FROM THE ARCHIVE 232 -1957-

1957 AG NMEBassey22ndFeb2

1957 AM NMEBassey26thApril3

Today a review of the 1957 single The Banana Boat Song with the B-side Tralala.

The Banana Boat Song
Traditional song, with new lyrics by Erik Darling, Bob Carey and Alan Arkin

The Banana Boat Song (also known as Day-O) is one of the best known songs in the world. Most people will know the “day-o” melody. Shirley Bassey did it very early on in her career, and you can hear her version digitally remastered on the 2003 compilation Thank You For The Years.

Chart & Release Info:

UK Release: Feb 16 1957 on Philips 668 (78rpm shellac disc)
Jukebox Issue: Philips JK 1006 (45 rpm vinyl)
Highest Charted: Single UK: #8
Run: 27-24-23-12-9-9-*8*-12-19-25 (10/3 wks)

A Chart Race:

In 1956, Harry Belafonte released his version of this traditional West Indian song, called simply “Day-O”, on his best-selling LP “Calypso”. The following year it became a massive hit single in it’s own right, reaching #5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 pop charts and #2 in the UK, and it is probably thanks to him the song is now well known the world over. Shirley Bassey, however, had started performing the song in December 1955, when she joined the cast of Jack Hylton’s “Such Is Life”, a revue show in London’s West End at the Adelphi Theatre.

In late 1956, a chart race ensued amongst the different versions of “Banana Boat Song”. In the UK and America, it was Belafonte who did best. Shirley did well, though, to also reach the top 10 with her version of the song, making it her first top 10 hit in Britain. The only thing in common with Shirley and Harry’s versions seems to be the “day-o” chorus. Her version is closer, lyrically, to the version by US band the Tarriers and it is theirs which hers was clearly based on. Their version peaked at #15 in the UK and #6 in the US. Other charting versions in the US on the pop charts were by Sarah Vaughan, Fontane Sisters and Steve Lawrence.

The Tarriers:

Erik Darling, Bob Carey and Alan Arkin formed the Tarriers, who wrote Shirley’s version of Banana Boat Song. Darling arrived in New York in 1950 as a teenager and began playing folk every Sunday in lower Manhattan’s Washington Square with other musicians. It was here that he met Bob Carey in 1953; but before long Carey was drafted into the US army for service in Germany. In 1955, Darling began auditioning other musicians from Washington Square to form a new folk group. The line-up changed several times and Alan Arkin, who had already made a solo album for Elektra Records was added. They were signed to Glory Records and asked to back up balladeer Vince Martin on a song called “Cindy, Oh Cindy”. They re-arranged the song and with their input it made #9 on the Billboard pop chart. When they were allowed to record on their own, “Banana Boat Song” was a highlight of their first recording session. It was a mix of two Jamaican folk songs that Darling had heard performed in Washington Square. After a few more singles from the group that failed to have any success, their contract lapsed and Arkin left to pursue an acting career. Carey developed personal problems and in the late 1970s his body was found on a Central Park bench in New York. Arkin became a successful TV and film actor, while Darling worked as a therapist in the 1980s, releasing two albums in the late 1990s on the Folk Era label.

Lyrics:

Day-o, day-o, day de light and I wanna go home
Day-o, day-o, day de light and I wanna go home

He says loading the banana boats all night long (all night long)
Day de light and I wanna go home
Hey all the workmen sing this song (sing this song)
Day de light and I wanna go home
Day-o, day-o, day de light and I wanna go home
Day-o, day-o, day de light and I wanna go home

Hill and gully rider, hill and gully
Hill and gully rider, hill and gully

Sleep by sun and I work by moon (work by moon)
Day de light and I wanna go home
When I get some money gonna quit so soon (quit so soon)
Day de light and I wanna go home
Day-o, day-o, day de light and I wanna go home
Day-o, day-o, day de light and I wanna go home

Hill and gully rider, hill and gully
Hill and gully rider, hill and gully

Pack up all my things and I’ll go to sea (go to sea)
Day de light and I wanna go home
Then bananas’ll see the last of me (last of me)
Day de light and I wanna go home

Oh oh oh oh
Day-o, day-o, day de light and I wanna go home
Day-o, day-o, day de light and I wanna go home

Day-o, day-o, (Hill and gully rider, hill and gully)
Day de light and I wanna go home

(Repeat x2)

(Repeat to fade)

Information kindly researched and provided by Theo Morgan

Tra La La:
Written by Junior Parker
The flipside of Shirley’s first British top 10 hit, Banana Boat Song. In the charts of the 1950s, both sides of a record could chart, although unfortunately this flipside didn’t follow Banana Boat Song into the British hit parade. Sadly the song has not yet been available on CD.

