Thursday, June 23, 2016

40 Year Itch : Slum Street Soccer

Jorge Ben : Ponta de Lança Africano (Umbabarauma) 

Inspired by his 1975 tour of Africa where he met Fela Kuti, Jorge Ben's Africa Brasil somehow manages to combine the best of African rhythms and American funk with Brazilian samba.  The standout track, "Ponta de Lança Africano (Umbabarauma)", is about a mythical African soccer star, playing in the slums.  Like a lot of people, I first hear the song on the David Byrne compilation Brazil Classics : Beleza Tropical, a great place for anyone to start their Brazilian collection. The lyrics of Umbabarauma hardy conceal some kind of mysterious intelligence:

Jump, jump, fall, get up, go up and get down 
Run, kick, find a hole, thrill and give thanks 
See how the whole city empties out 
On this beautiful afternoon to watch you play 

Jorge Ben revisits his 1972 song "Taj Mahal" on Africa Brasil. This is the song Rod Stewart admitted to "unconsciously plagiarizing " for his 1979 smash "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?".

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