June 22, 2007

Dec 3, 2005
"Tarrytown” (1958), Long Lost Lyric

Hello,
I beg your pardon for my written English but I'm a Dutch guy and it has been 45 years ago I learned this language at school. Within 2 years my wife and myself are married for 40 years and 40 years ago I heard a song but I don't know who sings it. I remember the following phrases:

“In Tarrytown she did well,
A lovely girl, I knew her well,
I adored her ... and remembered me,
With the … she is growing over me.
We were young and love was grand,
I gave her kisses on her hand.
She left me, for he …
Had gold and money more than me.”


I cannot remember the rest but hope that you can help me with this lovely song and melody.
Louis, The Netherlands  

Dear Louis,
Nice to again hear from the Netherlands with its huge Belafonte following. It appears you have browsed this site and so you must suspect that Harry recorded the song in question. If you visit the "Singles RCA" page you will find a reference to the "Tarrytown" single by him, but there's no sound clip or lyric. So the words follow as part of this message.
Seasons greetings to you and your wife,
Kind regards, Albnut

Tarrytown by John Allison
(As sung by Harry Belafonte)  

In Tarrytown, there did dwell
A lovely girl I knew her well
I courted her on bended knee
Until she said that she would marry me

Wide and deep my grave will be
With the wild goose grasses growing over me
Wide and deep my grave will be
With the wild goose grasses growing over me

We were young and love was grand
I gave her kisses, held her hand
We walked along the little way
And talked of when would be our wedding day

Wide and deep my grave will be
With the wild goose grasses growing over me

An alehouse stands in Tarrytown
And now my love she dances 'round
She sits upon another's knee
For he has gold and silver more than me
 

Hello Albert,
Thanks a lot. I am so glad with your answer because now I can sing this lovely song when we are married for 40 years. It shall be an amusing surprise for my wife, but I am not sure if I can wait so long! Wish me strength!
Kind regards,
Louis  

Dear Louis,
Your wife might be interested in learning the female lyric as follows.
Kind regards, Albnut  

In Tarrytown, there did dwell
A weaver’s son I loved him well
He courted me both night and day
And then with me he would no longer stay

When I wore my apron low
He’d follow me through ice and snow
Now that I wear my apron high
He goes right down my street and passes by

An alehouse stands in Tarrytown
And now my love he sits me down
He takes another on his knee
For she has gold and riches more than me
 

Dec 16, 2005
Spotlight on “Midnight Special” (1962)

Dear sir,
I happened to find your website, while looking for a reliable source of Harry Belafonte recording dates, especially for “Midnight Special” in 1962. Can you maybe direct me to this information?
Best wishes,
Hans Peter B
Germany

Dear Hans Peter B,
I'm afraid I am unable to help much with your request. My information does not go much beyond what's available on the LP jacket itself.
It does appear though that all 20 takes of the song "Midnight Special" are now available on the Internet. It doesn't take an exhaustive investigation to conclude that these were made available to down-loaders by some member of the team that did the Bob Dylan project a few years back. They set out to bring together all of Dylan's early recordings where he participated strictly as a session musician. 
Of course we all know he was present in 1962 as the harmonica player on that one number on the Belafonte LP, "Midnight Special." So if you can find out who headed up that Dylan project you will have the guy with all the answers. It looks as though the team was given unrestricted access to the BMG/RCA vaults and undoubtedly has copies of the session notes and all.
If you do find out more I would be very interested in hearing about it.
Best of luck with your quest,
Kind regards, Albnut

Jan 11, 2006
“Belafonte Returns to Carnegie Hall” (1960)
The Puzzling Alternate Recordings

Hi Albert,
I have two versions of “Belafonte Returns to Carnegie Hall” on CD. One is from 1993 (released simultaneously with the first double CD Carnegie Hall concert in Europe), which features 1970's artwork. The other is from 1994 and still available at Amazon with more or less the original artwork. However, the concerts featured on these CD's are not the same. For example “La Bamba” on the first CD is about six minutes long, whereas on the second it runs over eight minutes as is suggested in the liner notes. I am not even completely sure that either of the two is the same as the LP version that my parents have. Did you know about this?
Cheers, Menno, 
The Netherlands  

Hi Menno,
You are away ahead of me on this one. Currently I only have the CD issue from 1993 (MFSL). Let me investigate further and get back to you.
Best regards, Albert

Hi Menno,
I have ordered the other CD of "Returns to Carnegie" but it could be a while before I receive it. In the meantime I did go to the AMG site where the track that seems to be getting the close scrutiny is precisely the one you mentioned, "La Bamba." One reviewer suggests, as you have, that it's from another performance altogether.
Regards, Albert

Please scroll to Dec 16, 2006 for continuation.

January 11, 2006
The Strollin' Twenties” (1966)

Greetings,
I am searching for a television program that was broadcast by CBS and produced by Harry Belafonte (Harbel) in 1966. I see that you have information on it within your wonderful website. I am really impressed by all of the terrific information that you feature there.
I am trying to find a library, footage house, or museum that has a copy of The Strollin' Twenties. I have contacted CBS, The Library of Congress, The National Museum of Radio and Television and about 20 footage archives - but with no success. Please let me know if you have any suggestions as to where I can find a copy. Thank you in advance for any advice that you could share with me. I appreciate your kind assistance.
Best wishes, Ann
Brooklyn, NY

Dear Ann,
As you have no doubt detected, "Belafonte Tracks" is very much a work in progress. Although it initially focused on Belafonte's recordings, attention has since shifted to his many other endeavors. Our primary objective is to add definition to the early years (let's say 1945 to 1985). All remaining additions to "Tracks" are presently planned and they will be introduced individually as time permits.
So much for openers, now on to your mission. I would dearly love to be able to tell you that we have "The Strollin' Twenties" on video or even audio (soundtrack) but, unfortunately, such is not the case. We are in contact with a number of other private collectors but this show has not surfaced. That's not to say that it was never captured on film by adoring fans of the artists involved. On the contrary, I fully believe it was. I am continually amazed at what is out there in circulation, some of it dating back as far as the mid fifties. But where does one begin to search?
I am sorry that I am unable to assist you at this time. If I come up with any leads worth pursuing I will get back to you. Meantime, good luck with your project.
Kind regards, Albnut

Readers: Can anyone help with this one?

Feb 9, 2006
Edric Connor, “Songs from Jamaica” (1953)
Eureka
!

