[79] Harry Belafonte – Live At Carnegie Hall

10 Oct

The first time I saw Harry Belafonte, he was singing “The Banana Boat Song” with Fozzie Bear on The Muppet Show.  I’ve been a fan ever since.

Belafonte at Carnegie Hall

Belafonte at Carnegie Hall

And nothing I hear on this warm and eclectic live set does anything to undermine those decades of affection.  His song choices run the international gamut and his broad and powerful voice lends an immediacy to each one.

There are folk songs from the Carribean, Mexico, Ireland, Eastern Europe and more, all performed with reverence and an astounding connection to the Carnegie Hall crowd.

Most of the songs are familiar and well loved – “Day-O”, “Danny Boy”, “Shenandoah”, “John Henry”,  “When The Saints Go Marching In”, “Hava Nagila” – and those that are initially unknown to me turn out to be equally engaging and in some cases even more catchy.  I’ve had the set closer, “Matilda”, stuck in my head for weeks now!

The arrangements from the orchestra are simply beautiful, just the subtlest hint of strings, drums, horns framing the focus of every tune – Belafonte’s unmistakable voice.  Not a single detail is lost, as if he is singing right here and now instead of across five and a half decades.

I am so engrossed in everything I hear from this album that for the first time in months I am inspired to explore Moon’s next stop “Catalog Choice” – 1960’s Belafonte Returns To Carnegie Hall – which is interesting, but necessarily derivative and lesser since all of the best material was already included in the original.  Worth a listen, but not in the same league as Live . . .

Belafonte enjoys every moment here, at times making himself laugh out loud with a cute lyric or particularly enthusiastic audience reaction.  It is moments like these that make this a must-hear recording, and which will ensure that I return to hear it again and again.

It also doesn’t hurt that my 5-year-old daughter also appears to love it.  Time to cue up Harry’s Muppet Show appearnce for her . . .

Next Week:  Peter Bellamy – The Transports

Owned before blogging? No. (9 of 79 = 11%)
Heard before blogging? No. (12 of 79 = 15%)
Recommend? Yes. (64 of 79 = 81%)


One Response to “[79] Harry Belafonte – Live At Carnegie Hall”

  1. Thom Hickey October 13, 2014 at 1:51 AM #

    Thanks. A really alive live album! HB combined talent, charm and dedication to his craft (and political ardour) – rare combination. Regards Thom.

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