Ignored, Maligned, and Forgotten Music

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King of Bongo - Mano Negra and More

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Legbamel Not-Pop

When I first heard Manu Chao singing Bongo Bong, I loved the song but couldn't figure out why it sounded so familiar. Imagine my surprise when I uncovered an earlier song from Mano Negra titled King of Bongo with exactly the same lyrics but without the repetitive "je ne t'aime plus" ending. Imagine my further surprise at learning that the singers of King of the Bongo and Bongo Bong sound so much alike because they are, in fact, both the same man.

Manu Chao headed Mano Negra throughout the late 80s and early 90s and then later recorded the song on a solo effort in 1998. Apparently Mano Negra enjoyed wide popularity in France but, despite some really stellar tracks, never hit the big time elsewhere. There is, of course, the fabulously-weird cover by Palast Orchester with Max Raabe. Then Robbie Williams did a version of Bongo Bong with the French ending Manu Chao added to his solo cover of himself. All in all, I thought this a worthy list to share with you all on a quiet Sunday night. Let me know which version you like best. I'll admit that the campy Palast Orchester did give me a giggle or two but that I like the original.

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