Apr 4, 2002
Disco Mix Oddity
Merci Bon Dieu
( Catalog # BMG 74321-157542-3)

Dear Friends,
Some Belafonte fans may not be aware of this but BMG France released a CD single of " Merci Bon Dieu " in 1993. It is the original studio master but overdubbed as disco music. There are 4 versions and 2 different arrangements (2 short, 2 long). As disco the result is quite acceptable, but of course it has nothing to do with the Belafonte style that we have all come to know and love. It is truly an official release but, needless to say, unauthorized by Belafonte. There are no accompanying liner notes.
Ciao, Carlo

Apr 10, 2002
Bear Family Box

Dear Carlo and Jan,
Well I finally managed to get through the boxed set and agree with both of you that it's nothing short of a class act ! They haven't missed a lick - great write-ups (even shedding light on a few historical aspects with which I was unfamiliar), great pictures, great artwork/graphics, great printing, great packaging, and (ignoring one little glitch) great re-mastering !
In terms of tracks that have not previously been introduced on this site, my tally is 13 (out of 112 total). This is explained by way of the attached tabulation which will appear under "Compacts."
A few highlights :
1) Chiminey Smoke, Track 17, CD 1
Just a minor point for the historical record. Although it is not to be found any dictionary, the word "chiminey" is spelled precisely the way Harry pronounces it throughout the song.
2) Kukla-Mu, Track 2, CD 2
What a pleasant surprise! This track comes through very strong and vibrant in comparison to the original which was only available on 45 promo.
3) The Fox, Track 9, CD 2
Good, the horn intro (missing on some compilations) is intact.
4) Man Piaba, Track 18, CD 2
LP Version (1954) - The "punchline" is placed at the end, exactly where you would expect to find it (and where it appears in those old song books, for that matter).
3CD Version (2000) - The "punchline" (12 seconds of verse) is edited out completely. But why?
Bear Version (2002) - The "punchline' mysteriously reappears, but in a different position. The marvels of digital technology at work? But why?
5) Melda Massi, Track 18, CD 3
It's too bad that Irving Burgie (aka Lord Burgess) is no longer around to keep us from making such errors. The correct title is "Lemme Go, Melda Marcy." It's the same song he did on Ed Sullivan way back then. Great tune and unique interpretation.
6) Merci Bon Dieu, Track 25, CD 3
I think I almost prefer this take to the one that made it onto the LP. They are both superb but this one has just a touch more gusto.
7) Fifteen, Track 16, CD 5
Carlo you were right, this recording is a "thing of sheer beauty" ... absolutely stunning! The symphonic orchestration takes it over the top!
Please let me know if I have missed or mangled anything. Something tells me we haven't closed the book on this discussion.
Best wishes, Albnut
PS :
No one should read too much into these minor criticisms. Bear Family has truly succeeded in setting a new standard of excellence for such anthologies. Any serious Belafonte fan should not miss out on the opportunity to acquire this superb collection.
Then, just sit back with that big colorful book and enjoy all the marvelous music!
Albnut

Apr 12, 2002
Bear Family Box

Dear Albert,
I am very pleased to see that you also found the minor errors in the discography from the German 5CD box set. More precisely:
Book page 80 - 81:
Track 020. E2VB 6868-A, Jerry (This Timber Got To Roll)
Info that this track was released on single 20/47-4892 should be transferred to:
Track 024. E2VB 6868-2
As we all know, track 020 was previously released on German LP "Rare Belafonte", only.
Book page 84
Track 104. H2PB 1274-5A, Cocoanut Woman
To my knowledge the full length version was never issued on single 20/47-6885. The 2 different 47-6885 "45"-singles in my collection - US print and Danish print - contain the abridged version, only. But maybe the "78" release 20-6885 did contain the full length version?
Also tracks 100 and 101 have the exact same matrix-numbers as tracks 103 and 104, correct although different takes?
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Jan :-)

Apr 15, 2002
Bear Family Box

Dear Albert,
During the week-end I was finally able to listen to the Man Piaba track closely and what a fatal error ! It must be something associated with digitalisation for remastering, where everything is split up in numeral bits. Then maybe a wrong input from the computer mixed up some of the lines. Correct remastering of the song is found on CD "All Time Greatest Hits Vol. 3" which you already know, I am sure.
Best wishes, Jan