Dear Marilyn (eBay member),
The Edric Connor LP arrived today in fine shape thanks to your careful packaging. I knew it was a rare find but it surpasses even my wildest expectations. You see I'm a huge Belafonte fan from way back (1954) - that being a couple of years before the album “Calypso” became a best seller for him. It featured mento music from Jamaica mixed in with a few calypsos from Trinidad and other islands in the Caribbean.
Belafonte collaborated with another performer who called himself Lord Burgess (Irving Burgie). Burgie had a huge repertoire of traditional songs from the Islands . In fact I have a copy of the LP he recorded in the very early 1950's before he met up with Belafonte. It is a great keepsake but I must say that Edric's collection of folk songs from the same period is a whole different listening experience. For one it’s tremendously inspiring in spite of the sparse orchestration. This is precisely the recording that I have been searching for since the mid fifties. It looks very much like it served as a roadmap for Belafonte's very first long-play recording of Caribbean melodies.
Many thanks, Albert
 

Please scroll down to the exchange with Pete Seely dated March 14, 2007 for another spin on this story (tail end of string).

February 14, 2006
LP, “Streets I Have Walked” (1963),
Insider Report

Hello,
I am the girl smiling from ear to ear at the very top left of the photo on the back cover of the LP. My uncle gave Belafonte one of his first singing jobs in New Hampshire in 1951, and when he found out who I was he was most kind to me. Still is whenever I "bump" into him at an environmental event-etc.
Kindly! Louisa
PS- What a blast it was … I will never forget this experience!!

Dear Louisa,
This is a most welcome surprise to finally be in touch with one of the participants in those delightful recording sessions! You must have many little stories to relate about this extraordinary experience. For now I would just like to share with you this scan from the back cover of the album, "Streets I Have Walked." A pretty happy looking group I should add.
Kind regards, Albnut


March 10, 2006

Belafonte Reissues in Limbo Land

Hi Albert,
Do you know if there are any plans to release any of the other Belafonte concerts on CD in the near future?
Best regards, Menno
The Netherlands  

Hi Menno,
It's all quiet right now but there must be something brewing behind the scenes (and hopefully not just another series of theme compilations). I'm afraid we have lost touch with our contact at BMG-UK so we are not party to what is happening. With the change of ownership of the label it is all very confused. Belafonte, himself, does not appear that interested in making sure that the roll-over to CD happens in an organized fashion. Of course he is not at all to blame. He has much more important stuff going on in his life. The reissue process should happen with or without his involvement ... simply because it's the proper thing to do. The bigger picture is that the recording industry as a whole finds itself in a state of total turmoil right now. But that does not forgive them for what did not happen 10 or 15 years ago.
Best regards, Albert

April 21, 2006
Request for Greetings from Mr. Belafonte

Hello and thanks for your amazing website on Mr. Harry Belafonte. My mother will be turning 80 this year and she has been a huge Belafonte fan for decades. She still lives in the Philippines and attended his concert when he visited there many years ago. Would you know if it is at all possible to obtain a greeting (in writing or very brief video) from him?
Many thanks, Cecilia
Denver CO

Dear Cecilia,
Wish I could help but I have no way of contacting Mr. Belafonte who will be turning 80 himself on March 1, 2007. But please wish your mother a happy birthday on behalf of another huge Belafonte fan who just celebrated his 69th anniversary.
Kind regards, Albnut

May 19, 2006
Belafonte’s "Island In The Sun
"

Hello,
I am trying to find this on CD. Is a soundtrack version available?
Marie

Dear Marie,
It's available in a double CD set called "The Essential Harry Belafonte" released by Sony in 2005. You can find it in just about any record store or online at HMV or CD Universe. It is also on "Harry Belafonte, All Time Greatest Hits, Vol. 1" but this single CD may be more difficult to locate. Also you can purchase the movie of the same name on DVD and catch Harry singing and even humming the refrain.
Best of luck with your quest,
Albnut

July 4, 2006
Irving Burgie, Father of Modern Calypso  

Hello,
I thought you might consider adding this link to your link page.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7424629562759717538&q=harry+belafonte
There is an interesting mini-documentary on Google Video called Day-O!: The Music of Irving Burgie. It discusses the work the composer Irving Burgie did with Harry Belafonte. He is the composer of Belafonte's greatest hits. The album he wrote for Harry Belafonte, "Calypso," was the first in history to sell over 1 million copies!
Nu On

Hello No On,
Congratulations on this most informative, uplifting and finely-crafted documentary about the man behind the "calypso" explosion of the mid fifties.
My own collection of Caribbean recordings includes Irving Burgie's debut album on the Stinson label (1952?) as well as his most recent collection on CD, "The Father of Modern Calypso." The first I have under 2 different covers, the original issue purchased by me around-about 1956. I also happen to be the proud owner of a pristine copy of his "West Indian Song Book" and the lovely illustrated children’s book, " Island in the Sun, Belafonte-Burgess-Ayliffe."
I got turned on to West Indian music as a teenager in the early fifties when I happened upon a radio program featuring work-songs from the islands (Edric Connor, maybe?). Shortly thereafter I  became aware of some of Belafonte's early calypso recordings (Matilda, Man Smart, Hold 'Em Joe, Man Piaba) and realized he was drawing from those same sources. Suffice it to say that this joyful, rhythmic and melodic music was unlike anything I had ever heard before. It left me longing for more of the same but it seemed to be next to impossible to find in local record shops.
Then along came the Belafonte's LP "Calypso" in 1956 containing 11 block-busting mento-calypso tracks. It quickly became evident that he had tapped into an extraordinary body of traditional music from the West Indies . The story about how William Attaway arranged to have his two friends - Irving and Harry - meet and the resulting collaboration only became known to me years later. In fact it was in 1960 when Arnold Shaw published his very comprehensive biography on Belafonte. 
Anyway, the ensuing collaboration between Lord Burgess, Harry Belafonte, William Attaway and musicians like Millard Thomas and Herbert Levy remains a subject that musicologists discuss with reverence until this day.

I will gladly add your link to "Belafonte Tracks" when I do the next update.
Kind regards, 
Albnut
PS- Could you possibly put me in touch with anyone who knows something about Belafonte's appearance on “The Colgate Hour (Holiday in Trinidad ),” NBC TV, October 2, 1955. This was the very first performance of selections from the Burgie-Belafonte songbook. According to Arnold Shaw the following numbers were performed:
Banana Boat (Day-O), The Jack-Ass Song, Come Back Liza, Hosanna
The success of this show is what set the stage for the recording of the "Calypso" LP. The rest, as they say, is history! 

