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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  1. Cheb Mami
    Souad Massi

  2. Rachid Taha is my favorite Algerian star...saw him play here in Seattle a few years ago. An unbelievable show. His old band Carte de Sejour is worth checking out as well - Algerian punk via France. I thought I had some mp3's to share, but can't seem to track them down. I'll post 'em if I find 'em.

    1. As always, thanks for the recommendation. If you find them, let us know where we can try'em.

    2. Seems I've got it on Rhapsody...

      Best I can do at the moment.

    3. there seems to be a bunch of Rachid's material to download at http://www.melody4arab.com/albums/en_view_albums_132.htm
      I'm just checking it out now. if you try it, let me know. new resource I just discovered.

  3. Proto-Raï