Apr 16, 2002
Melda Marcy

Readers,
I found the words to Lemme Go, Melda Marcy in an old song book by William Attaway. However, they are quite different from the those on the Bear set. So I
¯listened to the man, attentively¯ while faithfully transcribing the lyrics for the Belafonte version, this for the benefit of those who may wish to sing along. On hearing the recording you will note that the refrain was previously used, with slightly altered wording, in the 1954 single "Hold 'Em Joe." This practice of borrowing both verse and chorus lines from other songs was quite common amongst calypsonians. The Tarriers did precisely that with "The Banana Boat Song" and "Hill and Gully Rida" and the combination went head-to-head with Belafonte's "Day-O" on the charts in 56 - 57. Actually there's much more to that story but let's save it for another occasion.
Enjoy, Albnut
PS - According to Attaway, "Melda Marcy" is a popular comical name in Jamaican folklore.

Lemme Go, Melda Marcy
(As found on the Bear Family Box Set)

Well I cried all night, not a policeman was in sight.
When Imelda get up off the bed-a, she start to play with my finger head-a.
I cried out " Stop it, Melda I ticklish, don’t play with my finger. "

" Lemme go Melda Marcy, you’re bitin’ my finger. "
" Lemme go Melda Marcy, you’re bitin’ my finger. "
" Lemme go Melda Marcy, you’re bitin’ my finger. "
" Lemme go Melda Marcy, you’re bitin’ my finger. "

She said, " Daddy don’t groan, I’m going to bite you down to the bone. "
I felt no pain so what was the use to go and complain.
I felt no pain so what was the use to go and complain.

I cried out, " Lemme go Melda Marcy, you’re bitin’ my finger. "
" Lemme go Melda Marcy, you’re bitin’ my finger. "
" Lemme go Melda Marcy, you’re bitin’ my finger. "
" Lemme go go-go-go Melda Marcy, you’re bitin’ my finger. "

She said, " Daddy it’s no use, the finger taste like pineapple juice. "
The louder I shout, the more finger Melda put in her mouth.
The louder I shout, the more finger Melda put in her mouth.
I cried out " Stop it, Melda I ticklish, not with the finger. "

" Lemme go Melda Marcy, you’re bitin’ me finger. "
" Lemme go Melda Marcy, you’re bitin’ my finger. "
" Lemme go Melda Marcy, you’re bitin’ my finger. "
" Lemme go go-go-go Melda Marcy, you’re bitin’ my finger. "

Well I cried all night, not a policeman was in sight.
When Emelda get up off the bed-a, she start to play with my finger head.
I cried out " Stop it, Melda I ticklish, don’t play with me finger. "

" Lemme go Melda Marcy, you’re bitin’ my finger. "
" Lemme go oh Melda Marcy, you’re bitin’ my finger. "
" Lemme go Melda Marcy, you’re bitin’ my finger. "
" Lemme go Melda Marcy, you’re bitin’ my finger. "

Apr 29, 2002
Cockney Air, Closer Scrutiny

Dear Albert,
Regarding "The Drummer And The Cook" I have a further observation on the line " With one eye on the pot and the other up the chimney. " Listening to it carefully I don’t think he says " other " but something else.

Dear Carlo,
I am not sure that this adequately addresses your question but here goes. You are absolutely correct, the word " other " comes out as "tother, " probably Cockney slang. In my view it is a combining of the words " the " and " other, " which would more properly be written " t’other. " With that reasoning the first " the " would appear to be redundant and yet the line would sound incomplete without it.
While we are on the subject, a couple of additional points :
In the " Evening " version, " fa la la la dee dee bow wow wow " becomes " fa la la la dee dee fall dall derall. "
Also one verse is introduced with the phrase " everybody up for a good blow there. " I take this to be an appropriate quip for a band that has been practicing for some time and takes a well-deserved break. The conductor then urges the members to give the " reprise " their best shot. This would especially apply if the group were largely made up of musicians playing wind instruments.
Kind regards, Albnut