August 6, 2006
Belafonte-En Gränslös Kväll På Operan (1966)

Dear Sirs,
My family when they were in Sweden in 1966 attended the Stockholm Operahouse concert by Belafonte. They like calypso music and Harry Belafonte very much. As a surprise, I am searching for this concert record; it can be vhs cassette, vcd, dvd or cassette no problem. If you can help me it will be big surprise for my parents.
Best wishes, 
Omer, Turkey

Sept 30, 2006
Quiet Room (1966), A Family Passion
 

Dear Albert,
By coincidence I visited your website and read comments about the album "My Quiet Room" from Harry Belafonte. My father (he died 30 years ago) was a big fan of Harry Belafonte and "Quiet Room" was my father and mother's favorite record. I like it as well. It's beautiful music. When I'm listening to this album, I'm "traveling" back into time, and that gives me that special "Sunday afternoon feeling" of my younger days.
In 2005 my mother died, she was almost 87 years old. My sister and I've chosen the music for the funeral ceremony. We both knew that "Try to Remember" would be our mother's choice. Though we were grieving, it felt really good to hear that beautiful song again. So comforting and at the same time it felt so overwhelming. It seemed like Harry Belafonte was singing that particular song especially for us.
"I'm Just A Country Boy" is also a beautiful song with well chosen lyrics. Harry Belafonte’s performance is in one word wonderful. You can feel his broken heart when he sings: "I never could afford a store bought ring, with a sparkling diamond stone." In fact, this whole album has "stolen my heart", and that's why it's so special for me.

Kind regards, Anneke
The Netherlands  

Dear Anneke,
It's always nice to hear from another big Belafonte fan. With your explanation I can readily appreciate your attachment to this particular album connecting you with your past. There is another Belafonte LP called "Love Is A Gentle Thing" that you might enjoy. It contains mostly quiet and mystical numbers. I believe it captures that same mood that your parents enjoyed.
Kind regards, Albert

Nov 27, 2006
Cat & Horse or Cart & Horse?

Dear Readers, 
When I first stumbled upon the words to "Matilda, Matilda" over fifty years ago, I suspected I was dealing with a typographical error. After all it had to be "cart and horse" and not "cat and horse." But if the former were the correct wording then why would the writer put the "cart before the horse" so to speak?  From another perspective, I reasoned that a horse would fetch a fair price on the auction block if it came complete with a cart. But who would attempt to sweeten a horse trade by throwing in a cat? 
I was left confused and that confusion has occupied my mind all of these years. 
Read on through the next post for the full story on Matilda and her legendary flight to Venezuela.
Kind regards, Albnut

Matilda, Matilda

Five hundred dollars (friends) I lost
What made me sell me cat and horse?
Matilda, she take me money
And run Venezuela.

Matilda, Matilda, Matilda, she take me money
And run Venezuela.
Matilda, Matilda, Matilda, she take me money
And run Venezuela.

Well, de money was just inside me bed,
Stuck up in de pillow beneath me head
Don't you know Matilda, she take me money
And run Venezuela.

Well, de money was to buy me house and lan',
Then she got a serious plan
Hey a Matilda, she take me money
And run Venezuela.

Well, me friends, nevah to love again,
All me money gone in vain
Hey a Matilda, she take me money
And run Venezuela.

Nov 27, 2006
Matilda, she run, she run ...

Dear Readers,
The following link to "Matilda's Funeral," a recent story written by Fred E. Foldvary was kindly sent my way by Judy Paul. I thought it might also be of interest to those who grew up listening to Harry playfully bemoan the abrupt disappearance of his beloved Matilda, together with his worldly possessions.
Enjoy, Albnut
http://www.freeliberal.com/archives/002327.html

Nov 29, 2006
Winner by Decision, Ethel Waters

Hello,
I discovered your great website today, by chance, after searching for images of Ethel Waters and Harry Belafonte in "Winner by Decision," which I have never had the pleasure of seeing. Would you be able to tell me how I might go about obtaining a DVD or video cassette copy of that show as part of my academic research? I am developing a book on Miss Waters and I would like to include a discussion of this work, which features two of my favorite stars. Your help would be most appreciated.
Best regards,
Randall C 

Dear Randall,
I would love to help you locate a DVD copy of "Winner by Decision" but I'm afraid I don't even know where to begin searching. A lot of short video clips have been popping up on You Tube lately but not that one. Some of the private collectors may have it but, there again, how to find them? I have viewed everything that comes up on eBay carrying the Belafonte name (title and detail search) for 6 years running and have never seen it go by. But these treasures have a habit of appearing once we have given up all hope.
Best of luck with your project.
Kind regards, Albnut

Dec 16, 2006
“Belafonte Returns to Carnegie Hall” (1960)
The Puzzling Alternate Recordings

Continued from Jan 11, 2006  

Dear Carlo and Hans,
Here's an interesting puzzle submitted by Menno way back in January. It just might yield one or two "original tracks." Let me explain. There were 2 reissues of this album on CD as you will see in the attached pictures. One is by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MFCD 782), while the other is a BMG-USA production (09026-62690-2). Menno strongly suspects that some alternate recordings have crept into the BMG-USA CD reissue. I am wondering whether one of you might wish to study these recordings and offer your opinions 

Albert
 

Albert & Carlo,
I have two releases of the "Returns to Carnegie" album: the original release on vinyl and the MFSL CD release. There are differences in track time given on the covers of these albums. Whenever this happens, I check to find out if the timing given on the cover is correct or not. In most cases there is just a printing error. In some cases you can find an edit and very rarely a different version. There is a problem with live recordings, as there is no audible "gap" in between the tracks. I have often found that the only reason for different timings was the "amount" of introduction at the beginning or applause at the end that counted as track time.
I have checked my database for the track entries of these two releases and I have seen that I corrected all timings to the initial vinyl timings with the exception of "The Ox Drivers" being 2:50 on the vinyl and 3:49 on the MFSL release. I filed no comment on this, so I have to check that again. To me it seemed that the MFSL release is a rather straight reissue of the vinyl release with some edits to fit the two LPs on one CD. Do you think that the BMG reissue has probably those different tracks?
Hans  

