Lost links & Re-ups

On any post, if the link is no longer good, leave a comment if you want the music re-uploaded. As long as I still have the file, or the record, cd, or cassette to re-rip, I will gladly accommodate in a timely manner all such requests.

Slinging tuneage like some fried or otherwise soused short-order cook

30 April 2013


Ahmed Khelifati Mohamed (Arabic: أحمد خليفاتي محمد) is a native of Saida, a small village in southwest Algeria, born in the Graba-el-wed quarter in 1966. He is one of the chief practitioners of Raï (Arabic: راي‎). In fact, he is known as “the Prince of Raï”. Raï  is a form of folk music that originated in Oran, Algeria from Bedouin shepherds. It combines Spanish, Moroccan, French, & Arabic influences to create its dance-inspiring sounds. It dates back to the 1930s. Singers of raï are called Cheb (shabab – meaning young) as opposed to Sheikh (shaykh - meaning old), the name given to Chaabi singers. So Khelifati became internationally know as Cheb Mami.

His music has been described as “Arabic rock & roll retaining virtues of traditional music but infused with urban urgency. As perhaps Rai's most popular vocalist, he is one of the leaders of the pack, turning the genre into a futuristic dance/funk hybrid with the power to pack the dance floors of North Africa, Paris, & New York.

One of the finest records of the wildly-heralded Raï movement, Meli Meli is a true vocal lovers record. Mami's voice is one of the most versatile, emotional, & powerful in world-pop music. He has a three-octave vocal range. He displays it on such songs as "H'Rabti" & "Parisien Du Nord". The album was released in France where it went platinum. Meli Meli shows why Mami is one of the most respected middle-Eastern artists.

Cheb Mami – Meli Meli, Virgin 7243 8 47123 2 7, 1998. 
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Tracklist –

Meli Meli  
Alache Alik  
Rani Maàk El Youm  
Hada Ch'Hal  
Azwaw 2  
Parisien du Nord (remix)  
Marseillais du Nord  
Au Pays des Merveillus (Azwaw)  
Azwaw (alternative mix)


Born into a poor Muslim household in Algiers, Algeria in 1972, Souad Massi spent her formative years in Bab el-Oued, a suburb of Algiers, as one of seven siblings. She absorbed a love of music from her piano-playing brother who, despite protestations from their father, convinced their less traditional-minded mother that the guitar lessons she yearned for were worth the investment. By 1992, with Algeria in a brutal civil war & a 7 p.m. curfew in place nationwide, Massi's dreams of mastering her instrument seemed dashed; attending lessons was all but impossible, especially given her sex & her Muslim-unfriendly jeans-&-sneakers style.

But life as a semi shut-in had its advantages for Massi. Instead of stifling her creative instincts, it magnified them. The artist, like many introspective prisoners, dug deep. Through careful attention to movie Westerns like The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly, for example, Massi amassed a collection of favorite sounds. Soundtrack-derived country & folk songs led to the radio, where she sought out American roots music. Strumming along eventually made her proficient enough to join her first band, a flamenco outfit with which she quickly grew bored. Abandoning that watered-down group would lead to a life altering musical choice. 

Massi signed on to front Atakor, a heavy rock band with political leanings. Her seven years with Atakor earned her a troublemaker's reputation in fundamentalist Algeria, where she quickly became the target of spitting & general scorn. 

As the band called more attention to itself with what some considered inflammatory lyrics, danger mounted. Atakor's equipment was routinely snatched at false road blocks. Massi, who had disguised herself by cutting off her hair & camouflaging her body with men’s clothing, nevertheless became the target of death threats after the release of a late 90s Atakor cassette.