June 3, 2002
The Man

Ciao Albnut,
I have known Carlo since 1971. We met thanks to the love we have for Elvis, but from that very moment we also started sharing our admiration for Harry. I'll always be grateful to him for making me discover the "many moods & faces" of Belafonte.
During these last years I have been working and living in the Far East and when I came back to Torino, a few months ago, I again had the chance to sit, talk and enjoy with Carlo our Music. During relaxed evenings he told me about his collaboration with you and the words he used to describe your "work and passion" were so colourful that, knowing him so well, I was impressed. Well, today I finally visited the site and now, I tell you, I have to complain to Carlo as he hasn't been "colourful" enough ... beautiful job! "Belafonte Tracks" deserves the Oscar of sites!! 
Never could I have imagined such a complete, exhaustive and, let's say, "surgically detailed" inventory of the artistry of Mr. Harry Belafonte, the musician, the actor, and the Man. Thanks to you and your close collaborators, those who appreciate Harry can now, with a simple "www," dive into his artistic life and broaden their knowledge about this incomparable, gifted and multi-talented human being. I am conscious that I can't compete with Carlo's knowledge, but perhaps I can share feelings and memories of the beautiful moments we spent with Harry during the backstage hours he always granted us.
I read Carlo's report about our first encounter with Harry, back in November 1976 at the "Théatre des Champs Elysées" (Paris). While doing so I recalled those exciting moments when we couldn't believe our own senses. Hey, we were there with Harry Belafonte, and he was talking with us as if we had known each other since our youth! Ah, what an evening! How could we ever forget it ? And how many times did we narrate and repeat each single second of that meeting to our friends and wives ? And that was only the first of many such opportunities.
Carlo, what about backstage in Lausanne (Switzerland), where he stayed with us more than the time he can usually devote to fans, and requested his escort to take my camera and shoot all those pictures while we were sitting and talking? And what about that incredible night in Stuttgart (Germany) when he first invited us to join him in his suite at the Intercontinental Hotel, preferring to have dinner with us and our wives until three in the morning, instead of joining all the VIPs waiting for him in the lobby. How astonished and proud we were! I remember wondering if I had understood correctly when he said "Why don't we dine together?" Then turning towards Harold Melvin (road manager), "Hey, Harold, you go meet the personalities, I prefer to stay here with my friends!" Wow, I really couldn't believe my ears! Harry Belafonte was referring to us as "friends" with the sincerity and simplicity of a real friend. This has been a gift we will always be immensely proud of.
Readers of "Belafonte Tracks", we are all sharing our human emotions through the cyber world. Welcome to all of you and Viva Harry Belafonte!
Tiziano Bellagamba

Dear Tiziano,
It's first person reminiscences such as yours that take "Tracks" beyond a mere reference manual of factual data. Thanks so much for sharing your cherished memories with all of us Belafonte fans.
Kind regards, Albnut

June 15, 2002
Jump Up Calypso


Dear Albert
I was not aware of the alternate tracks on the "Jump Up Calypso" CD. What I do have in my collection though is a Japanese 3 CD set titled "Harry Belafonte in Calypso," RCA/BMG catalog number BVCP-8001~03. It comes in a book-shaped box containing three original CDs: "Calypso", "Jump Up Calypso" and "Calypso Carnival." Released in 1993, you would expect them to be identical to the US versions, but not so. The "Jump Up Calypso" CD is an exact reproduction of the original album (no alternate recordings).
Kind regards, Hans-Peter in Germany

Dear Hans-Peter,
Your 3 CD collection is also unique in that it contains "Calypso Carnival" which is not available on compact disc in any other reissue, as far as I know. Thanks so much for the information.
Kind regards, Albnut

June 17, 2002
Abridged Tracks

Dear Albert,
Looking through "Standards Revisited", I found some missing parts, although this could be by intention. The promotional LP "Belafonte Air Play Special" for example contains some edited (abridged) versions which are not listed - a 2:26 edit of "Midnight Special" and a 2:25 edit of "Gotta Travel On". But maybe you only concentrated on what was available commercially. That leads me to the question if you are planning to include information about promotional releases in your website.
Kind regards, Hans-Peter

Dear Hans-Peter,
As regards the "Belafonte Airplay Special" LP, I excluded the edited tracks as they were not official releases. However, had some been alternate takes I would have included them in the discography. That said, there are some official releases of edited tracks that do appear. One example is the "Cocoanut Woman" single which is simply the LP track with the last part of the scat lead-out chopped off. My justification is that these two "versions" have lived on as distinct and official tracks for 45 years. But you are absolutely correct, I'll have to create a separate page to introduce such recordings. What do you mean when you say promotional releases? Are these mostly promo singles that were eventually issued officially?
Kind regards, Albnut