Hans & Carlo,
I just gave "La Bamba" a listen on the 2 different CD remasterings. The MFSL track sounds very much like the LP whereas the BMG-RCA reissue is quite different throughout. So my call is that we are dealing with an entirely different recording of the number with an appeal all its own. I have not listened to the other tracks yet.
Albert

Albert,
The problem you've raised with "Belafonte Returns to Carnegie Hall" is quite intriguing. I have the original vinyl album (of course) and the Mobile Fidelity CD, but not the BMG re-issue. Honestly I have never noticed any difference between the Mobile Fidelity and the original vinyl. This album is one of the first I ever bought of Belafonte and one of my favorites, so I think I know it pretty well. I may be wrong, but If there would have been any difference I think I would have caught it immediately.
More than this, Mobile Fidelity has surely produced its release by license from BMG and in such cases they always receive original masters. BMG instead has access to its archives for alternate takes, so it's more likely that the BMG issue may have some different takes more than Mobile Fidelity.
As for the timings, they are all so different that I agree with Hans that they may be due to a mistake or wrong attributions – something that I have noticed other times for other records.
All that said, I will gladly and curiously listen to the BMG release and have my comments.
Carlo 

Carlo,
Sorry, I put far too much importance on the differences in track length between the LP and the CD reissues. I have realized myself in digitizing live performances that placing the break between songs is very much a matter of personal preference. Also there is always the temptation (and at times the requirement) to edit out prolonged applause and non-musical patter, especially when attempting to cram a double LP set onto a single CD. So yes the differences in playtimes have no great importance to the present exercise.
You have confirmed that the Mobile Fidelity CD issue draws from the LP masters. So we are probably only questioning the BMG-RCA reissue. That is consistent with what Menno has claimed and also in agreement with what the two contributors to the Amazon site have said.
Albert  

Albert,
I think you will find that many of the tracks are different from the LP. The question is where does this other concert recording come from? Is it another date at Carnegie or was it recorded elsewhere or were some of the songs re-recorded in the studio because Harry didn't like the versions as they were?
Menno  

Please scroll to Jan 7, 2007 for more on this topic.

December 25, 2006
CD Reissues of the Belafonte Back Catalogue

Hi,
Any idea why "Streets I Have Walked" (not to mention "Midnight Special" and probably others) are not released in America on CD?  "Streets" is a classic.  What can I, a fan, do to try to get it released?  
Thanks, Ray
Westchester County, NY  

Dear Ray,
All serious Belafonte fans are frustrated by BMG's (now Sony?) lack of interest in remastering and reissuing all his RCA Victor recordings exactly as they first appeared way back when. Instead they insist on putting out compilation CDs drawing from a limited pool of preselected tracks. In the process they never venture far beyond the standards (Jamaica Farewell, Island In The Sun, Hava Nageela, etc, etc). These are all great recordings but so many more great performances have yet to be "rescued from vinyl."
You will find "Midnight Special" and "Jump Up Calypso" on a "2 gether on 1" release by BMG. It is sold as part of a 3 CD boxed set called "Harry Belafonte, 3 Originals" (purple box face). "Streets" and "Mark Twain" are brought together on a single CD that sells regularly on eBay. But the latter is not an official release and as such I cannot vouch for the quality of the transfers.
Unfortunately, I don't think Sony cares much what a few Belafonte fans think. But we did do a project in 2004 with BMG in the UK and that was a very pleasant surprise. It was the combining of "Many Moods" and "Ballads, Blues and Boasters" on a single CD. They involved us through the entire process and wouldn't let it go until we were happy with all of the edits. Squeezing 2 full-length LPs onto one CD can be a bit of a challenge.
Kind regards, Albnut

Hi Albert,
Thank you so much for your prompt, comprehensive, and informative response!  I will continue to check your excellent site for news. 
Incidentally, if you know of any amateur group or association of fans, particularly ones who might get together and actually sing Belafonte and similar classics of folk, in the NYC area, don't hesitate to let me know.  If no such group exists, it should! 
Happy new year -
Ray

Jan 7, 2007

“Belafonte Returns to Carnegie Hall”
The Puzzling Alternate Recordings
Continued from Dec 16, 2006  

Friends,
I have finished the comparison work related to the "H.B. Returns To Carnegie Hall" reissue on BMG. Here is what I think I found. As we all have agreed that the MFSL CD is identical to the vinyl version, I have compared the MFSL to the BMG reissue.
1) It is absolutely obvious that the reissue contains two tracks that are different from the MFSL. These are "Jump Down, Spin Around" and "La Bamba". This is easy to hear.
2) I am also convinced that "Hene Ma Tov" is a different take. This is a little bit difficult to find and requires repeated listening to certain sections of the songs. A hint: Check the durations of the instrumental (guitar) parts.
3) I am pretty sure that all other tracks are identical. The differences in times is a result of where you put the markers for track length. Very often you can see that on one release the track starts with the spoken intro, whereas on the other release it starts with the music and the spoken intro counts to the previous track.
4) "I've Been Driving On Bald Mountain" and the following "Water Boy" count as one track (medley) on the MFSL version, whereas on the reissue it counts as two. The result: 18 vs. 19 tracks in total.
I can not say if a further in-depth investigation would turn up more results, but I am pretty sure that this is all what can be found with respect to the music. I have not compared the announcements word by word. I guess that was not the question.
I am now looking forward to Carlo's expertise. Anway - great news.
Hans  

Albert,
From what I can remember some of the dialogue in between songs by Harry is also different, but I would have to agree that the most obvious difference was with "La Bamba" and "Jump Down, Spin Around".
Menno  

Friends,
Here enclosed are my comments about the above CD. Just like Hans, I have compared the two CDs from BMG and Mobile Fidelity, as we all agree that the Mobile Fidelity CD is exactly the same as the original vinyl album.
I am curious to know your further comments about my findings. This BMG release is surely very interesting to us, but from a more general point of view I find it a complete mess and nonsense. I think a non-Belafonte fan who just happened to have and liked this album must have been quite disappointed buying this CD and not finding the original versions he was familiar with. 
It would have been a different and right approach to release the entire "alternate" concert (possibly a matinee performance) advertising on the cover sleeve "new unedited / extended edition" or something like that.
A release like this seems more like an unintentional mistake made by BMG, which has incompetently taken the masters from messed up archives.
Unluckily this kind of work is not new to BMG/RCA... take the word of an Elvis expert!
Carlo  

Comparison between Mobile Fidelity CD and BMG CD

 

 

 

1

JUMP DOWN, SPIN AROUND

Different recording on the BMG CD, slower tempo, 

 

 

different vocal phrasing.

