Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 37, No 21. August 28, 1974
The Banana Boat Song:
The Banana Boat Song:
The beats had Kerowac, the liberals have Ginsberg but the black man has Belafonte. The Banana Boat Song' is a 78 recording eminently worthy of attention as it brings to the fore the black man's struggle to throw off years of oppression and exploitation by the white man. One can see the generations of toil and misery of these people in the simple but powerfully moving line — 'Daylight comes and I wanna go home". Well then, you may ask — why doesn't he go home. The answer to that comes very soon after — showing the brilliance in composition of this masterpiece — he is barred from going home by the overbearing cruel and ruthless overseer who, typical of the white man in his disregard of the indignities and sufferings of these people holds this humble and honest worker in utter contempt refusing to come along and dismiss him — 'Come Mr Tallyman — tally the banana' is the plaintive cry born of hours upon hours of backbreaking labour carrying 'six foot — seven foot' yes even eight foot branches of bananas for little or no return.
Tony Scott's orchestra and chorus complement Belafonte's lament wonderfully well giving an undertone and beat reminescent of a bantu folk gathering on a wild African night with perfect renditions of negroid harmonizing, Millard Thomas' guitar playing reflects a deep awareness and understanding of black man rhythm which goes far beyond other forms of music in its true mood and feeling which one could call soul. In all, on listening to this one wanders how it could even be bettered. The answer is simple, just turn the record over and discover 'Star-O' which like 'The Banana Boat Song' tells it like it was and is but goes further by suggesting that the black man is being even further oppressed and exploited than was evident in 'The Banana Boat Song' because the tally man never came along and now this black man weary in body and spirit cries that now that he has worked all night and all day — night is falling once more and still the tally man has not tallied the bananas. Will he tally the bananas? I don't know and by his previous record he probably won't but we must wait for Belafonte's sequel to this to find out. This is a record that is a must for all people of conscience — this should become the guiding light in fact the 're book' of all those concerned about freedom and justice and besides it makes a damn good ash tray when curled at the edges.