Swing Dat Hammer (Remastered) Harry Belafonte

Album info

Album-Release:
1960

HRA-Release:
09.03.2016

Label: RCA/Legacy

Genre: Folk

Subgenre: Vocal

Album including Album cover

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  • 1Look Over Yonder02:51
  • 2Bald Headed Woman03:33
  • 3Grizzly Bear03:32
  • 4Diamond Joe03:39
  • 5Here Rattler Here04:03
  • 6Another Man Done Gone02:24
  • 7Swing Dat Hammer04:43
  • 8Go Down Old Hannah03:53
  • 9Rocks and Gravel03:53
  • 10Talkin' an' Signifyin'06:00
  • Total Runtime38:31

Info for Swing Dat Hammer (Remastered)

„An album focusing on music of chain gangs, this record is as explosive and powerful as any in Belafonte's catalog. Accompanied again by the Belafonte Folk Singers and the occasional guitar and bass (with conductor Bob Corman credited under his real name, Robert De Cormier), Belafonte turns the hypnotic, rhythmic chants of Negro prisoners into riveting, passionate songs of unrelenting loneliness and shame ('Swing Dat Hammer'), torturous days laboring in the hot sun ('Go Down Old Hannah'), hatred for their captors ('Grizzly Bear') and even their guard dogs ('Here Rattler Here'). 'Diamond Joe' features Belafonte expressing the prisoner's anger and despair as he faces an endless life on the rock pile. It is one of the most chilling performances of his career.

The finale is an atomospheric piece called 'Talkin' an' Signifyin'' consisting of Belafonte telling stories and joking with other 'prisoners' (members of the Folk Singers) as they lie in their bunkhouse after dark, with rain pelting down on the roof. The material was drawn from research of actual recordings and written fragments from prison life. Folklorists and purists who have decried Belafonte for 'commercializing' folk music need look no further than this album to discover that Belafonte's translation of the traditional material into more commercial terms only intensifies the impact of the music. This is Belafonte at his best.“ (Cary Ginell, AMG)

Harry Belafonte, vocals The Belafonte Folk Singers, vocals Millard Thomas, guitar Robert De Cormier, conductor

Recorded June 3-6, 1961 at Webster Hall, New York, New York
Engineered by Robert Simpson
Produced by Bob Bollard

Digitally remastered


Harry Belafonte
Harold George Harry Belafonte was born in March 1, 1927. His family was Jamaican descent, but he was born in the United States. He is an actor, singer and a socio humanitarian activist. His mother Melvine, was a house keeper while his father Harold George, was a chef. Between the years 1932 and 1940, he lived in Jamaica with his grandmother. He then attended George Washington High School in New York; he was then enrolled into the navy and participated in the Second World War.

In late 1940s, he enrolled in drama classes and subsequently joined the American Negro Theatre to perfect his skills. Due to his hard work and determination, he was awarded a Tony Award. In 1950s, he popularized the musical style in Caribbean using international fans and as a result he was nicknamed the “king of calypso”. “Banana Boat Song” was his major hit song that brought him into the limelight across the world. Throughout his entire life, he has been a major crusader of civil and humanitarian rights; he was in the forefront of criticizing president G. W. Bush administrative policies.

His first commonly released album “Matilda” was recorded on April 27, 1953. In 1956, the Calypso album was launched which attracted the attention of the world earning him the nickname. He made very many recordings between the years 1950s to the 1970s; he was so famous that he was even invited to perform in the inauguration ceremony of President John F. Kennedy. Due to the emergence of The Beatles and other superstars from Britain in late 1960s, Harry Belafonte’s fame started diminishing very fast the same way it had come. He started touring the world in 1980s actively participating in humanitarian issues, during this time he made very few recordings.

He was the first African American to win an award in television production in 1950s; he has also received several honors including the coveted Kennedy Center Honors in the year 1989. He has held many concerts until in 2007 when he stated that he had retired due to illness. Belafonte also stirred in various films in 1950s like; Bright Road, Otto Preminger among others. He was not very happy with the roles he was allocated in the movies; and as a result he took a break until in 1970s. He has since been involved in so many movies his last one was in 2006 in a movie titled “Bobby, Emilio Estevez”

Harry Belafonte was married to Marguerite Byrd from 1948 to 1957 and they have two daughters, Adrienne and Shari. In March 8, 1957, he married Julie Robinson and they have two children, David and Gina. On April 2008, he married Pamela Frank. Paul Robeson was his political mentor who had a great influence in his political ideologies and beliefs. Belafonte opposed racial discrimination in America and colonialism in Africa. He was so active to the extent that President John F. Kennedy gave him advisory role to the Peace Corps. He has participated in various funds drives that have been held across the world to promote humanitarian activities.

This album contains no booklet.

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