2

SUZANNE

Same  

3

A LITTLE LYRIC OF GREAT IMPORTANCE

Same but with extended spoken introduction, citing

 

 

Langston Hughes as the composer.

4

CHICKENS

Same

5

VAICHAKZEM (Chad Mitchell Trio)

Same

6

I DO ADORE HER (Chad  Mitchell Trio)

Same

7

THE BALLAD OF SIGMUND FREUD (Chad Mitchell Trio)

Same but with a longer spoken introduction.

8

I'VE BEEN DRIVING ON BALD MOUNTAIN /

Same

WATERBOY (Odetta)  

9

A HOLE IN THE BUCKET (with Odetta)

Same but with spoken introduction edited ("keep

 

 

looking back because…").

 

 

The ending also has been differently mixed:

 

 

The  original master has the applause over

 

 

Belafonte's last line, while on the BMG re-release it

 

 

starts at the very end of the song.

10

THE CLICK SONG (Miriam Makeba)

Same, but with longer spoken introduction, citing

 

 

Makeba's movie "Come Back Africa"

11

ONE MORE DANCE (with Miriam Makeba)

Same

12

THE OX DRIVER'S SONG (Belafonte Folk Singers)

Same

13

THE RED ROSY BUSH (Belafonte Folk Singers)

Same

14

DIDN'T IT RAIN? (Belafonte Folk Singers)

Same

15

HENE MA TOV

I haven't noticed different vocal phrasing by Belafonte

 

 

but the track appears edited and slightly speed up

 

 

and a spoken introduction has been added.

16

I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING

Quite strange this one: the vocal phrasing is exactly

 

 

the same throughout the song with the exception of

 

 

the word "nor" in the line "nor shoes of fine green

 

 

leather." It sounds as sung in a higher key.

 

 

I am no such expert in music, but it's impossible to

 

 

sing twice the same song in the same way so I wonder

 

 

what happened here.

 

 

It seems as if BMG has spliced the original master

 

 

with just that one insert from a different recording,

 

 

although it doesn't make much sense - or better, it

 

 

looks as a total nonsense! What do you think?

17

OLD KING COLE

Same

18

LA BAMBA

Different recording… apparently! I haven't noticed

 

 

different vocals by Belafonte in the first part (slow).

 

 

The second part (fast) sounds much different.

 

 

It could be another spliced version of two different

 

 

recordings, one being part of the original master

 

 

differently mixed and edited.

Albert,
Wow, that is quite extensive from Carlo! It would appear that the original LP was probably a compilation from different venues. Apparently there exists another mix, which was used for this CD. However, having listened to an old CD that my mother has (a release from 1993 by BMG-Germany no longer in production), I believe that “Hene Ma Tov” is definitely a different recording from start to finish, as are “La Bamba” and “Jump Down Spin Around.” I feel that Belafonte's timing and phrasing are slightly different throughout these songs. I would have to agree with Carlo that “Old King Cole” sounds almost exactly the same.
What is funny is that I seem to remember it said on the LP cover that “La Bamba” was 8 minutes long and that you could hear Belafonte dancing, something I did not notice on the original recording, which was only about 6 1/2 minutes long. This new recording seems to be the one they were writing about.
Menno  

Albert,
Your remark concerning the “Belafonte Returns To Carnegie Hall” album had me to the shelves of LPs and CDs immediately. Of course I have owned the 2LP-set "forever". From the beginning I have always been a little intrigued regarding the duration time information in brackets following the song-titles inside the gatefold cover.  Especially on “La Bamba” informing 8:06 minutes while the track actually lasts 6+ minutes, only, but I have regarded that as carelessness from the manufacturer of the album.
A couple of years ago I saw a CD copy of the set at my local 2nd-hand-shop for a trifle, so I obtained it. It was a CLASSIC COMPACT DISC release under license from BMG. Only much later I found out that this release is a 24K Gold disc!! But to be honest I only have heard this once to assure it played through with no errors. Now with your information I have listened to it again, and I think this is a slightly different version, too. I do not have equipment to run LP and CD simultaneously, but “La Bamba” on my CD runs a full 8:00 minutes. On my set the disc shows a run-time of 71:55 minutes.
I am not sure why this difference - you mention alternative takes, but recorded when? The concert was recorded during one performance, only. Maybe recordings during rehearsals? The LP-version could be edited/shortened or even dubbed from the original concert-recording or similar. I look forward to see what you come up with.
Jan  

Please scroll to April 14, 2007 for the wrap-up and conclusions.

Feb 17, 2007
Contacto

hello Albert sorry by my english i am from Argentina..i speak in 
spanish...prefiero escribir en español...soy admirador de Harry..aca en
ARGENTINA es muy dificil conseguir record de HARRY..hace mucho que no hay
nada ..lo ultimo el cd.  ...100 años de rca.victor..he logrado con los años
y con ayuda de ustedes ..sobre todo tu que sabes un monton de Harry  y he
conseguido casi todo lo que hay editado..los temas en distinatas versiones y
las peliculas..me faltan las no subtituladas..pero ya las voy a
conseguir..te digo se poco de computadotas en mi casa no tengo ..ahora estoy
en una oficina de internet.te digo yo tengo un vhs, de HARRY y JULLIE
ANDREWS en el programa de JULIE en tv LA HORA DE JULIE .esta HARRY----suvuca
y cantas a duo..y tengo una aparicion en el SHOW de ED SULLIVAN..ahi harry
canta JAMAICA FAREWELL y tengo un records de un programa de radio en que
canta HAITE CHERIE y THE MARCHINS SAINT con la orqueta de de DEL
SHANON..este records todavia no lopude escuchar y grabar pues mide 40 cm de
diametro y no consigo un equipo. en la proxima que te escriba te pondre los
datos exctos del mismo el numero ..tiene una fecha escrita sobre el mismo
cuando se puso en el aire y otra donde dice no pasarlo antes de ella..no te
canso mas espero tu respuesta..te digo tengo 56 años..cuando HARRY era
escuchado por aca yo era muy niño...chau HECTOR

March 1st, 2007
Happy Birthday, Harry!
With all our admiration and affection we at " Belafonte Tracks "
wish you all the best on this, Your 80th Birthday.

le 10 mars 2007
Les Admirateurs de Nana et Harry se parlent

Cher Albert!

