Bandolero – Paris Latino
Joséphine blanche, robe rouge et noire
Danse avec le reflet du miroir
Arrivé direct from Mexico, Don Diego de La Vega
Z comme Zorro
The words Zorro and saloon introduce us to a fantastic hit. It was September 1983 when a song that really represented one of the great magic of the 80s entered the charts in most Europe. The magic of taking an unknown group or singer, who for some strange reason finds the secret ingredient never found before, maybe even with the right video, and suddenly the group or singer go to the top of the charts, and the song becomes one of the unforgettable icons of the 80s.
Then the spell ends, and we remain with the story of one great success. Just like it happened to Baltimora and “Tarzan Boy“, to Aneka and “Japanese Boy“, to Picnic at the Whitehouse and “We need protection“, and many others. One of the most striking examples, but also the most pleasant to remember, is undoubtedly Bandolero and “Paris Latino”.
A fantastic song, a weird and unknown group. I mean, this group was so weird and unknown that it was difficult to understood what was the title of the song and what the name of the group, because the song mentioned both in the lyrics! Some said they were French, some Spanish, some Mexicans… and in fact it was a French production, and the main elements of the group were two Spanish brothers, Carlos and José Perez. The atmospheres in the lyrics and the video call to mind the Mexican saloons, so the confusion was more than legitimate, and at the time there was really no other information about this group.
The text was mainly in French, but with parts in English and with something Spanish in the middle, like the famous refrain chorus. A weird language mix, a bit like what Falco did with English, German, and some other languages. The atmosphere is exotic: lyrics talk about this saloon where people dance, sing, and drink cuba libre among folk characters: Josephine dressed in red and black dancing in front of the mirror, when from Mexico comes Don Diegò de la Vegà, Z like Zorro. There is also room for Miss Cha Cha Cha, the playmate of the month, and especially for Doctor B, who we discover to be the rapper performing the second part of the song.
Why, with all this confusion, “Paris Latino” had this incredible success? Personally, I have my theory. It’s not just a beautiful song, it definitely has an irresistible rhythm, and it’s certainly very funky. I think much of the credit goes to the author of the final mix, that John “Jellybean” Benitez who left his mark on the funky early 80s with really irresistible arrangements, such as “Holiday” by Madonna. Don’t you find that the rhythmic base of “Holiday” and “Paris Latino” have a common structure?
“Paris Latino”, completely unexpected, sold over three million copies, and entered right into the soundtracks of several movies of the 80s, and in the collective memory of us dinosaurs. Isn’t this a real magic?
Bandolero on Wikipedia