After the arrival of ‘The Bandit of Brazil’ to American shores through Lima Barreto’s 1953 film, the song took some rather unexpected twists and turns. These two versions offer very different takes on the song from some surprising American artists.
In 1964 American folk singer Joan Baez included her own version of ‘The Bandit of Brazil’ on her LP ‘5’. Instead of covering the English lyrics, as featured on Tex Ritter’s and The Shadows’ versions, Baez, perhaps seeking authenticity, went back to Zé do Norte’s Portuguese language arrangement. Inspired by the soundtrack to the film, Baez recorded the song as ‘O Cangaceiro’ instead of ‘Mulher Rendeira’. This simple vocals/guitar version mirrors Baez’s folk background, while her Portuguese pronunciation is much closer to the Brazilian original than other recordings by American bands, perhaps due to her Mexican heritage.
The second version comes from a very little known American psychedelic pop band called The Eighth Day, formerly known as The Sons of Liberty. The song appeared on the band’s one and only LP, titled (unsurprisingly) On The Eighth Day, released in 1967 and featuring the now renowned arranger/composer Artie Butler, who’s name is credited to songs such as ‘Copacabana’ and ‘What a Wonderful World’. However, frustrated by the lengthy recording process, the core members of the band (five boys from Ohio), left New York without having completed the recording of the album.
In reality, only six of the eleven tracks were actually recorded by The Eighth Day and the rest of the album, including ‘The Bandit of Brazil’, was recorded by members of a group called Opus 4. The LP went on to be released, credited to The Eighth Day, but the original members of the band disbanded and never recorded under the name again. I particularly like this version for its ‘Mexican’ feel (the soaring trumpets, the rhythm and the vocal harmonies), leading to even more confusing cultural connotations.
‘Adio..o cangachero…The bandit of Brazil’