June 18, 2002
Promos & Remixes

Dear Albert,
Promotional releases should include promo singles (which often have edited versions or mono/stereo mixes of the same song on both sides), and promotional LPs like "Air Play Special" or the 1 LP "O'Keefe" performance with edited versions, not to forget "The Many Sides Of Belafonte." There are also to my knowledge two promotional CD singles, and maybe more. This is just a suggestion, but information like that would nicely round up that great website.
Kind regards, Hans-Peter

Dear Hans-Peter,
The following thoughts represent my personal point of view on the subject. I do see a rational for including remixes on the site but not necessarily edits. This topic has already been addressed at some length in the "Guest Book." Basically it comes down the question, "Why would anyone want to listen to anything less than the full track?" Unless some new dimension has been added, such as with remixes, maybe it's best not to draw attention to these shortened versions. I understand there are several disco remixes of "Merci Bon Dieu" out there that were issued in France and these would certainly qualify. However, at the moment, I cannot see an argument for adding these (either edits or remixes) to the tally of "original" tracks which presently stands at 515. Just by way of clarification I should mention that "Belafonte Tracks" does not introduce compilation albums unless they include previously unreleased material. Even "LPs" that have been remastered and reissued on CD are left out. I mention this only so that you understand the guidelines established to build the site.
Kind regards, Albnut
PS-
I just ran a quick check on the other 2 LPs and here's what I found:
The "O'Keefe" 1LP has 3 edited tracks as follows-
Out De Fire at 2:15 (vs. 11:13), Wedding Song at 3:53 (vs. 4:20), and Carnival Medley
at 5:34 (vs. 17:20).
As it turns out the "Many Sides" LP actually doesn't have any edited tracks. All 12 songs check for length with the designated original recordings.
I also looked at my copy of the "Air Play Special" LP and came up with the following edits:
Zombie Jamboree - Highlight #1 (Music) at 2:30 (vs. 16:45), Zombie Jamboree - Highlight #1 (Audience Participation) at 2:32 (vs. 16:45), Grizzly Bear at 2:30 (vs. 3:27), Did You Hear About Gerry at 2:26 (vs. 2:52), Sweetheart From Venezuela at 2:12 (vs. 3:28), and finally Gotta Travel On at 2:25 (vs. 4:20).

June 18, 2002
Jubilee Sessions, Mystery Persists

Reply to "All Eyes"
Curiously, there are no precise dates for the sessions that yielded "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes" and "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes." We all like to believe that these jazz/pop songs were recorded at the Jubilee studios following Belafonte's stint with Capitol Records (1949) but that has never been substantiated (not even by Bear Family who, by the way, has done a super job on the Belafonte box covering the first decade of his recording career). Oddly enough the other four Jubilee tracks are not pop tunes at all, but somewhat mystical ballads (precursors to his imminent transformation from jazz/pop to folk singer?).
I have been collecting Belafonte recordings and memorabilia since 1954. Unfortunately this was not quite early enough to take in his venture into the jazz/pop field (Roost, Capitol and Jubilee). Like everyone else I have had to rely on tidbits that show up in Arnold Shaw's unauthorized biography and a myriad of other publications. Shaw makes absolutely no mention of the Jubilee sides, nor does any other source for that matter. I skirt around the issue in "Rambles" on this site as does Bear Family in its recently released 5 CD set.
Best regards, Albnut

June 22, 2002
Mr. Bojangles

Dear Albert,
I have just checked part of your "Standards Revisited" entries. I think there is another studio version of "Mr. Bojangles" that shows up on the Time/Life box "Legendary Singers". The intro is different and the orchestral arrangement is slightly faster than the version on "By Request." The time clocks in at 3:50 instead of 4:47. Could you please check to find out if this is true?
Kind regards, Hans-Peter

Dear Hans-Peter,
The "Bojangles" alternate recording sounds very exciting and I'm sure you are absolutely correct in your conclusions. Unfortunately I do not have the boxed set you refer to but will begin searching for it. As you know my driving force has been to concentrate on original issues. This has sometimes gotten me into trouble as alternate takes occasionally popped up on compilation albums. Fortunately guys like Jan, Carlo and yourself have been kind enough to bring such oversights to my attention. Many thanks for the "heads-up."
Kind regards, Albnut


