Click to return to Dave’s Music Database home page.

Charted: June 16, 1956

Rating: 4.500 (average of 8 ratings)

Genre: world music

Quotable: “This landmark album…had a revolutionary effect on folk music in the 1950s and ‘60s” – Cary Ginell, All Music Guide

Album Tracks:

  1. The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)
  2. I Do Adore Her
  3. Jamaica Farewell
  4. Will His Love Be Like His Rum?
  5. Dolly Dawn
  6. Star-O
  7. The Jack-Ass Song
  8. Hosanna
  9. Come Back Liza
  10. Brown Skin Girl
  11. Man Smart (Woman Smarter)


sales in U.S. only 1 million
sales in U.K. only - estimated --
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. --
sales worldwide - estimated 1 million


peak on U.S. Billboard album chart 1 31
peak on U.K. album chart --

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • Jamaica Farewell (10/20/56) #14 US
  • The Banana Boat Song (Day-O) (2/23/57) #5 US, #7 RB, #2 UK

Notes: A 2005 reissue added bonus tracks “Venezuela,” “Kukla-Mu,” “Sylvie,” “Baby Darlin’,” “Hello Everybody,” and “Melda Massi.”


Rated one of the top 1000 albums of all time by Dave’s Music Database. Click to learn more. Billboard Magazine’s Album of the Year

Harry Belafonte
“This is the album that made Harry Belafonte’s career. Up to this point, calypso had only been a part of Belafonte’s focus in his recordings of folk music styles. But with this landmark album, calypso not only became tattooed to Belafonte permanently; it had a revolutionary effect on folk music in the 1950s and ‘60s” (Ginell).

“The album consists of songs from Trinidad, mostly written by West Indian songwriter Irving Burgie (aka Lord Burgess). Burgie’s two most successful songs are included – Day O and Jamaica Farewell…as are the evocative ballads I Do Adore Her and Come Back Liza and what could be the first feminist folk song, Man Smart (Woman Smarter)” (Ginell).

Calypso became the first million-selling album by a single artist, spending an incredible 31 weeks at the top of the Billboard album charts, remaining on the charts for 99 weeks. It triggered a veritable tidal wave of imitators, parodists, and artists wishing to capitalize on its success” (Ginell).

“Years later, it remains a record of inestimable influence, inspiring many folksingers and groups to perform, most notably the Kingston Trio, which was named for the Jamaican capital. For a decade, just about every folksinger and folk group featured in their repertoire at least one song that was of West Indian origin or one that had a calypso beat. They all can be attributed to this one remarkable album” (Ginell).

“Despite the success of Calypso, Belafonte refused to be typecast. Resisting the impulse to record an immediate follow-up album, Belafonte instead spaced his calypso albums apart, releasing them at five-year intervals in 1961, 1966, and 1971” (Ginell).

Review Source(s):

Last updated March 25, 2008.