By 2000, Massi fled to Paris. Though she took part in that city's "Femmes d'Algerie" concert as a new arrival, she was contemplating a life outside music at the time. A quick-acting Island Records executive who extended a contract changed her mind. In 2001, Massi's solo debut, Raoui, was released on the U.K.'s Wrasse Records label. Like its follow-up, 2003's Deb, also on Wrasse, it concerned itself with the personal rather than the political. Melancholy ballads sung in Arabic, French, & English typically melted into rock, folk, flamenco, & classical backdrops. Those sensitive-minded reflections on love & loss, set to achingly sweet sounds that stray far from North Africa's traditional, pounding rai rhythms, also light up Mesk Elil (Wrasse), Massi's 2006 release. If Massi's personal transformation & her mastery of genre-jumbling is impressive, her voice is no less so on all three of her discs: the flavors of Merita Halili, Karla Bonoff, & Basia that float through are as universally appealing as the story of her struggle to secure artistic freedom.

Souad Massi – Deb (Heartbroken), Island Records - Wrasse, 2003.
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Tracklist –
Ya Kelbi
Passe le Temps
Ghir Enta
Ech Edani
Le Bien et le Mal
Bel el Madhi


ps. - Due to my fantastic filing abilities, I couldn't find one of the items I was going to post up for Algeria. Then today as I was looking for a record that someone else requested elsewhere, I found this. More Raï, but who can get enough, right?

Various Artists - 1970's Algerian Proto-Raï Underground, Sublime Frequencies SFo45LP, 2008. 
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29 April 2013


Ahmed Fakroun (Arabic: أحمد فكرون‎) was born in 1953 in the Libyan city of Benghazi. He first began singing daily prayers. From there his interest grew, & he learned many instruments. He plays the bouzouki-like saz, the mandol & the darbouka drum, as well as guitar, bass guitar & keyboards.

Fakroun looked set to make his mark in world music circles in the mid-1980s when his album Mots D'Amour was recorded & released. It combines traditional Arab instruments & melodies with electronic music & dance rhythms. It was released on the Celluloid label in France.

Then came the US aerial bombings of Libya in April 1986, followed by years of international sanctions against Muammar al-Gaddafi & Libya. Evidence surfaced in the international media of terrorist links. This information turned Libya's government into a pariah of the West. It seriously impeded its citizens' freedom of movement. 

Ahmed has stated: "To take a plane to go from my home town to any part of the world, I had to go across the Tunisian border to Jerboa, about 700km, or take a boat to Malta overnight, then travel the next day to the other part of the planet. Imagine the rest of the story."

Ahmed was one of the most talented singers in modern Arabic electro-pop. Record companies did manage to market Arabic pop to international music fans at that time, but Fakroun missed out. Instead, all the action came from neighboring Algeria, as Khaled, Cheb Mami & others introduced the world to the North African sound known as raï music.

However, among raï singers, the pop-oriented Ahmed Fakroun’s style was superior to most all the other practitioners. He was greatly influenced by Euro-pop & French art-rock, not just the generalized rock of the others. Also, he had his multi-instrumental abilities as well as being a singer in both Western & Eastern traditions. At his best, his crossover style deepens into dramatically moving bi-culturalism.

 Ahmed Fakroun – Mots D’Amour, Celluloid 66835-1,1983.
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Face A –

Jama El F'Na
Kalimat Hob
Fil Moden El Kibira

Face B –

Love Words
Soleil Soleil
Ya Farhi' Bik
O Ounic


Abdel Hamid Ali Ahmed El Shari (Arabic:حميد الشاعري), known as Hamid Al Sha’ery, is a Libyan musician & singer. He was born in the Libyan city of Benghazi in 1961. He studied aviation in England, then went on to studied music in Cairo. He emigrated to Egypt in 1974 after witnessing Colonel Gadaffi’s public burning of western musical instruments. As a refugee from his own country’s hostile anti-modern policies, he steadily made a name for himself as a champion of westernized synthesizer pop, known as Al-jil (generation music). Al-jil is a blend of samplers & synthesizers tempered by a distinctively Middle Eastern melodic sound. His 1988 hit single, “Lolaiki,” sold more than a million cassettes between 1988 & 1989. He is truly one of the founders of modern Arabic music.