June 28, 2002
John Henry

Dear Readers,
Here is an article I have been intending to share with you for the longest while.
Albnut
 

Remembering John Henry, Steel-drivin’ Man
(Montreal Gazette, 9 December 1998)
A century-old riddle in the ballad of John Henry, the legendary black rail-road man who was so strong he could work faster than a machine, may have been solved by a College of William and Mary history professor who stumbled upon a clue on the Internet. A reference in the song to the "White House" has puzzled historians and folklorists for years because they thought it meant the presidential White House. An early version ends with this verse:

They took John Henry to the White House
And they buried him in the san’
And every locomotive come roarin’ by
Says there lays that steel-drivin’ man
Says there lays that steel-drivin’ man

Scott Nelson, an assistant professor of history at William and Mary, said he often hummed the ballad while researching Civil War-era railroad companies, which used forced labour. The steel-driving men, who drove rods into rock to create dynamite pockets, were an integral part of the process.
Nelson knew that prisoners from the Virginia state penitentiary had been used to blast tunnels through the Appalachian mountains, and he searched the Internet for a picture of the Richmond prison, which was built before the Civil War. In early November, he found a hand-coloured postcard of the prison that showed a white machine shop or barracks nearby.
"The Lyrics were going off in my head and then, there in the middle of my screen, is a big white house", he said. "It all clicked together. It wasn’t my plan to talk about John Henry as a convict, but it came together. It suddenly all made sense. Local knowledge among prisoners was not the White House in Washington, but the white house at the penitentiary," he said. "When they said someone was going to the white house, they meant someone was going to get buried."
In 1990, the state closed the penitentiary. Three years later, workers digging a drainage field found skulls and bones at the rear of the property. Katharine Beidleman, the archaeologist on the project, was amazed. Her research had not indicated any burial grounds. But excavation over a three month period turned up the remains of about 300 men, women and children. Records were found that listed women, as well as children as young as 10, as prisoners.
The remains were sent to the Smithsonian Institute. Doug Owsley, head of the forensic anthropology division in the National Museum of Natural History, said preliminary findings indicate that black and white men were buried in the unmarked graves, along with a few women, infants and children. Among them were "very robust individuals," Owsley said, "but without a physical description or a picture, it’s unlikely anyone will ever know if John Henry was in the mass grave."
Nelson said he believes John Henry was one of the hundreds of black prisoners rented to the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad in 1871 to build the Big Bend Tunnel at Talcott, in southern West Virginia. There are many variations of the ballad. Nelson used what is believed to be the earliest published version, which says John Henry died when he accidentally struck himself with his hammer after he had bested a steam drill in a contest. If so, Nelson said, John Henry was among the 10 per cent who were injured or killed on the Big Bend job that year. The dead were sent along with the injured back to prison for burial. Newspapers at the time reported a scandal : burying prisoners at the jail instead of in a "decent" burial ground. The city council moved to buy land for a cemetery outside the city in 1877.
(Linda Wheeler, Washington Post)

June 28, 2002
Sing Along with Harry

Bonsoir Albert!
Just to let you know that, following your enthusiastic discussions about the Bear Family set with Carlo, Jan and others, I just could not resist the temptation any longer. I received it this afternoon and, at the very beginning of CD1, I suddenly realized I had heard that "new young singer" in 1949 when I first lived in America. I had liked his voice, and was very impressed by what I recognized tonight as "Recognition." As it turns out I've been searching for it for the past 42 years without even realizing I had known it during that short stay in the US!! I did not remember the name of the "new young singer," because I left the States in 1950 and only returned (for good) in 1955. At that point my husband and I became ardent fans of Harry Belafonte (again, without knowing he was the same singer) and began attending his concerts. I'm pleased to say that I’m going again next week and will have first row seats. I can hardly wait for that event, probably my 25th but then I have stopped counting!
PS -
Will someone please let me know what "Marcy" means in Jamaican Creole. It’s my maiden name, and a very old French last name!
Bonsoir, Frederique

Update -
Not only did Frederique get to see Harry in concert but, on a foray into the audience, he persuaded her to sing a few lines of Jamaica Farewell. She summed up the experience with the words, "quelle soirée inoubliable" and proceeded to pen the following poem in his honour.