C’est toujours avec plaisir que je visite ton site. À chaque fois, j’en apprends un peu plus sur celui qui est à l’origine du succès de Nana au Canada. Il est vrai que c’est une véritable légende de la chanson et du cinéma.

En se baladant ici et là parmi tes pages, il est frappant de constater à quel point nous avons bien des similitudes quant à la réalisation d’un site; Toi aussi, tu aimes le détail, le contenu et voir à ce que ça soit bien écrit. On a aussi les mêmes idées;  les passages télés, les caricatures, les couvertures de magazines.

Bon succès à toi Albert pour les années à venir. Je te souhaite toujours davantage de nombreux visiteurs pour admirer le chef d’œuvre de ta vie.

Stéphane Robert,

Webmaster du site québécois de Nana Mouskouri

www.nanamouskouri.qc.ca

March 14, 2007
Belafonte Collector

Hello Peter,
Congratulation on picking up that rare Belafonte Capitol 78. Now that Bear Family has made all of the early sides available on CD only true collectors are interested in securing these first issues. I would be very interested in hearing what you have to say about Harry.
Kind regards, Albert

Hi Albert,
Thanks for writing. I collect a number of people, but I think my Belafonte collection is probably the richest. I mostly collect 78s, reel-to-reel tapes, and foreign issues of his LPs. There's a few 78s I don't have, and the only reel tape I'm missing is "Calypso." I visited your very cool website and will be back again later this week to do the same.
Harry Belafonte has been a part of my life since 1960 or 1961, whichever the year was that my father brought home "Belafonte at Carnegie Hall." I was forever hooked! Those wonderful melodies, that gorgeous voice! That record was like its own little world for me. My misunderstanding of some of the lyrics made for some wonderful misinterpretations.
When I was old enough to get an allowance, while other kids were saving for toys, baseball cards, and such, I would save every week to buy a new Harry LP at the local E.J. Korvette store. My first was "Streets I Have Walked" and then it was one after another. This was around 1963-64.
I kind of fell off the Harry wagon until the seventies, but was disappointed by the late sixties/early seventies output. Then miraculously, over twenty years past his real recording prime, he released what was probably his late great album, “ Paradise in Gazankulu,” and I was hooked once again. Even today, he's one of the people I would consider a personal hero, on a number of different levels.
Like I said, I will be visiting your web site again. Thanks for writing.
Pete Seely
Chicago, USA

Hi Pete,
Thanks for taking the time to respond to my mail. I sure can relate to your story about saving up to buy Belafonte's LPs. Under "Rambles" on the site you can read about my own efforts to secure his singles in the mid 1950s.
- Have you come across any alternate takes or other variants (for instance, extended tracks) on your reel-to-reel tapes? I have often thought about acquiring Harry's albums on tape (cleaner sound I'm told) but just never got around to it.
- Again I like your expression, "Belafonte has been part of my life ..." I sometimes say that he has been “my constant companion.”
- Would be interested to know what other artists or music you collect.
The burning question for all of us is, where are all the US fans? I corresponded with a few for a short period after the site went up but that was it. The same is the case for the UK and Australia ... not a peep. Are you networking with anyone?
Regards, Albert

Hi Albert,
I may not be quite as in tune with the very slight differences that sometimes exist between Belafonte versions as you obviously are, from reading your analysis of “ Island in the Sun” (though I'm pretty sure I can recognize most). I don't think there are any version revelations on the reel-to-reel tapes. In fact, if anything, there was occasionally some short-changing going on. The tapes for “Belafonte Sings the Blues” and “Love is a Gentle Thing” actually shortchange by a couple of cuts each (interesting since, if memory serves, these tapes were typically three times the cost of vinyl).
You asked about other artists I collect. I have extraordinarily wide tastes, and I own close to 20,000 CDs, LPs, 45s, 78s, reel, 8-track and cassette tapes. I am a completist for many artists I collect, so I will tell you some of the artists aside from Belafonte whose work I collect apart from having most or all of their work on CD. In other words, these are artists whom I seek out 33s, 45s, 78s, b-sides, reel tapes, or oddities:
- Benny Goodman
- Laura Nyro
- David Bowie
- The Guess Who
- James Brown
- Roxy Music
- Henry Mancini
- Brother Dave Gardner
- Tangerine Dream
My latest muse is Mancini. There are many, many other artists whose entire catalogue I have but I have stopped with getting all of their music. As a pure collector, my biggest favorites are probably Belafonte and James Brown.
I hope to be visiting “Belafonte Tracks” in the future, if for no other reason than to be the token US person. I have not corresponded with any other fans (other than briefly with Ake Holm), so it never really occurred to me. It will now, though.
Regards, Pete
PS-
I forgot to attach one little bit to the last note, a kind of personal Belafonte list:
- first Belafonte record owned: a 45, probably “Cocoanut Woman/Island in the Sun,” Christmas 1960
- first Belafonte record heard: “Belafonte at Carnegie Hall,” probably 1959 or 1960
- first Belafonte record purchased: “Streets I Have Walked,” 1963
- first Belafonte concert: Orchestra Hall, Chicago , last row of the balcony, February 13, 1993
- favorite Belafonte record: “Belafonte at Carnegie Hall”
- most underrated Belafonte LP: either “The Many Moods of Belafonte” or “Streets I Have Walked”
- least favorite Belafonte LP: Never much cared for “Play Me” or “Turn the World Around”
- collecting oddities: 16 different versions of “Belafonte at Carnegie Hall" from 9 different countries. Mono version of  Belafonte Sings of Love.
Top three questions: 
- Why is so relatively little of Belafonte's work available on CD?
- Why hasn't there ever been a North American release of Love is a Gentle Thing, The Many Moods of Belafonte, Streets I have Walked, Belafonte at the Greek Theater, and Ballads, Blues, and Boasters?
- Why have so many versions of Calypso, Jump Up Calypso, Belafonte Sings the Blues, An Evening With Belafonte/Makeba and An Evening with Belafonte/Mouskouri been released?
Pete Seely,
Chicago, USA

Hi Pete,
Boy am I amazed at both the size of your collection and the wide range of artists it takes in. My own musical interests are fairly diverse but I am only a completist when it comes to Harry. Besides recordings, I also chase after Belafonte memorabilia (magazine articles, playbills, photos, tour books, promo ads, etc). However I don't attempt to secure record issues from other countries unless they contain original material ("first issues") or come with unique and appealing cover art. Also I don't generally collect compilations unless they contain tracks which have been remastered (let's call that "digitized") and are being released for the first time. So maybe I can't really call myself a completist after all.

