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Greatest Hits

Harry Belafonte

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Album Review

Digitally remastered in 2000, RCA's triple-disc package Greatest Hits is a stellar overview of Harry Belafonte's career, covering 53 tracks spanning the years 1952-1972. While Belafonte is, of course, best known for popularizing calypso music, Greatest Hits doesn't place a disproportionate emphasis on that aspect of his career; instead, the collection is a testament to Belafonte's eclecticism and versatility. His voice may have been tailor-made for straight-ahead pop, but Belafonte was most at home on folk material, and his sources ranged far and wide. Not only from standard American folk repertory and his beloved Caribbean, but jazz, blues, Appalachian folk, British folk, and slave spirituals and work songs, not to mention the wealth of material rediscovered during the 1960s folk revival. Greatest Hits isn't the ultimate word on Belafonte — some of his individual albums remain important, essential works in their own right, particularly Calypso — but as a thorough encapsulation of his career, it's richly rewarding and virtually flawless.

Biography

Born: 01 March 1927 in New York, NY [Harlem]

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

An actor, humanitarian, and the acknowledged "King of Calypso," Harry Belafonte ranked among the most seminal performers of the postwar era. One of the most successful African-American pop stars in history, Belafonte's staggering talent, good looks, and masterful assimilation of folk, jazz, and worldbeat rhythms allowed him to achieve a level of mainstream eminence and crossover popularity virtually unparalleled...
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