Merci mon Dieu
De nous avoir donné Harry.
Protégez-le en tout lieu,
Bénissez notre chéri.
Merci mon Dieu
De nous avoir donné Harry!
He is the peripatetic, benevolent, septuagenarian singer
Who has always given his all for the pleasure of others.
He continues to travel the world with compassion
For the children of wars, disease, malnutrition,
As he pleads their case to more fortunate nations.
He is striving to make the world a better
Place as a human being, an artist, a peacemaker.
Merci mon Dieu
De nous avoir donné Harry.
Protégez-le en tout lieu,
Bénissez notre chéri.
Merci mon Dieu
De nous avoir donné Harry!

(Copyright 2002)

July 5, 2002
Discovering Caribbean Music

Dear Albert,
As requested here it is, my story.
In 1957, at the age of 12, I heard my very first calypso song while visiting a local record-shop. It was " The Banana Boat Song " by The Fontane Sisters. I quite liked it as it sounded so different from what I was used to - very melodic and ear-catching. However it was not until a couple of months later that I got really hooked. It was a different version of " Day-O, " this time by a Danish/Dutch couple called Nina & Frederik. In July of 1957 they suddenly popped up from nowhere and became an overnight sensation. Frederik had studied in Trinidad and upon his return to Denmark met his childhood girlfriend Nina and they began singing together just for fun. They soon got in contact with a small Danish record company and in no time had three EPs in shop windows all over the country. All became smash hits. Nina & Frederik had style, class, a new sound, and by Christmas of that same year they had recorded a version of " Mary’s Boy Child. " It quickly became a classic not only in Denmark and Scandinavia but in the UK, as well as other countries. I became a great admirer and still am to this day. Up until then nobody here had heard of Harry Belafonte.
That changed in the spring of 1958 when a few Belafonte EPs appeared at my local record shop. The first one that caught my attention was an exotic looking EP cover from the album " Belafonte Sings Of The Caribbean " containing the beautiful ballad " Haiti Cherie. " Still living at home with only a small weekly allowance, it was rather difficult to keep up with the record issues that followed. But by Christmas I got the " Calypso " album which was played so much that it almost drove my parents crazy.
By early 1958 RCA had established their own company in Europe. Prior to that they had been represented by His Master’s Voice but after the break-up HMV retained the copyright in Europe to the dog-logo, leaving RCA to design their own label. Over the next few years I was kept busy buying records - EPs and singles which were within reach and the more expensive LPs for Christmas and birthdays.
In 1961 I graduated from school and got my first paying job. It took me some months to collect the recordings I had not been able to acquire earlier. At that time RCA in Denmark had stopped pressing their records here and everything came from Germany. It was the beginning of stereo sound. In 1964 I obtained a copy of the Schwann catalog and came to realize what I was missing. Not only by Belafonte but also artists introduced by him such as Odetta, Miriam Makeba, The Chad Mitchell Trio and others. I tried to have a Copenhagen record shop import LP-albums for me but they were not allowed because of the dog-logo ! ! Everything had to go through the Danish office which would refer to the German albums. Meanwhile I came across the name Sam Goody, a large shop in Manhattan N.Y. which did mail-orders. It was an expensive and very slow process but that way I got exactly what I wanted. I ordered the early albums in electronically reprocessed stereo as the mono versions had since been deleted. Later I did manage to pick up second hand copies in the original format. In the sixties Belafonte released about one album a year so it became much easier to keep up. In the seventies his releases tapered off as did sales but I remained faithful. And in 1977 I attended my first concert in Copenhagen and haven’t missed one since.
Once I was invited to a press conference (1981) with Harry Belafonte and Letta Mbulu. On that occasion both artists were so kind as to sign several LP-albums I had brought along. Then, while they were busy meeting the press, I had the most wonderful talk with Belafonte’s wife, Julie. Definitely an afternoon to be remembered !
Best wishes, Jan

July 6, 2002
In Pursuit of Belafonte's Tracks

Thank you for putting up this great Harry Belafonte site. I was also looking for "Yellow Bird" by Belafonte, but read your response to "Anon" in the Guest Book. I had suspected for some time that he never did it. I have obtained a lot of Harry Belafonte's tracks (about 130 or so) and thought I had them all. Looks like I've got a bit more shopping to do.
Thanks again, David C. Bly

