Posted by Amelia Swhizzagers On 2:14 AM
One of the reasons why we hear so little of beat/rock examples from Middle Eastern and Arab countries is not that there exists no examples, because especially in the 60s and seventies more or less the whole world was open to modern experiments, but that many of such scenes quickly closed down in many countries and were replaced by fascist or other extremely limiting-the-freedom-of-creative-expressions Regimes. This happened already once in Europe, in Germany, Italy, Spain and Greece, with very restricting regimes trying to root out to impure influences mostly for intellectual and economic control, before the fifties after the first wave of freedom (twenties and thirties), but it happened also in many places near the end of the seventies, in almost every Latin American country, and in the Middle East where this time America was involved for economic and power control reasons, with a Russian communist influence on the other hand in the far East and some other Middle Eastern countries for the same reasons. The Arab countries distinguished at first from what was associated with the western kind freedom, so traces of rock music were destroyed or kept secret or remained vulnerable, kept away from associations with or interest from the west. Now in a time where extreme opinions are finally getting criticised for the first time, and materialism of Western Society is embraced, it is the right time to show the world again the great possibilities of creative cooperations with standards that not necessary should be related to western standards, but that are creative expressions that is too great not to share with the whole world, or those pockets of intelligent beings in any culture who see culture as a global process.
Of course there are 2 tracks listed from The Cea-ders (later Ceaders). I still remember how M.J.Coumans from Grey Past Records traced one of the members, hoping for a reissue of their complete works. He found out how more unreleased tracks still existed on reel to reel tape. However, the unrealistic amount of money demanded for a use of the recordings for a reissue (probably learned from Madonna related figures of money making) made such a release impossible. They also never made much money with their songs despite some hits in Lebanon, interest from the UK, and a huge hit from a cover by Mavi Isiklar in Turkey. When they were invited to the UK and didn’t make the amount of money the company expected, they charged them all the bills (so they left all their instruments and fled to Lebanon). Somehow I can try to understand how it still didn't fit in with the general public of beat and psychpop lovers ; maybe the fast rhythm section, for some Western ears, demanded a different kind of listening or comprehension. Some might find this too complex and even a bit nervous when this wild & clear energy is heard. On “Thanks a lot” we hear what marvellous distinguished sounds they had, with their Byrds/Beatle-esque style with a super-fast complexity of rhythms and some use of oud. The second track, “Undecidedly” also shows an inspiration with Middle Eastern rhythms to a beat/psych styled song, and great guitars.
Many more Lebanese groups are listed. Lebanon is one of those few Middle Eastern countries who kept as far as I know a certain openness, although the tensions in surrounding countries can be felt here too, so that there still remains a restricted protectiveness of what there is. All the listed groups from the late 60s sung in English. These are, in the order of appearance, Simon C.Edwards & His Soul Set, who have one track listed: garagy rock with raw & tough soul vocals, with an additional sax and trumpet arrangement to it, and a second, more rocking track, with fine organ solos. Secondly we have The Kool Kats, with a more typical but still cool mid 60s mod record, The News, with a great and groovy psychpop tune with lots of funky psych electronic and organ effects, and electronically deformed vocals, Tony Franks & The Hippin’ Souls, a fine 60s mod single with ballad-like vocals, rather upbeat rhythms, wordless oo-aa vocal harmonies, and last but not least, Ray Psyah a great early 70s styled psych/rock with organ, great fuzz guitars, and some jazzy flute improvisation.
From Persia/Iran we have a tune from Kourosh (Yaghmaie), one of my favourite artists from Iran, with a different version from the track also to be found on his highly recommended CD compilation of early works (which I reviewed on next page), a laid back psych tune indeed with beautiful fuzz solos with organ. Second group is Raks, reminding me a bit of Touareg guitar music, with more African kind of handclap rhythms and group singing and electric guitar but also with psych organ to it.
It must be said that Iranian singles are almost impossible to find because every trace of the period where Western influences were embraced and opened up with likewise trans-cultural communicative visions were completely destroyed by the so called new “social” revolution.
From the Arab part of Northern African we have two tracks from El-Abranis from Algeria (a country which knew mostly ethno-folk and folk-rock artists that could experiment and record in France). This is true Arab rock (=psych) with electric instruments, drums and organ, using a Middle Eastern feel in the small details of the rhythms. Also the second song is similar, both with Arab vocals. This is followed by the Egyptian Nai Bonnet, a single published in the US ; style : electric garage psych belly dance.
Also the US, in the 60s and 70s, some local groups afforded freely to embrace on their turn their Arab influences and cooperations (until the Munich Olympics 1972). Most known is Khareem Issaq & Middle Eastern Rock, with their Devil's Anvil’s LP (reviewed on next page), of which this label found an off-LP single. It has a different, and much more fuzzed version of one of the best LP tracks, Arab ethno-rock/psych. Arab members came from Armenia and other Arab countries. Another Armenian/American mix can be heard on the single track “Morocco” which says is arranged and conducted by John R. Argypoulos (Greek or Armenian?) and produced by Russ Miller. It is a fantastic short wild psychedelic track with North African belly-dance rhythms, crazy lilililil vocals in the breaks. Also the second side is great psych with electric bouzouki??, belly dance rhythms.
I hope that this is the tip of the iceberg and that some countries finally will show their treasures like Ali Baba and his cave. I truly hope time is right for this ambitious task that could open up doors to different societies in a creative way once more.
1 Sea-ders - Thanks a Lot 2:50
2 El Abranis - Athedjaladde 3:53
3 Simon C. Edwards and His Soul Set - I Got You 2:50
4 Morocco - Ela Tho 2:31
5 Kourosh Yaghmaei - Dil Dasa Per Mesha 2:53
6 The Kool Kats - Step Out 2:06
7 Nai Bonet - The Seventh Veil 1:46
8 Tony Franks and the Hippin' Souls - Last Night 3:45
9 The News - From the Moon 2:35
10 Raks - Raks Dance 2:31
11 Kareem Issaq & Middle Eastern Rock - Besaha 1:48
12 Ray Psyah - Deep Down Inside 2:45
13 Sea-ders - Undecidedly 2:12
14 El Abranis - Ayetheri a L'afjare 2:31
15 Simon C. Edwards and His Soul Set - The Way I Do 2:28
16 Morocco - Opa Kukla 2:37