creativity

There existed the force of relativity,

There existed the force of relativity,

Pi r square and a minus ten means a routine only when,

Pi r square and a minus ten means a routine only when,

The solar system in one light year

The solar system in one light year

Make the Haydn Planetarium disappear.

Make the Haydn Planetarium disappear.

So if Mount Everest doesn't move

So if Mount Everest doesn't move

I am positive that it will prove,

I am positive that it will prove,

That the woman piaba and the man piab'

That the woman piaba and the man piab'

And the ton ton call baka lemon grass,

And the ton ton call baka lemon grass,

The lily root, gully root, belly root, uhmmÖ

The lily root, gully root, belly root, uhmmÖ

And the famous grandy scratch scratch."

And the famous grandy scratch scratch."

It was clear as mud but it covered the ground

It was clear as mud but it covered the ground

And the confusion made me brain go 'round,

And the confusion made me brain go 'round,

I grabbed a boat and I went abroad

I grabbed a boat and I went abroad

In Baden Baden asked Sigmund Freud.

In Baden Baden asked Sigmund Freud.

He said, "Son, from your sad face remove the grouch,

He said, "Son, from your sad face remove the grouch,

Put the body upon the couch,

Put the body upon the couch,

I can see from your frustration a neurotic sublimation.

I can see from your frustration a neurotic sublimation.

Hey, love and hate is psychosomatic,

Hey, love and hate is psychosomatic,

Your rorsach shows that you're a peripatetic.

Your rorsach shows that you're a peripatetic.

It all started with a broken sibling

It all started with a broken sibling

In the words of the famous Rudyard Kipling.

In the words of the famous Rudyard Kipling.

Hey, woman piaba and the man piab'

I've been over land and been oversea

And the ton ton call baka lemon grass,

Trying to find the answer 'bout the bird and bee

The lily root, gully root, belly root, uhmmÖ

But now that I am ninety-three

And the famous grandy scratch scratch."

I don't give a damn you see...

Hey, woman piaba and the man piab'

Well I traveled far and I traveled wide

And the ton ton call baka lemon grass,

And I don't even have meself a bride,

The lily root, gully root, belly root, uhmmÖ

All the great men upon this earth

And the famous grandy scratch scratch."

Have confused me since my birth.

I've been over land and been oversea

Well I traveled far and I traveled wide

Trying to find the answer 'bout the bird and bee

And I don't even have meself a bride,

But now that I am ninety-three

All the great men upon this earth

I don't give a damn you see...

Have confused me since my birth.

If the woman piaba and the man piab'

If the woman piaba and the man piab'

And the ton ton call baka lemon grass,

And the ton ton call baka lemon grass,

The lily root, gully root, belly root, uhmmÖ

The lily root, gully root, belly root, uhmmÖ

And the famous grandy scratch scratch.

And the famous grandy scratch scratch.

Mar 10, 2002
Tributes to Belafonte

Bonjour Albert,
I just visited your guest book, as I do quite regularly, and saw the October 4th entry. Surprisingly, I had not noticed it earlier even though I remember all the others! I just wanted to say that I agree that too few people know the world-wide sweep of Belafonteís ideas and actions. The fact that he is so discreet and classy contribute to that lack of knowledge. One of the advantages of the Internet is that people who are curious about him can now find such pages as yours and other fan sites. I cannot do a site, but some of my poems are inspired by him, and personally dedicated to him. You can find several on <www.Poetry.com> and if you think they might be of interest to your readers, you have my authorization to include them in tributes to him. The web copyrights are all given as 2002 but some go as far back as 1996. As for song requests, Harry told me several years ago that he cannot do that because there are just too many! However, in 97 in Baltimore, he came back on stage with a note in his hand, called a name and a little boy made his way to the front of the stage. He answered Harry's questions and then returned to his seat, at which point Harry proceeded to sing "Hava Nageela," a song I had not seen him perform in years! What a wonderful treat for that little boy, and the entire audience!!
Congratulations and thanks for all those guest book entries.
A bientot, and best regards,
Frederique

Bonjour Frederique,
There's absolutely no need to question either your memory or reading skills. You did not overlook the October 4th posting the first time around. Quite simply it was added after the fact when I reviewed that exchange and came to the realization that it contained heartfelt observations that should be shared with other Belafonte fans.
Merci infiniment pour avoir partagť, avec nous, tes oeuvres prťcieuses ainsi que tes rťflexions sur notre idole.
Kind regards, et ŗ la prochaine,
Albnut