Hello David,
Thank you for taking the time to say hello and register your impressions.
Kind regards, Albnut

July 19, 2002
Quiet Room

Dear Albert,
I stumbled upon your Harry Belafonte Guest Book as I was searching for the album "In My Quiet Room." Any idea where I might find a copy?
Bill Weigle

Dear Bill,
As usual your best bet is eBay. The LP Quiet Room comes up for auction fairly often and attached is the latest listing. Unfortunately this particular album has not been remastered on CD. Good to hear from you and please let me know how you make out.
Kind regards, Albert

July 24, 2002
Belafonte Live Now

Dear Jan,
I have a question and of course I know exactly where to go for the answer. Have I missed a beat? Is the 2LP set titled "Belafonte Live Now," RCA SR 6077, and supposedly released in 1972, an original recording? I always thought it was a pre-release of the 1974 set "Belafonte ... Live!"
Kind regards, Albnut

Dear Albert,
I am now able to give you some information about the 2LP set "Belafonte Live Now," SR 6077/1-2,  released by RCA Records in Germany in 1972. Apart from some minor differences it seems to be the same as the US/Canadian release "Belafonte....Live," VPSX-6077, also issued in 1972 (not 1974 as you mention). Matrix-numbers on all 4 sides are the same, being APRS-8821/22/23/24, therefore I guess that the same master-tape has been used, and so content should be identical. The gatefold cover has the same artwork/photos as on US/Canadian release, only the German issue has a glossy cover. Neither cover nor record-labels inform about Dynaflex system, so I guess the German release has not used it. Maybe that explains the different code-letters, SR instead of VPSX?
The very best wishes from a sunny Copenhagen, 
Jan

July 25, 2002
Colgate Hour, Holiday in Trinidad

Reply to "Tallyman"-
I’m afraid we don’t have all the facts on the October 2, 1955 telecast of NBC’s " Colgate Variety Hour, " but we’ll certainly share what we do know. It appears that leading up to the show Belafonte had planned on doing a folk-blues story built around John Henry the steel-driving man. But early in September his friend William Attaway introduced him to Lord Burgess (Irving Burgie), a calypsonian living in New York who had assembled and adapted a collection of traditional songs from the islands. Belafonte was so impressed that he abruptly changed his mind, opting to go with an all-calypso theme for Colgate which he called " Holiday in Trinidad. " According to author Arnold Shaw it featured Banana Boat (Day-O), The Jack-Ass Song, Come Back Liza and Hosanna. It is interesting to note that the show no sooner aired and he was in the RCA studios laying down tracks for the LP "Calypso," and these four numbers were amongst those that made the cut.
Some sources suggest that Belafonte, as guest star, made another appearance during the remaining 40 minute segment, this time singing " Unchained Melody. " It happened to be a very popular number at the time but in no way associated with the material performed in the Caribbean set which, as a matter of interest, was entirely under Belafonte’s control.
If one were to pick the defining moment in Belafonte's career, the Colgate appearance would have to be it. What followed was a prolific collaboration between Belafonte, Burgie and Attaway and a distinctive new sound that swept the nation. And to think that the decision to go with an all-Caribbean theme was a last-minute thing!
Sources:
1) Harry Belafonte, An Unauthorized Biography, by Arnold Shaw, 1960
Chapter 20, Reluctant King of Calypso, See p. 229, 230
2) Harry Belafonte, Singer & Actor, by Genia Fogelson, 1980
Same information as Shaw with respect to " Colgate. "
3) Harry Belafonte, Island in the Sun
Bear Family Records, 2001, 5 CD Boxed Set (1949 to 1957)
Hardcover companion book contains liner notes, a discography and historical facts. Provides further information on "Colgate" and the selling job that Belafonte did at RCA to clear the way for the Calypso album.
Kind regards, Carlo and Albnut

July 30, 2002
Belafonte Talk

Dear Albert,
I think that the "Guest Book" is a treasury of hidden information. By that I mean that there is no sign that this kind of detail - sources of bootleg recordings, deviation of lyrics, edited versions and so on - can be found there. To my understanding this information, which is of great value to collectors, deserves a more prominent place on your website.
Kind regards, Hans-Peter

