Friday, August 05, 2016

Very cool Cheikha Rimitti 45" jacket

Isn't this great? First off, in Arabic the cover says al-Cheikh al-Rimitti, that is, the male form, and not Cheikha. And in Latin script, it says only "Rimitti." Now, it's not as if the record company (Oasis, based in Algiers) who put out this 45" didn't know who the artist was. The record itself says Cheikha Rimitti.

As does the reverse side of the record jacket.

Was the record company trying to entice buyers by tricking them into thinking the recording was by a male singer? Who knows?

(The source for the cover is here, from Jeremy Phillips, who made a shopping trip for vinyl in Morocco in 2014, and posted a mix based on his findings on Psych Funk. You can listen to the B-Side of the Rimitti release, "Zoubida Tendmi." It's straight-up Algerian cheikha music, known at the time as elklâm elhezal.)

The other cool thing about the cover is that the illustration is a cartoon, not a photo. I've not seen a Cheikha Rimitti record jacket with a cartoon on it before, nor do I recall in fact other rai recordings or for that matter, other Algerian recordings with a cartoon. Other Cheikha Rimitti record jackets I've seen have photos, and with possibly one exception, photos that are not of the Cheikha but of another woman, usually blonde and Western. Like this one (from the Casaphone label, based in Casablanca and Paris).

I did also find this recording, which features a drawing and not a photo. It's the jacket for "Ya Ouled El Djazaïr," also from Oasis -- but it's not a cartoon. This release, celebrating Algeria's independence, is from shortly after the FLN tossed out the French from Algeria, during the brief period of revolutionary ferment, when female artists like Cheikha Rimitti were not considered unrespectable, a period which ended in 1965 when Boumedienne toppled Ben Bella. You can listen to one version here, another here. I've no idea whether either of these are the original recording.

I posted about the "Balek Balek" record and someone commented that they had seen record jackets with the name "Cheikha Remettez" -- the spelling based on the story about how the cheikha got her name, ordering another drink at a saint's festival sometime in the 1940s. "Remettez la tournée," give me another drink. I'd love to see these.

And just for the record, I came across another photo of the Cheikha. She is the one with the tambourine. (I have to say, based on other photos I've seen, I'm not certain it is her.) The source is this blog post.

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