Harry Belafonte – When Colors Come Together: The Legacy of Harry Belafonte (RCA/Legacy) review
Now, more than ever, his music and message need to be heard
There is truly only one Harry Belafonte.
Singer, actor, political activist; he is a towering figure whose message of equality for all seems more relevant now in these turbulent times than ever before. Legacy Recordings is celebrating the singular artist’s 90th birthday with a brand-new collection called When Colors Come Together: The Legacy of Harry Belafonte (to be released February 24th).
Few young people could pick Belafonte’s music out by name. Yet, the refrain “Day-O” from his “Banana Boat Song” is one of the most-recognizable pieces in the history of recorded music, getting played at sporting and entertainment events worldwide; very few nonagenarians can say they’ve recorded such timeless music. Yet, equally important is Belafonte’s tireless activism for racial harmony. This hope for a peaceful world is reflected in the accompanying booklet, which features quotes from the legendary singer, alongside interviews with children of all races, augmented by images of ways all races can co-exist peacefully. Continue reading Harry Belafonte – When Colors Come Together
Big Joe & the Dynaflows – Can’t Keep a Big Man Down (Severn Records)
Making a good blues album requires some key ingredients – you’d be amazed how many bands get it wrong. Most start with a flashy guitarist, and that’s their first mistake. What you need is a good singer first to drive your band. Then, when you’re laying down tracks, it needs to sound authentic – the blues was born in the Delta and raised in Chicago, so synths and digital beats are a no no. Lastly, it needs to have a sense of humor; even when Muddy and Lightnin’ got into a jam, they never forgot to laugh at their predicament. Big Joe & the Dynaflows understand how important all those elements are – and they get it right on You Can’t Keep a Big Man Down.
First, there’s singer Big Joe Maher, who also plays drums – how cool is that? He’s got a powerful, yet soulful voice and knows how to sit right down in the backbeat of a song and groove. Then there’s Rob McNelley, one of the greatest guitar slingers around, who’s played with everyone from Delbert McClinton to Lady Antebellum. Here he turns in some incredibly slinky lines that are oh-so tasty, not to mention his perfect guitar tone, right out of a 1950’s B.B. King record.
Then there’s the sound of the record: if it wasn’t recorded live, you coulda fooled me. It’s got a live-as-it-happens feel to it that gives it an immediacy lacking in so many of these kind of albums. Finally, there’s the songs. “Property Line” talks about moving out to the country, only to end up having nosey neighbors next door – who hasn’t had that one happen? “What the Hell Were You Thinkin’” is the kinda thing we wish we could sing to people who screwed up. A seriously fun listen. – Tony Peters