The song was probably one of the first examples of Shirley covering a song from a popular American film of the time, “Rock, Rock, Rock” (1956), with others of the era being “Fire Down Below” and “As I Love You”, her first No. 1 in Britain.

In the film, a young girl, Dori, played by Tuesday Weld, tries to raise enough money to get a dress for her school prom, while her boyfriend Tommy (Teddy Randazzo) wins a talent contest and talks DJ Alan Freed (who coined the phrase “rock ‘n’ roll”) into getting a number of big acts to play there. Contemporary rock ‘n’ roll stars such as Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Chuck Berry and The Flamingos all appeared and played their songs in this film. LaVern Baker sung the song “Tra La La”

In December 1956, two versions of the song “Tra La La” charted on the Billboard Pop charts. LaVern Baker, who sung the song in the film, could only get as high as #94, but a rival version by Georgia Gibbs made it to #39.

Junior Parker:

The song was written by Junior Parker, an African-American blues singer who was born 27 May 1932. In 1952, thanks to Ike Turner, Little Junior Parker, as he was known then, got his first recording session at Modern Records. It produced the single “You’re My Angel”, and the following year him and his band, the Blue Flames came to the legendary Sun Records, who launched the careers of major acts such as Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. His time there yielded the future Elvis smash “Mystery Train”, but before long Parker had moved on to Duke Records, where he garnered his first pop hit in 1957 with “Next Time You See Me” (#74). A few more hits followed, of which the biggest was “Annie Get Your Yo-Yo”, #51 in 1962. After splitting from the label, his fortunes declined and subsequent ventures with Mercury’s Blue Rock subsidiary label and Capitol failed to make an impression with the public. He died on November 18 1971 in Chicago, Illinois, not yet 40 years old. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001.

Lyrics:

Cha cha cha
Cha cha cha cha

Cha cha cha
Cha cha cha cha

Tra la la
Tra la la
You’re as sweet as a candy bar

Tra la la
Tra la la
I’m so happy that I could cry

Tra la la
Tra la la
You’re as cute as a movie star

Tra la la
Tra la lo
I’d be crazy to let you go

Tra la la
Tra la lou
All my loving is just for you

Tra la la
Tra la lo
I wanna whistle but I don’t know how so I’m singing

Tra la la
Tra la la
I love you just the way you are

Tra la la
Tra la lee
I’m as happy as I can be

Tra la la
Tra la la
You’re as sweet as a candy bar

Tra la la
Tra la la
I’m so happy that I could cry

Tra la la
Tra la la
You’re as cute as a movie star

Tra la la
Tra la lo
I’d be crazy to let you go

Tra la la
Tra la lou
All my loving is just for you

Tra la la
Tra la lo
I wanna whistle but I don’t know how so I’m singing

Tra la la
Tra la la
I love you just the way you are

Tra la la
Tra la lee
I’m as happy as I can be

Ooh
Cha cha cha
Cha cha cha cha
Tra la la la la la

Information kindly researched and provided by Theo Morgan

Banana boat song 1

Banana boat song 2

Banana boat song 3

Banana boat song 4

***

3 thoughts on “FROM THE ARCHIVE 232 -1957-”

  1. Dame Shirley has certainly been around a long time and today she is as fabulous as ever….long live DSB….in my opinion there will never be another singer/ performer that can touch her status!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Everything you say above Pruette, i agree DSB as been around a Long Time , & there will never ever be another SINGER/ ENTERTAINER Like her.
    , What FANTASTIC information is included Here ,in this ARCHIVE,,
    In 1956, I was Working as a [ Junior Projectionist ] In My LOCAL CINEMA , I Was a Mere [ LAD Of 16 Years Old ] & was Showing the Film , ROCK ROCK ROCK , with the Actress TUESDAY WELD,and as i was Living in an AREA OF BIRMINGHAM [ U.K] Called [ ALUM ROCK,], The CINEMA was Called , YES ,{ THE ROCK, } Now Demolished.
    The Next Film Was FIRE DOWN BELOW, 1957 With RITA HAYWORTH Which Shirley of course Recorded & had a Big Hit, in the Chart’s i Have Both on 78 R.P.M RECORD’S , on the PHILLIP’S LABEL,
    , That was My Beginning on the LONG FANTASTIC CAREER ,Of DSB , a ROAD of which i am still TRAVELLING Along With DSB, now Both From our TEENAGE YEARS ,[ MID 1950’s To our MID 1970’s] Please God may it Continue, I Can Not Think of a Life WITHOUT DSB being Part of My Life , She as Always Been In My Life, It’s UNTHINKABLE.
    Thanks as always to Pieter & the Team , For Giving Us BASSEY FANS ,
    What we CRAVE For.

    DENNIS , { JERSEY CHANNEL ISLANDS }
    .

    Liked by 1 person

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