Saturday, January 16, 2016

Recommended: The Lost 45s of Sudan from Shellachead


One of the best reissuers out there, Shellachead, put out a wonderful collection of Sudanese music last month, all 45s recorded on Sudan's Munisphone label in the sixties and seventies. I was only familiar with two of the artists previously, the fabulous female trio al-Bilabil (read about them here) and Sayed Khalifa, who is most well-known in Egypt, at least, for his song "Mambo Soudani," which he performs in the 1957 film Tamr Hinna.


And here is a bit of info about Khalifa, courtesy Heather Maxwell of the VOA:

More than any other singer of his generation, Sayed Khalifa, is responsible for the popularity of ‘Omdurman songs’ throughout the Muslim Sahel and the Horn of Africa. A dynamic performer, Khalifa won fans throughout Africa with his reinterpretations of classic Sudanese songs in the national languages of his African audiences. He was born in 1928 in the village of Ad Dibeiba, not far from Khartoum, and in 1947 received a scholarship to study at the Arab Music Institute in Cairo. He made his first radio broadcasts, on Egyptian radio, during these student years, and in 1956 wrote his name into Sudanese history with his recording of ‘Ya Watani’ a patriotic song praising Sudanese independence. Like many of his musical peers, Sayed Khalifa’s career was curtailed by the Islamic regimes of the late 1980s, with some of his more sensual songs purged from the Radio Omdurman archives. The great Sayed Khalifa passed away on July 2, 2001 while undergoing treatment for heart disease.

His most famous song, and one of the Sudan’s most well travelled melodies, is ‘El Mambo Soudani’. The music was composed by Sayed Abdel Ray, and Sayed Khalifa himself composed the lyrics. This song has become a staple of Sudanese wedding bands, and was also the title of the 1998 Piranha records ‘El Mambo Soudani’ by the Cairo based group Salamat (Sayed Khalifa appears on the group’s 1998 CD ‘Ezzayakoum’). After encouraging his listeners to dance the Sudanese Mambo, Sayed Khalifa sings of his beloved, of her beauty and graceful silhouette, and of the suffering she puts him through.

But the other tracks on the collection are all worth listening to. You can listen to the entire collection here, via bandcamp, and you can download it for the very reasonable price of $5. (Plus you get the booklet that goes along with the music, as a pdf.) Highly recommended.

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