Mar 14, 2002
Bear Family Box

Dear Albert,
The last couple of days have been occupied by listening to the new 5CD-box set. Despite the price it is a beauty - a real collector's item. The CDs give answers to some of our questions which have been up for discussion lately - the two 1952 versions of Man Smart, the chopped version of Island In The Sun and more. The hard-bound companion book is, in itself, a piece of documentary - a complete discography of the 120 songs included. Up Ďtil now I have only found a few minor errors - these only for the really hard-core fans to discuss. I hope to get your points of view when you have been through this set.
Best wishes, Jan

Mar 28, 2002
Meeting Belafonte

Dear Albert,
As promised I am sending along a little story about my very first Belafonte concert.
I hope you enjoy it.
Best wishes, Carlo

Paris, France Ė Nov 13, 1976
I have been a Harry Belafonte fan since 1956, when my father brought home the single "Banana Boat". At 9 years old I didnít know a word of English, but that sound captured my attention very strongly. I remember spending my evenings with the turntable beside my bed listening to that record again and again. Then came "Matilda" and "Island In The Sun" and all the others. We even had some of his shows on our television, but never the chance to see him live in concert.
Then he toured Italy in 1959 but I was still too young to go see an artist on stage, and so I could only dream about it. When I bought albums like the two Carnegie Hall concerts, I realized what a fantastic showman he also had to be. His live performances on record were so powerful that you could almost "see" him while listening.
To cut a long story short, in September of 1976 my friend in Paris called to say that Belafonte would be coming to the "Theatre des Champs-Elysťes" in November. This was to be his first European tour since 1959 and I would finally get to see him in concert.
I asked my friend to buy me the best seats available, no matter what the price. Calling back he announced, "OK, Carlo, I made your reservations." "Where is my seat, front row?" I asked. "I wonít tell you. You will just have to wait and see," he replied.
It was hard waiting all those weeks, but finally the date arrived. I went with my friends Tiziano and Nuccio, who shared with me his love for both Elvis and Harry. The afternoon before the show I was so excited that my friend Jean-Marc exclaimed, "You have already seen Elvis. Harry will surely be a good showman but he canít be better." "He will be as good as Elvis," I replied. "I know it from his live recordings. You should come to see for yourself." "No, I will drive you to the theatre but thatís all," he countered. "I know heís a good singer but Iím not mad about him like you." "OK Ö but you donít know what youíre missing," I replied.
On arrival at the theatre I still didnít know where we would be seated as it wasnít clear from the tickets. So I was absolutely thrilled when we were brought to our seats right in the middle of the first row. This placed us immediately in front of the main microphone and we could actually touch the stage with our knees! Wow! My friends and I would be the first members of the audience that Harry would see from the stage. My French friend had really understood how badly I wanted a good seat!
At last the magic moment arrived. The lights dimmed, the curtain opened and the orchestra started playing "Pastures Of Plenty." Then Harry came on stage in a black outfit and the show began. Next he did two new numbers, "Streets Of London" and "How Long Have You Been Blind?"
Act 1 continued on with : We Had It All / Island In The Sun / Merci Bon Dieu / a couple of songs by Rhetta Hughes / Try To Remember. Finally he closed the set with "New York Taxi" which included much clowning around.
During the intermission someone tapped me on the shoulder. Turning around I was quite surprised to see Jean-Marc. "Hey, I saw you so excited and convinced that, at the last minute, I decided to come," he explained. "You made me too curious Ö and you were right! Heís terrific! I couldnít believe he would be so good! My God, thank you Carlo for giving me the opportunity to see such a performer!"
"Whereís your seat?" I asked. "I only managed to find a place in the balcony, because itís all sold out, but I am really glad I came."
"We better not even attempt to see Harry after the show," I told my friends. "I tried in Las Vegas with Elvis and was so upset when it didnít happen. Letís just be happy that we have seen him on stage, OK?" I had experienced all the security and the barriers they had put between me and Elvis, so Harry couldnít be any different. After all, he was a superstar too.
Act 2 started off with "Going Down Jordan" Ė again very spectacular Ė followed by a very funny "Hole In The Bucket" with Falumi Prince and "Turn The World Around". Rhetta Hughes returned to sing a couple of songs. Then came the grand finale, "Banana Boat" and "Matilda," with much involvement of the audience.