Hamid Al Sha’ery –Raheel, Slam! – FS4 - 87, 1984.
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Tracklist –

Wein Ayamak Wein
Ya Bonya Khashety Baly
Ya Ghaly
Ya La Yemin
Ya Markeb El Ghaye
Geit Ya Sheta
La Ma Nasina 
Ya Saheb


28 April 2013


North Africa has contributed much to popular music: Egyptian classical & el Gil; Algerian raï & Moroccan chaabi. The region of North Africa (with the exception of Egypt) is referred to as the Maghreb. For mostly political & religious reasons popular musick has seen its fair share of oppression. Yet music still thrives there despite frequent condemnation & suppression from the respective governments. Modern music blends with time honored traditional styles from groups like the Berbers, the Sephardic Jews, Tuaregs, & Nubians, retaining musical traditions with ancient roots.

 Hundreds of miles of sparkling white beaches along the blue Mediterranean laps only a few steps away & the rattle of palm fronds in the wind is the only sound. Then we enter the beautiful Gulf of Tunis at the port of Halq al Wadi. On to Tunis, the capital of Tunisia. The central part of Tunis is the century old medina, a dense agglomeration of alleys & covered passages, full of intense scents & colors. Beyond this district lie the suburbs of Carthage, La Marsa, & Sidi Bou Said. Exotic Tunisia. Just the thoughts of Tunisia brings forth music to the mind.

The colonialist French had deep roots in the North Africa region, particularly in Morocco, Algeria, Libya, & Tunisia. The French love of jazz firmly gripped many in Tunisia. Every jazz enthusiast is familiar with “Night in Tunisia” by Dizzy Gillespie. Well, here is some jazz you might actually hear some night in Tunisia.

For more than forty years Fawzi Chekili has worked for the promotion of jazz in Tunisia. He plays mainly the guitar, but also the piano & the ùd.

The ùd or oud is a pear-shaped stringed instrument commonly used in many Mediterranean countries. It is prevalent throughout North Africa. The ùd lacks frets & has a smaller neck than the South European lute. It is considered an ancestor of the guitar.

According to Abū Nar Muammad ibn Muammad Fārābī, a late 9th to mid 10th Century scientist, philosopher, cosmologist, logician, & musician, the ùd was invented by Lamech, the sixth grandson of Adam. Legend tells that the grieving Lamech hung the body of his dead son from a tree. The first ùd was inspired by the shape of his son's bleached skeleton. The oldest pictorial record of a ùd appears on a cylindrical seal dating back to the Uruk period in southern Mesopotamia over 5000 years ago.

While studying English Letters in the U.K., Fawzi Chekili became impassioned with music & jazz in particular. Currently a professional musician & teacher in Tunis, he is active both locally & internationally. With over ten albums to his credit, Fawzi Chekili blends the colors of his native Tunisia with the sophisticated harmony of jazz.

Fawzi Chekili – Taqasim, Blue Jasmin, 1993.
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Tracklist –

Malouf Funk                          
Selma's Mosaic                                   
Hafla Jazz      


Ghalia Benali was born in Brussels in 1968. At age three she moved with her family to the south of Tunisia. Here she grew up in an artistic family. Early on she was introduced to music & poetry : French chanson, Egyptian & Indian musicals;  melodies from Syria; the Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum; & the sung readings from the Koran. Even as a toddler she sang & performed Arabian & Indian dances at family parties.
Ghalia is one of the musical surprises to emerge from the Arab world at the turn of the millennium. A successful actress, she played a leading role in the film “La saison des homes”.  Her highly acclaimed concerts in Tunis, Paris, & Brussels had the record companies queuing up to sign her, but she preferred to wait until she had found her dream line-up.

Thus the formation of Timnaa, an international ensemble whose virtuoso fiddles, flamenco guitars & Arab percussion carry her expressively smoky, profoundly emotional voice from Tunisia to the world.

Ghalia herself describes Timnaa as “Arab music in new form, sometimes festive but never profane, occasionally romantic & elegiac, or even classical & medieval, sometimes wild & over the top – a passport to many cultures, a microcosm that merges the centuries into something new”.

 Ghalia Benali – Roméo & Leila,Music & Words KMKL2006001, 2006.
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Tracklist –

Lennass Aideen
Ya M’safer
Romeo & Leila
Kitabi Ya Sidi Ya Baba



26 April 2013

Goodbye Europe

This weekend I will proceed onward to Africa. First stop is Tunisia, directly across from Malta, the smallest country in North Africa. Long under colonial rule, then under less than democratic principles, Tunisia was the starting point for the 2011 Arab Spring.

