Fun South American sounds: sailors channel Colombians

by Bernard O'Shea

A popular music genre in Colombia and other parts of South and Central America is cumbia. Funnily enough, my first introduction to it came from Sailor, an English pop band with a Norwegian-born singer and guitarist, Georg Kajanus. Although Sailor are best known for their mid-1970s hits A Glass of Champagne and Girls, Girls, Girls (great songs), they have always seemed to have an interest in Latin rhythms – for example, on songs such as Panama and Vera from Veracruz. Here is Sailor’s take on cumbia, La Cumbia, one of their more popular songs from the period after they reunited in the late 1980s. It’s very catchy.

If you are interested in South American culture, there is an excellent website Sounds and Colours . Its explanation of cumbia can be read here. That article sings the praises of Lucho Bermudez (1912-1994), so here is a medley of some of Lucho’s most popular compositions.

For something a bit more modern, here is some “technocumbia” from Bomba Estéreo; it’s probably their best known track, Fuego.

To see a cumbia dance in a more natural setting, here is footage of a public performance in the streets of Cartagena.

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