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Lou Bega

Posted in MusicWorld on October 31, 1999 by

Lou Bega's RCA debut may be titled A Little Bit of Mambo, but that's definitely misleading advertising. There's a whole lot of Mambo going on throughout the 13-song album, a veritable two-count celebration of Bega's love of the fairer sex (and the inevitable reciprocation). The album opener and first single, "Mambo No. 5," sets the swinging groove for the entire project; indeed, Bega wrote this song first and then created the rest of the tracks to complement the mambo-type atmosphere.

Truly a global phenomenon, "Mambo No. 5" has rocketed to #1 in every European country (it ruled in Germany, where Bega lives) and sold more than 2 million copies; so far, it's peaked at #1 in Billboard and has been jumped on by ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox for use in promotional spots and sports highlights clips. The song is based on a 1950s instrumental by Cuban mambo king Perez Prado, who happens to be Bega's musical hero; Bega and co-lyricist Zippy created a trumpeting anthem to his philosophy of life: "There is more beauty around us than we can possibly imagine. And . . . there is nothing more beautiful in all of God's creation then women!"

Following close to beauty on Bega's list of favorite things is fun, and his music is created for "grooving and swinging - pure fun!" His high-flying style is not limited to music: Bega's white pin-stripe suit, polka-dot tie and handkerchief, spats and Borsalino hat insure that his look is as distinctive as his music. Born to a Ugandan father and a Sicilian mother, he grew up listening to soul and reggae. At 18 he arrived in Miami and discovered true love with the Mambo classics. Afro-Cuban rhythms, swing, soul and rap are mixed throughout A Little Bit of Mambo in such infectious tunes as "I Got a Girl," "Can I Tico Tico You," "1+1=2" and "Tricky, Tricky."

Bega offers this album as a high-concentrate infusion of "joie de vivre": "There is nothing better than to go out and dance the mambo. With the right partner at your side, the fire is alite!"