Dear Hans-Peter,
Your point about the "Guest Book" is well taken. I hoped from the start that it would turn into a place where serious Belafonte fans would exchange information and this is precisely what has happened. Maybe it's time for a name change. I should mention, though, that the main site is continually updated to reflect this input. Such is not the case for bootleg recordings as there is no page that addresses this category at present.
PS-
I am very pleased to now be getting input from Germany where Belafonte has such a huge following. Germany is one of only three countries, other than the USA of course, that have released original Belafonte recordings (the other two being Sweden and Japan).
Kind regards, Albnut

Aug 5, 2002
Dutch TV

Hello Albnut,
Your site is one of the most enjoyable on Belafonte I've seen on the net. What an incredible amount of information. I really enjoyed your television section and didn't know he had been on TV that much. I would have loved to see the concert shown on Italian TV back in 1988 but sadly we could only receive Raiuno (the first net) and not Raidue. I live in the Netherlands and want to add a short concert registration that was aired on Dutch TV in 1988. Belafonte appeared in the "Danny Kaye Award" show that was organized by Unicef in the RAI building in Amsterdam a couple of times. On this particular occasion, he performed the following songs:
We are the Wave; Paradise in Gazankulu; Skin to Skin; Kwela; Day-O (Banana Boat); Global Carnival
All were sung live with the band, however he chose to use the arrangements from the Paradise in Gazankulu studio sessions, and consequently the interpretations are almost identical to the ones on the album.
Keep up the good work,
Regards, Menno in The Netherlands

Dear Menno,
Nice to hear from you and many thanks for the information on the Dutch TV appearance. Look for it in the next update of "Tracks."
Kind regards, Albnut

Aug 23, 2002
Bear Family Set

Dear Sirs,
I am a 63 years old man living in Turkey. I have been at the Carnegie Hall concert in the Sixties. Would you please let me know how I can obtain the 5 CD set which includes " Belafonte sings of the Caribbean. " Your response is kindly requested.
Best Regards.
Ihsan

Dear Ihsan,
It is great to hear from a Belafonte fan who has been following his career for so long. Carnegie Hall must have been quite a treat. I caught him at the O'Keefe in Toronto in the fall of 1960 and it was spectacular. You can purchase the Bear Family 5 CD set directly online at :

<www.bear-family.de/index_english.htm>

It's a great collection which takes in all of Harry's recordings covering the first 9 years of his singing career and includes a number of alternate takes never before released.
Good luck with your search and kind regards,
Albnut

Sept 19, 2002
LP Special Editions

Ciao Albert,
Yesterday I quickly went through my LP collection and wanted to draw your attention to a few special editions. These are :
1) LP RCA LOP-1006, Belafonte Sings The Blues
This release has a black leather frame all around the cover with the same picture as found on the regular issue. On the side ridge the LP title and references are written in silver print. The label is black with Nipper on top and the words " New Orthophonic Hi-Fi. "
2) LP RCA SPS-33-572, Belafonte Live
It’s a promo, not-for-sale, sampler of the Toronto 1972 concert. The LP sleeve is black, no pictures, with the writing, " Special edited version of new 2-LP set VPSX-6077. " It includes all the numbers performed by Harry but none by his guests.
3) LP Set RCA LSO-6006-45, Belafonte at Carnegie Hall, Special 45 Edition
This is a boxed set of 8 single-sided pressings on 180gr virgin vinyl from Classic Records. The box is black and simply carries a sticker with the inscription, "Belafonte At Carnegie Hall, The complete concert, 45 RPM Set, Living Stereo." Inside there's a double sheet with the cover art from the original album. Each record is protected with a white sleeve stored in a black cover whose contents are identified with a white label. I must say the sound is more than superb, incomparable and better by far than any CD!
4) LP RCA 430271, Belafonte a Paris
I have included a scan of this album mostly because of the interesting cover. The songs therein are the usual ones, so nothing new.
Ciao, Tiziano

Dear Tiziano,
I keep hearing about that blues album with the leather frame but had previously only seen it on eBay. As for " Belafonte Live, " I’ve come across it in used vinyl shops but decided to pass at the time. I have since changed my mind about the importance of these two releases and will be actively searching for them in my travels. With your rave review the 45 rpm Carnegie set has just shot to the top of my wish list.
Kind regards, Albnut

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