Oh, yeah, by the way...the one music that I really kinda shied away from the whole journey around Europe were those crazy Italo-Euro-disco-dance hits. Well, I didn't really mean to skip any of my dear visitors who happen to lean that way, even if I don't. It was an oversight that one of my Europhilecentric Cali frenz pointed out to me. To make up for it before I move on, here're some tunes Tony Manero would give a yo! thumbs up. This thing is into the 60+ volumes so far & counting. Here are the first ten...

European Maxi Single Hit Collection
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Volume 1


25 April 2013


Well, I don’t know about all of you, but this journey so far has been quite the learning experience for me. I’ve listened to musick that I’ve never heard before now, learned about the history & politics that aided or hindered the creation of musickal ideas. I had fun with the Valkenvanian April Fool’s & the Secret search beneath the Vatican (What did anyone expect? Unknown punk or death metal bands in the world’s smallest & most unilaterally religious country? C’mon.). Finally reached the last country in Europe. Nestled in the midst of the Middle Earth Sea, what a place to catch my breath before setting out on a safari into the Musick of Africa. Out of respect for this passage of discovery, I’ve decided to post up some Old Skool punk rawk & some ancient/modern traditional folk melodies here on the island of Malta.

Let us travel back to 1979. Like the true punk foremoshers from jolly old England, Erich il-Punk, the crust behind Abstrass, started out jamming with friends at his house. This lasted only long enough for all the neighbors to complain to the Marsa Police station boys about ‘noise pollution’. Then it was out on the streets for Erich.

Shortly Erich was crashing in the streets or at the fortress. He hung with the other punks at the time at their hangouts at the Valletta lazy corner, on the Triton Fountain, at the Imperial Cafe’, or at the squatted fortress of Tigne’ point in Sliema. Tigne’ Fortress had been used for storing torpedoes during the occupation of the British forces in Malta. Later on the Maltese government & some cultural association gave permission for local bands to take the huts & turn them into rehearsal rooms to form the Rokarja AST project. Every year most of the bands that rehearsed at Tigne’ participated in a three day Rock-A-Buzz Festival. At the time, Maltese punk was simply chaos & noise. So amongst the bands that rehearsed at Tigne’ Fortress, there were violent clashes with the skinheads & rockabillys, with the ‘Teds’ & the ‘New Romantics’.

Erich wanted what all good punks wanted at the time…he formed a band. As you can imagine, the scene in Malta was very primitive. There were only four punk bands at that time: Abstrass, The Unemployed, the Rifffs, & Davey Jones (who played ska & new wave punk). At that time there were only a handful of gigs happening.

Unfortunately, by the mid-80s apathy had taken over the still infant scene. The old veterans from the scene died, left the country, or went into hibernation. The punk scene nearly vanished. If not for Abstrass doing their occasional gig, the scene probably would have completely vanished. Performances at the Rock-A-Buzz Festival, Manoel Island, Rock Café, The Edge & the Rebel Riders Festival in 2002 maintained the Abstrass tradition of sporadic but keenly expected (not to mention well-attended) live performances, partly due to Eric’s particular vocal style & spur-of-the-moment onstage antics. Over the years Abstrass went through many line-up changes. By the summer of 1986, the line-up had firmed to a core trio consisting of Erich il-Punk – vocals, Ray il-Bahri – guitar & vocals, & Ray il-Hamiemu -drums with someone different on bass until 2001 when James in-Nemlu joined for good.

As it was, it took 25 years to release their only cd entitled Hard to Understand. Strangely enough for a crusty street punk band, Hard to Understand is a concept album.The tracks on the cd revolve around the world of an ordinary individual’s struggle to get through the day while trying to cope with all sorts of worries, ranging from social injustice, spiritual tension, & impending global issues. The cd went over really well with the local punks because Abstrass had mixed their 80s style with new tunes that still remained faithful to their old school punk rock style.