With standing ovations and a big demand for encores, he came back to really close the show with "Jamaica Farewell."
Well, during the whole concert Tiziano and I cried out our appreciation until we remained voiceless and applauded until our hands burned. From time to time we saw Belafonte looking down at us with a smile and a sense of gratitude for our enthusiasm and participation.
When the show ended and all the lights were turned on, it was easy for me to be the first one to stand up and lend him my program for an autograph. Harry bent down toward me, kindly signed the program and said "Why donít you come and see me backstage, so we can know each other better and talk." I couldnít believe my ears. Harry Belafonte, the big star I had faithfully followed for twenty years, was telling me he wanted to know me better and talk to me! I almost jumped on stage but was stopped by security. "But Belafonte himself told me to go backstage" I exclaimed. "OK, but you canít do this now. Iíll show you where to go and you will wait there," the guard explained.
I was completely out of my mind and didnít know what I was doing. When I calmed down we were rejoined by Jean-Marc and together we went backstage. There were a dozen or so other people waiting and we suddenly realized that no one had thought to bring a camera.
After ten or fifteen minutes Harry appeared and greeted everybody. Soon he came our way, thanking us for our support during the show. He was sincerely pleased to learn that we had come from Italy just to see him and that we had been fans for so long. He said he liked Italy very much and had been there often, but only as a tourist. He added "You know, my wife worked for some time in Italy as a dancer and speaks a little Italian. I am sorry, but I canít say much more than Buongiorno, buonasera and ciao."
I asked him how it was that he liked Italy and yet he hadnít done a concert there. "Well, this is my first European tour in 15 years, and we just havenít found the right agent for Italy yet. But I think I will do more tours now, so maybe we will be there next year."
When Tiziano mentioned his family name was Bellagamba Harry smiled and joked "Oh, so we are almost relatives, you Belagamba and me Belafonte, there must be some roots in common."
A couple from Marseille wanted to know whether they could have their picture taken with Harry and he accepted. I immediately asked them if they would also take a photo of us with Harry and then send it to Italy. They kindly agreed but mentioned that the film was only black & white. To us it was just great that they could do it and we could have our picture with Harry at last. We took one and were ready to leave when Harry stopped us, "No, no, letís take another one just in case the first doesnít turn out well."
I went away walking on the clouds. Not only had I seen Harry Belafonte on stage for the first time, but beyond my wildest dreams I had actually met Harry Belafonte and talked to him like an old friend Ö and I hadnít done anything, he had done it all!
Carlo
PS- The following year we again got to see Belafonte in Paris. To our great surprise he immediately recognized us as his "Italian friends" when we went backstage after the concert.
It had been just a few months since Elvis passed away and I was still very sad. I donít know why but I just asked him, "Harry, have you ever met Elvis and what do you think about him?" Harry said, "Yes, a couple of times informally and he looked to be a very kind guy ... but to me he lived too wild a life." Then he stayed thoughtful for a few seconds and asked me, "Were you fans of his?" "Yes," I said and he held my shoulders tight as a sign of sympathy and added, "I am sorry heís no longer with us and I am sorry for you too."
With this second encounter I had not only become a super-fan of the artist, but of the man, a great warm and kind human being.

Apr 2, 2002
Bear Family Box
Man Piaba

Dear Carlo and Jan,
Here are just a few quick thoughts regarding the wayward verse in the various reissues of the Man Piaba recording from 1954.
Having been around and tuned into the music culture of the fifties, I am aware that certain recordings were blacklisted by radio stations due to the presence of, what might be considered, unacceptable language or subject matter. Therefore, I would not be at all surprised to discover that RCA had prepared an edited version of Man Piaba just in case there was a reaction to the use of the word "damn." That said, the "Mark Twain" LP was released in 1954 in the US and Canada and it contained the unabbreviated Piaba track, which included the word "damn." At the same time, it is of interest to note that the original Folkways music score substituted the less offensive word "darn" for "damn." The plot thickens!
More on this topic later.
Kind regards, Albnut

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