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The Legacy Of Harry Belafonte: When Colors Come Together

Harry Belafonte

RCA/Legacy

Review by David Bowling

 

Harry Belafonte is celebrating his 90th birthday this year and in celebration RCA/Legacy is releasing a compilation of some of his most well-known songs titled The Legacy Of Harry Belafonte: When Colors Come Together.

Today Harry Belafonte is more known for his political stances and social awareness than his music but during the mid-1950’s through the 1960’s he was one of the most famous non-rock performers in the world. Born in Harlem, he fused Caribbean rhythms with traditional folk music. His two live albums, recorded at Carnegie Hall, sold millions of copies and made him one of the first black singers to achieve mass mainstream appeal.

Belafonte has a laid back and easy flowing style. His signature song, “Banana Boat Song (Day-O)” and such traditional songs such as “Scarlet Ribbons (For Her Hair),” “All My Trials,” “On Top Of Old Smokey,” and a live version of “Pastures Of Plenty” just flow easily by the senses.

His version of “Mary’s Boy Child” never grows old, as does his sincere and passionate cover of “Abraham, Martin & John” recorded shortly after Martin Luther King’s death.

The only new song is a re-recording and re-imagining of “When Islands Come Together (Our Island In The Sun)” sung by a children’s choir. It serves as the first and introductory track to the album and its music. Originally co-written by Belafonte, it was the title song for the 1957 film Island In The Sun, in which he starred.

While his music is tied to the past, many of the album’s songs remain relevant today despite their age. His music will only appeal to a certain segment of the population but for those who appreciate his style and music, The Legacy Of harry Belafonte: When Colors Come Together will be a treat.

 

Rating: ****

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