Abstrass – Hard to Understand, Reciprocal Records, 2005.
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Tracklist –

Hard to Understand
Wish I Never Be (Existed)
Under Pressure
The Bastards’ Lies
Going Underground
Murder in the Vatican
Malta’s Burning
Blair’s Bullshit
Make Love not War

Bonus tracks –
Generation Terrorist
World Downfall
(Bomb) Conclusion


Etnika is one of Malta’s leading modern folk bands, founded in 2000. The four founding members were composer Ruben Żahra, traditional instrument maker Ġużi Gatt, researcher Steve Borġ, & musician Andrew Alamango. The project’s roots started forming in 1999, when researcher Steve Borġ identified a collection of old Maltese songs at the library musical archives at King's College London. The melodies had been published by Welshman Edward Jones around 1807.

Borġ presented the material to Żahra & the others. They were intrigued with the idea of reviving these forgotten songs.

Composer Ruben Żahra had just returned to Malta after years of academic studies at the Conservatorio di Musica di Frosinone, the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome & the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena.

Folklorist Ġużi Gatt at almost the same time was intrigued by an article he had discovered written in 1977 by two British students J.K. Partridge & Frank Jeal, entitled 'The Maltese Żaqq' which they published in The Galpin Society Journal. The article detailed the demise of the Maltese bagpipe, the żaqq. The article remains one of the most scholarly & informative works written about the instrument. The authors also noted that the Maltese people in general showed little interest in their own folk culture, with little or no interest in preserving its own native bagpipe. This fact deeply disturbed Gatt, a traditional instrument maker by trade. He sought out Toni Cachia Il-Ħammarun from Naxxar. Toni was one of Malta's remaining Maltese bagpipe builders & musicians. Well into his eighties at the time, he had been playing the traditional instrument since the late 1920s. Cachia agreed to help Gatt in his quest of saving the żaqq from extinction.

All these diverse developments converged to form Etnika, under Żahra’a musical guidance. They gave their first public concert during the Evenings on Campus Festival on August 29, 2000 at the Atriju Vassalli at the University of Malta. From this performance, their debut release Nafra came to life.

The album has eleven instrumental tracks, three of which were taken from the Edward Jones's publication of 1807 that Steve Borġ had discovered in London. Etnika focuses on the resurrection of Maltese traditional instruments & music. The idea is to use the ancient instruments together with that of other classical & modern instruments in order to create a new Maltese repertoire. The music portrays a unique synthesis between ethnic timbre & contemporary composition.

Among the instruments used are: żaqq (bagpipe); zummara (reed pipe);  flejguta (whistle flute); zafzafa (friction drum); & tanbur - (a drum). These are combined with flute, clarinet, violin, guitar, piano, accordion, tuba & percussion to create a totally new way of making Maltese music.

Nafra features Ruben Żahra on żaqq & other traditional instruments, Godfrey Mifsud on clarinet, Mario Frendo on violin, David Grech on guitar, Tricia Dawn Williams on piano, Jason Fabri on drums, & Joe Camilleri l-Bibi on percussion. Original compositions are by Ruben Żahra, using the traditional melodies as a starting point, but expanding them in the tradition of Piazzolla, Copeland, Ives, & Bregovic.

Etnika is an ongoing process, which is committed to the promotion & awareness of Malta’s music heritage. It is based on the hypothesis of an instrumental form of music, which was played in the past by roving musicians, on instruments indigenous to the islands. Central to this program is the faithful reconstruction of ethnic Maltese instruments & their projection onto a contemporary platform through performances. Most of their work now falls under the catch-all banner of Soundscapes, which includes: Nafra – a new band of Ruben Żahra’s that is the international performing arm of Soundscapes; Crossbreed – another band that blends traditional & contemporary musical styles, consisting of some members (like Tricia Dawn Williams) from the original Etnika 2000 show; & two projects, Icons & Pan – multimedia productions combining music, theater, dance, & video under the musical & artistic direction of Ruben Żahra. They are working diligently to preserve & revive a near-dying musical heritage.