I just had to ask the question about alternate takes on those reel-to-reel tape releases as you are in a position to know. As you have gathered the underlying theme of "Belafonte Tracks" is to flag every last original Belafonte recording that's out there. A few visitors to the site have questioned why we insist on being so analytical. "After all, isn't it the music that's important," they say. The justification for a no-stone-left-unturned approach to the Belafonte catalogue becomes evident with a visit to the "Treasure Trove" page. Gathered there are a collection of rare, and sometimes obscure, tracks not found on regular albums.
Belafonte has always tended to rework and rearrange his repertoire to keep things fresh. Sampling recordings of his standards made over the years reveals a remarkable transformation. He would even go so far as to mix things up during a tour, sometimes completely changing the delivery of a particular number from one night to the next. I have this from a very reliable source, that being Judy Paul at www.belafonte-asiteofsites.com who would always make it a point to attend several shows whenever Harry passed through Montreal .
I first took an interest in Belafonte because of his sentimental ballads but then quickly discovered calypso music. Over time I have managed to assemble a small library of Caribbean music but always suspected I had passed over the springboard recordings that led to the calypso craze of the mid fifties.
Early on I acquired an LP of West Indian music by Lord Burgess (Irving Burgie) put out on Stinson well before he and Harry met and began their now legendary collaboration. Considering his major involvement in Belafonte's first two calypso LPs I expected that I had discovered the missing link. Not so. Although it was an enjoyable listen I concluded that it was not at all the recording I was searching for.


Forty some odd years went by and then the name Edric Connor began popping up regularly associated with traditional music from Trinidad and Jamaica . Finally around about this time last year I picked up a copy of his LP "Songs from Jamaica" released on Westminster (Argo) in 1953. Suddenly, there it was, a virtual roadmap for Harry Belafonte’s LPs “Calypso (1955)" and "Sings of the Caribbean (1957)." Michael Garnice at Mento Music had been claiming as much on his brilliantly crafted website, but now I was hearing it for myself.
That's all for now,
Regards, Albert
 

March 18, 2007
A Danish Perspective

Dear Albert!
Thank you so much for your letter. Of course I know the Belafonte homepage of yours and as soon as possible I will write you a longer letter. You see, I am a librarian and a writer, and right now I must read the proofs of my new novel.
Best regards,
Per Gammelgaard
Denmark

Dear Albert,
To tell you the truth I am not a Belafonte expert as you suggest. I thought I was, but once - after a broadcasting which I produced about the art of Belafonte - I was contacted by Jan Ejlertsen and learned a lot. Jan and I met Belafonte several times, and Harry once referred to me as "my Danish expert." It was during a press conference and he claimed, that “Rock Island Line” was included on the “Midnight Special” LP. "You are wrong!" I said. But, once again, Jan is the Danish expert, no doubt.
I often think about “Tonight with Belafonte” and other TV-specials from the late fifties forward and hope to buy them on DVD one day. And I often wonder why it is the same few albums that currently appear on CD. Never “Belafonte on Campus,” “Belafonte Live Now,” “In my quiet Room” et cetera.
The last time I saw Harry was on the first of March in Frankfurt four years ago. Once again he toured Europe , and it was a great experience to sing the birthday song. But at last, when the concert-hall came to the boil - during the carnival-medley, you know - a big silence took over because of a bomb threat.
I look forward to hear from you.
Best regards, Per

Dear Per,
Your remarks about the BMG program of album re-issues on CD are well taken. It's really quite a dilemma. We were approached by BMG-UK in 2004 and collaborated with them on a 2-on-1 release, this being "Many Moods" coupled with "Ballads, Blues and Boasters." We agreed to ignore the Belafonte albums that had previously been "remastered." To our regret they have since gone through a re-organization and we no longer have a contact on the inside.
It's a very long story but my daughter Carole and I took in the Belafonte concert in Helsinki (Espoo) on March 4, 2003 and managed to sweet-talk our way backstage to greet him after the show. So, as it turns out, we caught him on that same tour and only a few days after the concert you attended in Frankfurt .
Kind regards,
Albert

Dear Albert,
I see, concerning “Many Moods / Ballads...” you got a finger in the pie - well done! On another two-on-one-release (“Jump up Calypso/Midnight Special”) the ending of “On Top Of Old Smokey” has just been cut short. My Lord - how can they do that! 
Once I suggested BMG place more Belafonte-material in their collectables-oldies-series. You know, like Lena Horne/Belafonte, Makeba/Belafonte etc. But they did not answer.
Yours, Per
   

April 14, 2007
“Belafonte Returns to Carnegie Hall” (1960)
The Puzzling Alternate Recordings

C
ontinued from Jan 7, 2007

Friends,
Here is the status of our review of these 2 re-issues of Returns to Carnegie Hall on CD (MFSL vs BMG). As you will see 3 tracks on the BMG release have already been declared as different from the Mobile Fidelity set. A fourth track is still in question, that being "I Know Where I'm Going."
Summary:
1) Jump Down Spin Around 
Agreed that the versions on the 2 CDs are different.
2) La Bamba.
Agreed that the versions on the 2 CDs are different.
3) Hene Ma Tov
Agreed that the versions on the 2 CDs are different.
- Questioned by both Menno and Hans
- The early part of this number is softer and more mystical on the MFSL disc.
4) I Know Where I'm Going
- Initial remarks from Carlo:
Quite strange this one. The vocal phrasing is exactly the same throughout the song with the exception of the word "nor" in the line "nor shoes of fine green leather." It sounds as sung in a higher key. I am no such expert in music, but it's impossible to sing twice the same song in the same way so I wonder what happened here. It seems as if BMG has spliced the original master with just that one insert from a different recording, although it doesn't make much sense.
What do you think about it?
- From Albert:
I find Belafonte's pronunciation of certain words is slightly altered from one recording to the other. For instance "painted" and "winsome" come out sounding a bit exaggerated - but in an appealing sort of way - on the Mobile Fidelity set. On the BMG release I have the impression that "I Know Where I'm Going" is a different recording from start to finish.
- Further input from Carlo:
It can be a different recording... or a different mix or a spliced version. I have listened to it time and time again and still find it very difficult to assume a final conviction. I found the words "nor shoes" to be different, you added "painted" and "winsome." Now I can also add "like a starry cluster shine", that sounds a little more dramatic on the BMG re-release. 
I am wondering, Menno, Hans & Jan, whether you might have the time to give these 2 tracks a close listen and report your findings.
Albert 

