Sunday, July 09, 2023

Cheikha Rimitti Scopitone!


Watch it here.

 This is courtesy the FaceBook page (which I hope you can access) of the Archives Numérique du Cinéma Algérien, who say about it:

"Alors voici un document extrêmement rare et inédit sur internet: il s'agit d'un large extrait d'un scopitone de Cheikha Remitti tourné très probablement au début des années 1970 et dans lequel elle interprète le morceau "Aïn Kahla".
Nous sommes très heureux de partager avec vous ce document qui nous parait tout à fait exceptionnel.
Si vous reconnaissez le lieu de tournage n'hésitez pas à nous l'indiquer. S'agit-il de l'ouest algérien, d'un village du nord marocain, difficile à dire...
MAJ 22h08 : le film aurait été tourné à Debdou à l'est du Maroc, un grand merci à Nehams Ta pour la recherche
Un grand merci à la cinémathèque de Saint-Etienne de nous avoir permis de numériser ce scopitone au format super 8mm issu de notre collection."
For those of you who don't know French, the key points: it's an extract of a Cheikh Remitti scopitone, probably shot in the beginning of the 1970s, a segment of her song "Aïn Kahla." Filmed in the town of Debdou in eastern Morocco. (My guess is that the Algerian government would not have allowed, or made it very difficult, to film a Scopitone there.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

RIP Otis Grand


RIP my old pal Otis Grand (on left), who passed away on June 7in London. Me in the middle, on vocals, on the right, Walid Boustany. We got our start playing 'unplugged,' in 1973. then got a full, electrified group going called Bliss Street Blues Band. On harmonica, George Bisharat, AKA Big Harp George. Bass: Todd/Craig Lichtenwalner. Drums, Raja Kawar.

Then we dispersed, Otis ended up in London, eventually started his own band, and was such a prodigious talent that he was voted 'Best UK Blues Guitarist' seven years running (1990–1996) by the British Blues Connection magazine. (After 7 years, his name was retired.) He issued lots of recordings, they are easy to track down. I'll have more to say about Otis in future.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Graham Nash, "Oh! Camil (The Winter Soldier)"


This is an amazing song (found on Nash's 1973 album, Wild Tales) that I only just learned about, thanks to a brilliant book I recently finished, We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War, by Doug Bradley & Craig Werner. Graham Nash actually attended the Winter Soldier Investigation organized by the Vietnam Veterans against the War (VVAW) in Jan-Feb 1971, where he witnessed this testimony from Scott Camil: "I was a sergeant attached to Charley 1/1...My testimony involves burning of villages with civilians in them, the cutting off of ears, cutting off of heads, torturing of prisoners, calling of artillery on villages for games, corpsmen killing wounded prisoners, napalm dropped on villages, women being raped, women and children being massacred." 

 If you've not seen the Winter Soldier movie, you must, it is essential. Check it out here.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Forthcoming book chapter: Rai, World Music, and Islam

Very honored to have been asked to contribute to this great volume, to be published, inshallah, in October. Look for it! My chapter is entitled: "Rai, World Music, and Islam." More details here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Qussay Samak on Naguib Mahfouz in Merip Reports: "a competent novelist of the Cairene petit-bourgeoisie"

 I love this assessment, from the Egyptian leftist Qussay Samak's article "The Politics of Egyptian Cinema," in Merip Reports No. 56 (April 1977). Get it via JSTOR here.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Shows I've seen: Grateful Dead, Sly & the Family Stone, Creedence, Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly, at The Spectrum, Philadelphia, December 6 1968

 I attended Swarthmore College in 1968-69 and tried to get into Philly as often as the budget and time would allow to see shows. The Spectrum was a big arena with a revolving stage (!). Weird, but at least it gave us a chance to see these bands, and at affordable prices.

The order for this event was: Credence, The Dead, Iron Butterfly, Sly and Steppenwolf. My memory is that Sly put on the most exciting show. I think for me the attractions were The Dead and Steppenwolf ('Born to Be Wild' was a great hit of summer '68). The Dead were not playing in there proper element, and of course their set was way shorter than the usual. (Alas, this was the only time I ever saw the Dead, or any of the others for that matter.) Iron Butterfly of course we all scorned and thought were way overblown. I guess Steppenwolf was good but I have no memory of them. Nor of Creedence, who were known at the time chiefly for their single, "Suzie Q." They may have played "Proud Mary," which was released shortly after the concert.

Here's a review of the concert, from the Wilmington Delaware Morning News, on Dec. 9. There is much to comment on about the review, but let's just say that where I agree with it is (1) The Dead were not impressive (2) the sound was shitty and (3) Sly & Co. were terrific.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Soviet Aswan Dam poster

"Aswan Dam. We are loyal to our friends and always help them in a brotherly unmercenary way." Soviet poster, 1970s. Source here.

The effect of the Aswan Dam on Nubians, one elderly Nubian told me in the late 90s: "Have you heard of the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima? The Aswan Dam was our Hiroshima bomb."