Etnika – Nafra, self-produced, 2000.
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Tracklist –
Raghaj (rai)
Interludju II
L-Ghanja tal-Mewg
Interludju III
Hidden Track (Gheluq)

Adios Europa,

24 April 2013


Finally some cool trip-hop down-tempo musick. Nothing like waiting until Europe was almost traversed to lay out some chill. Must be the Mediterranean. Ethnic Sicilian trip-hop nonetheless. Really more like ethnostep with a very strong African flavor. Must be getting close to Europe’s southern neighbor. I’m not too good at labels, but this is sweeeeeet!

Agricantus is a Sicilian musical group formed in Palermo, Sicily, in 1979. Palermo is the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily & the Province of Palermo. The city is over 2,700 years old. They have a long history of involvement in music & the arts.

The group was started by Tonj Acquaviva. He studied guitar in the 70s & then became interested in the ethnic music of Sicily & the Andean Cordillera. In conjunction with his new-found musical tastes, he became proficient in many folk intruments from stringed & wind to percussion: quena; tarka; sikus; guitar; mandolin; charango; bombo; frame drums; qraqeb; darbouka; cajon; & tam tam to name but a sample of the listing.

Agricantus traveled Europe for a number of years as street musicians, absorbing many styles of local music. In the mid 90s they traveled & performed in Europe, South America, the Middle East, & Asia. By the late 90s they were back in Sicily, working closely with musicians in the Taorima area. Taorima is a commune & small town in the Messina Province of eastern Sicily. In 1999 Tonj received theTaorima Arts & Sciences music award.

Agricanthus has had many members during its varied history. The main members are: Tonj Acquiaviva – lead male vocals, keyboards, drum machines, ethnic percussion, programming, & sampling; Rosie Wiederkehr – lead vocals; Lutte Berg – guitar; Mario Rivera – bass; Mario Crispi – wind instruments.  

Agricantus – Calura, Sconfini 7, 2002.
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Tracklist –

Jusu E Susu (L' Esperienza Chill Out remix Dj Mario Rivera)
Pinseri (Bluecheese mix)
Amatevi (Buddha-Bar version)
Prèsence (Ethnosphere version)
Orbi Terrarum (DJ Rocca deep mix)
Ciavula (radio version)
Viaggi (Dj Tonj Acquaviva remix)


Inchiuvatu was formed on Holy Friday 1995, in the ‘Garden of Sin’ in Sciacca, Agrigento, Sicily by Michele ‘Agghiastru’ Venezi.

According to Agghiastru: “The Garden of the Sin is the place where the human tragedy is exalted to give vent to an ephemeral art which wants to relieve human pain. The human being lives the conflict between life & the misery of life , but he can never defeat it. The Garden of the Sin is surrounded with images of spirits & demons that have nothing to do with the Christian vision of Hell, purgatory & heaven. It is the place of desolation, of doubts & vices, of anxiety & of ephemeral pleasures; but above all The Garden of the Sin is the place of the human being’s loss.

There Agghiastru, who can be compared to Virgilio, Dante’s guide, leads the visitor by the hand through the Garden which is dominated by the enigmatic face with three legs, the so called Trinacria (an ancient symbol of Sicily), through the dark paths of the Inchiuvatu reign, searching for the tragic truth which is contained in him work.

Inchiuvatu was one of the earliest bands that sought to forge a specifically Mediterranean Black Metal. Inchiuvatu created some good quality 90s symphonic black metal with Sicilian folk influences. The lyrics are in Sicilian & the band often utilizes a friscalettu, a traditional sicilian flute, in many songs.

Agghiastru plays all instruments on his studio releases. Live, he is joined by Kaos – guitar, Nadur or Frenda – bass, Thanathos – keyboards, & Duke Daimon – on drums. On Addisiu, they are joined by Antonella, Lisetta, Lory, & Rossella for the female vocal parts.

Inchiuvatu ‎– Addisiu, Elegy Records ‎– HAWK 002, 1997. 
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Tracklist –

Cu Sancu a l’Occhi
Ave Matri
Castiu di Diu
Lu Jocu di li Spiddi
Cristu Crastu
Quiete Morente
Lu Jaddinu di lu Piaciri
Luciferu Re