Indeed, "Day-O" (AKA "The Banana Boat Song") was a major single hit--nine weeks in the Top Ten in early 1957. The album that it came from had been out since mid-1956, but I suppose that when the Tarriers hit big with their version of "Day-O," that prompted the single release of Belafonte's version. He was already well established as an album artist by this time, but he did have several more Top 40 hits in the next couple of years, including two or three that peaked just shy of the Top Ten, so somebody was buying those singles.
Library of Congress
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Dave Burnham
Sent: Tuesday, July 30, 2013 9:56 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] 90 minutes of concentrated love for grooved vinyl, by the BBC
Belafonte not a singles producer? Unless my grey cells are getting greyer, I remember getting Belafonte 78s - Jamaica Farewell, Mama look at Bubu, (or whatever it was called), Day-O, Matilda and if I remember correctly, Man Smart, and others. I think HB had his share of singles.
Sent from my iPhone
On 2013-07-30, at 9:34 AM, Donald Clarke <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> There's no way to know now, but I would dispute that kids were buying e.g. Belafonte's big hit albums. 1956 was the year I was 16 and went to work in a record shop, and kids didn't have enough money for albums then. But grownups were buying albums, not singles, and that's increasingly where the money was for the record companies, long before popcrock pushed evertyhing else off the Billboard chart.
> Donald Clarke
> On Jul 30, 2013, at 8:44 AM, Michael Biel wrote:
>> From: Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
> WOW! The Brits really get their license fee's worth with Channel 4 --
> and this was a BBC Scotland production!
> I started watching this thinking that it would be crap and that I
> would find loads of factual errors, but on the whole it makes many
> good points. It makes a good argument about the transition of the
> rock and pop scene from being singles oriented to album oriented that
> I had not fully considered despite the fact that I lived it and was a part of it.
> Perhaps their excuse would be that they had discussed the 50's as
> being when adults bought albums and kids bought singles, but I would
> go beyond their narrow view of performers that teenagers would know
> of. Kids did not buy Bob Dylan albums in 1962 or 63. They DID buy
> Elvis albums, Kingston Trio, but not Dylan.
> Although I was there in the folk scene, I had gotten my introduction
> to Dylan in 63 when my British pen-pal asked me to send him
> Freewheeling which had not been released there. The delay in releasing
> his first 2 albums in England is not noted despite crediting Dylan
> with part of the thrust to albums with his first albums, especially
> Freewheeling, but this was not noticed at the tie -- only later. They
> did have an aside about the growth of the American Folk Music scene
> being an influence in the album, but then jump back to Dylan. If you
> want to note album artists that did not have hit singles, it started
> before Dylan. Harry Belefonte was not a singles seller, but with
> "Mark Twain" and especially "Calypso", his albums were very
> influential. I discovered recently when doing my "First Family"/"My
> Son the folk Singer" research that Joan Baez had THREE albums in the
> top 15 that month and that Peter Paul and Mary's first album was the No 1 album that these two comedy albums bumped off.
> Dylan's own albums were not making a wave yet -- PP&M MADE Dylan.
> Later on the doc discusses the live album and credits Peter Frampton
> with starting that phase of albums, they forgot "The Weavers At
> Carnegie Hall" and then Belafonte's three GIGANTIC HIT Carnegie Hall
> and Greek Theatre albums as being influential sellers for performers
> who still were not singles sellers. Kids were buying these albums
> before they bought Dylan's albums. Plus I would say that Belafonte's
> albums were more "concept" than Dylan's early albums and that they
> were hits whereas Dylan's weren't.
> But it is a thought provoking doc.
> Mike Biel [log in to unmask]