Friends,
I read with interest your remarks on the 2 "Returns..." concert. I must say that I have difficulties to really tell the differences between the "I Know Where I’m Going" tracks. I think the best thing would be, if somebody had 2 separate CD-players, and the played the tracks simultaneously - then it should be possible to locate any small variations.
Jan  

Friends,
Finally found some time to make a comparison between the two versions of  "I Know Where I’m Going." I would have to agree with your assessment. I think the two are different recordings, although they are indeed more similar than some of the other recordings we have discussed.
Menno  

Friends,
I have finally completed my comparison of the two versions of “I Know Where I’m Going” and want to start with the result: These are two different recordings.
Here is what I have done: I have recorded both versions on my computer using a software called "WaveLab". This software can be used for analyzing and editing music files. I can see the frequency at any time and can listen to fractions of seconds. I have set the first tone of the guitar to zero and had the frequency image of both versions on my screen.
When you listen to small sections and compare them A to B, you can find a tremendous amount of differences. For instance the section Carlo mentions: "nor shoes of fine green leather". This starts at 1:02 on the MFSL version, at 1:03 at the BMG. When you look at it on the frequency image, you can easily see that the "phrasing" is different, as Carlo has put it. I have attached a screenshot of this section. Please save this on your computer first and open it with an image processing software or at least an image viewer like IrfanView and enlarge it so it covers the whole screen.
Listen to the phrase "...for her loving winsome Johnny". At the beginning of this the guitar plays three notes, which go from low to high on the MFSL, but from high to low on the BMG version. Analyzing every second of this would turn out a multitude of differences.
To come to an end: the duration of the tracks from exactly the first note to the last is 3:14 for the MFSL and 3:09 for the BMG.
I hope this helps.
Hans

Hans,
Well Hans, you certainly found a great way of comparing the two. Hooray
for technology! I guess we can put that one down as another alternate recording.
Menno

Hans,
Wow, I'm impressed with your clinical analysis of this mystery track (last of 4). Thanks for confirming beyond any lingering doubt what we suspected. Many thanks again to Menno for discovering these alternate recordings and bringing them to our attention.
Albert  

Friends,
I bow to the super accurate and high professional examination of Hans-Peter. My comparison was basically done in the same way (putting the two recordings on my computer) but not as sophisticated and accurate as studying frequency curves and timings.
By this time nobody can challenge the conclusions of Professor Huebschen, so we can definitely say "I Know Where I'm Going" is a different recording.
Carlo  

Dear Readers,
Just a few closing thoughts on this matter. The wonderful news is that we have identified 4 “alternate recordings.” These were never released previously and will be added to our tally of “original Belafonte tracks.”
We are, though, left with an intriguing mystery. Where and when (and maybe why) were these alternates recorded? The popular story is that there only was one Belafonte concert given at Carnegie Hall in 1960 but we do not know that for a fact.
A number of possibilities have been put forward by the group to explain the situation. These are:
- Trial recordings made during rehearsals for the Carnegie appearance?
- A matinee performance at Carnegie Hall?
- A second evening at Carnegie (Belafonte held over by popular demand?).
- Studio sessions following the Carnegie event hoping to capture some special magic?
- Recordings made at another venue altogether during that same time period?
Whatever the case may be, the mystery lives on.
Kind regards, Albnut

May 17, 2007
A Boy and Belafonte

Dear Albert,
In 1962, when I was 14 years old, I listened to a very popular radio-non stop-program: Music at work. Out came a song that changed my life and my taste of music. Up-tempo, a lot of brass and drums and the most fabulous voice I ever heard. “Angelina, Angelina, please bring down your concertina...” What was it? Who was it? Impatiently I waited to hear the announcement! 
That's how it all began. And now I'm sure, that you are startled at the year - 1962, but I lived in the country, and the only current music was Danish hits and funny songs from the revues. Perhaps I knew some calypso-songs from Nina & Frederik, I really can't remember, but in my place it meant nothing compared to the popular, Danish music. The wave of calypso did not hit us, and the wave of rock 'n' roll we did not like at all. (Perhaps you know from Jan, that in the fifties you could not buy RCA Victor in Denmark).
Well, as quick as possible I took a bus to Aarhus , and I was lucky, found all Belafonte-LPs in the shops, listened and used most of my confirmation-money! My father raged against me, but by a miracle he, little by little, became a Belafonte-fan too. 
- “Cocoanut Woman,” Belafonte singing and dancing on a ladder, was a climax in me and my fathers being together. Does that say anything to you?
- A BBC-studio-show from the sixties, perhaps with songs from “Ballads, Blues and Boasters”....?
- A show recorded in France
in the seventies with Sivuca! The carnival medley...? 
Your friend, Per
Denmark

Dear Per,
Great to get your reflections! The story about discovering Belafonte is so precious. I especially enjoyed the part about Belafonte's charm being instrumental in bringing you and your father closer together.
Harry dancing on a ladder, that’s special and a new one for me! Was this on a TV show out of England in the sixties?
Now that we're on that subject, we have been desperately looking for big Belafonte fans in the UK. They most certainly exist but apparently they don't care to make their presence known. This could give us access to information from the late fifties through the sixties when Harry was very active there.
Could you give further information on the BBC studio show mentioned in your email?
Your friend,
Albert

Dear Albert,
Belafonte climbing and dancing on a ladder - well, I remember it as a Belafonte-show, that's all I can say.
I don't know where, but once I read, that the contract Harry signed with BBC for himself and a few musicians (for only half an hour) was the most expensive per minute in music history. 
That's all I can tell by now.
Your friend,
Per

Home Up Fan Forum 1 Fan Forum 2 Fan Forum 3 Fan Forum 4 Fan Forum 5 Fan Forum 6