Calypso (album)  

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Harry Belafonte, a New Yorker of Jamaican origin, released wildly popular "calypso" hit records in the period 1956-1958. In reality "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" and "Jamaica Farewell" – both featured on Calypso (1956) and both written by Irving Burgie – were mento songs sold as calypso. Previously recorded Jamaican versions of these now classic "calypso" hits can be heard on the compilation Jamaica - Mento 1951-1958 (2009).

Louise Bennett-Coverley gave Harry Belafonte the foundation for his 1956 hit "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" by telling him about the Jamaican folk song "Hill and Gully Rider" (the name also given as "Day Dah Light")."

"Jamaica Farewell" was compiled and modified from many folk pieces to make a new song. Burgie acknowledged his use of the tune of another mento, "Iron Bar"".--Sholem Stein

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Calypso is the third studio album by recording artist Harry Belafonte, released by RCA Victor (LPM-1248) in 1956. The album became his second consecutive number-one album on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart, where it peaked for 31 weeks. Calypso was the first LP record album to sell over one million copies.

In 2018, Calypso was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or artistically significant."


Album information

The first track "Day-O (Banana Boat Song)" largely contributed to the success of the album and has long been Belafonte's signature song, the single reaching number five on Billboard's Pop chart. "Star-O", the sixth track on the album, is essentially a short reprise of "Day-O", with slightly different lyrics.

It is sung from the point of view of dock workers working the night shift loading bananas onto ships. Daylight has come, the shift is over, and they want their work to be counted up so that they can return to their homes (this is the meaning of the lyric "Come, Mr. Tally Man, tally me banana / Daylight come and me wan' go home.")

The third track, "Jamaica Farewell", is a calypso folk song about the beauties of the West Indian islands and a love left behind. This was the first album on which the song was published. The song was released as a single, reaching number 14 on Billboard's Pop chart, becoming the second hit from the album.


Calypso was the first LP record album to sell over one million copies. Several single records, including Glenn Miller's "Chattanooga Choo-Choo," Bing Crosby's "White Christmas," and Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons" had surpassed 1 million copies previously. The album is number four on Billboard's "Top 100 Album" list for having spent 31 weeks at number 1, 58 weeks in the top ten, and 99 weeks on the U.S. charts. Allmusic gave the album 5 stars out of 5 and called it, "a record of inestimable influence".

Popular culture

Belafonte's original 1955 recording of "Day-O" was heard in the dinner scene in the Tim Burton film Beetlejuice (1988). Belafonte appeared in a "Day-O" music video, featured on MTV, promoting the film. "Man Smart (Woman Smarter)" was also featured in Beetlejuice as well as episodes of The Simpsons and I Love Lucy.

Track listing

|title1 = Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) |writer1 = Traditional, arranged by William Attaway, Harry Belafonte, Lord Burgess |length1 = 3:02 |title2 = I Do Adore Her |writer2 = Lord Burgess |length2 = 2:48 |title3 = Jamaica Farewell |writer3 = Lord Burgess |length3 = 3:02 |title4 = Will His Love Be Like His Rum? |writer4 = Attaway, Belafonte |length4 = 2:33 |title5 = Dolly Dawn |writer5 = Lord Burgess |length5 = 3:13 |title6 = Star-O |writer6 = Harry Belafonte, Lord Burgess, William Attaway |length6 = 2:02 |title7 = The Jack-Ass Song |writer7 = Lord Burgess, William Attaway |length7 = 2:52 |title8 = Hosanna |writer8 = Lord Burgess, William Attaway |length8 = 2:34 |title9 = Come Back Liza |writer9 = Lord Burgess, William Attaway |length9 = 3:03 |title10 = Brown Skin Girl |writer10 = Norman Span |length10 = 2:43 |title11 = Man Smart (Woman Smarter) |writer11 = Norman Span |length11 = 3:31 }}


  • Harry Belafonte – vocals
  • Millard J. Thomas – guitar (1, 4, 6, 7)
  • Frantz Casseus – guitar
  • Tony Scott and His Orchestra (2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11)
  • The Norman Luboff Choir (8, 9, 10)

Production notes:

  • Ed Welker – producer
  • Herman Diaz Jr. – producer
  • Henri René – producer ("Man Smart (Woman Smarter)")
  • Tony Scott – conductor
  • Brock Peters – chorus leader
  • Roy Stevens – cover photo
  • William Attaway – liner notes

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Calypso (album)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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