Saturday, May 12, 2018

Shadia, Sudanese style

The divine Shadia, who passed away in November 2017, performs a song composed by Munir Mourad (Leila's brother), "Ya Habibi Oud Li Tani," in Omdurman, Sudan, sometime during the 1960s. The original recording was done in distinctly Sudanese style, it's not just for this performance, and of course the Sudanese audience receives it warmly. I'm sorry about the quality of the video, it's not great, but the song really is. I don't know of other examples of well-known Egyptian singers of the period performing in Sudanese mode, but perhaps there are some. Please let me know! And thanks to Rania for the tip.

Run-up to war?

Good recent resources/commentary on Donald Trump's move to neo-connery.

Adam Shatz, "The Drift towards War," on the LRB Blog.

Over the last few years, Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes inside Syria, mostly aimed at Hizbullah military convoys suspected of transferring advanced weapons into the Bekaa Valley. In February, however, after intercepting what it claimed to be an armed Iranian drone in its airspace, Israel struck for the first time at Iranian targets, killing at least seven members of the Quds Force, the external operations unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The possibility of an Israeli-Iranian war is now higher than it has ever been, since Iran feels encircled, and Israel believes that it has a green light from Washington for further military adventures.

Elliott Colla, "Fog (of War) Machine"

When the US invaded Iraq fifteen years ago, it did not do so accidentally -- we were led there: first and foremost by the neocons who wanted war at any cost; and secondly, by a liberal media that was all too willing to create the fog that made the war possible. There are salient differences between now and then. In 2003, one could plausibly make the argument that US war policy was not driven by Islamophobia and the most toxic forms of Zionism. Not so this time. By this stage in 2003, we had gone out in the millions to protest. We haven't even begun to do so yet.

The fog bank is rolling in again this week, bringing with it mass human suffering.

Do not think of it is a natural event. It is entirely man-made. It's what happens when a blast of neocon will-to-power hits the hot, moist air of liberal humanitarianism. 

And do not think that this fog emanates from distant places "over there" in Syria. This fog is an entirely local meteorological phenomenon, designed to prevent only Americans from seeing things for what they are. It will not impact weather or vision in other parts of the globe. 

Tweet from Laleh Khalili

To which I add: I met an Israeli in 1971, in New York City, who told me that he grew up in an Israeli community very close to the Syrian controlled Golan Heights and that he never felt under threat, at least prior to spring 1967. And as Dayan clarifies, the reason for shooting in the area was Israeli provocation.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Scopitones: Arab, Maghrebi, Kabyle, Mashreqi

This is a terrifically interesting TV broadcast from Canal+, a show called "L'Oeil du Cyclone," which screened on Saturday evenings between 1991 and 1999. 

L'OEIL DU CYCLONE-226 >Oued Saïd Story from alain burosse on Vimeo.

Called "Oued Saïd Story," it was broadcast on April 3, 1999, and features clips of Scopitones that were made to show in the bars and cafés patronized by working-class Maghrebi immigrants in France. (It appears to be a shortened version of a film made by Michèle Collery and Anaïs Prosaic, called Trésors des scopitones arabes, kabyles, berbères.)

Scopitone was a kind of film jukebox, and some 280 films of Arab and Kabyle songs were produced for scopitones between 1965 and 1980 (Here is a list of titles, probably not complete)


The music films' subject, when the singer was North African and especially if they were based in France, was often the travails of life in exile, the rough work, troubles with European women, alcohol and the police, and nostalgia for the homeland. Scopitones featuring Salah Sadaoui were particularly amusing and bitter-sweet send-ups of the exile condition. (I've blogged about Sadaoui's scopitone "Nezouedj Ouahdi" here.)


Here's the list of clips you see bits of in this show:

There are a total four from Salah Sadaoui, an Algerian Kabyle singer who moved to France in 1954 and whose career was based there: "Letm’na Mraâa" (seen in its entirety here), "Ana Achki  Fe Zine," "Hazmali Serouali," and"Sloulardji." (One of the last three is another name for what I've called "Nezouedj Wahdi" above.) If you're interested in seeing Sadaoui perform more traditional material, check out this YouTube vid.

Two from Tunisian folkloric singer Mohamed Jerrari, "Zerdet Couscous," and "Sayad El Out."

The famous Algerian singer Noura teams up with her husband Kemal Hamadi to do "Rabbi Adh Yessahel." On her own,
Noura performs a Kabyle song, "Idourar." This Scopitone you can view in its entirety on YouTube.

There are two as well from the great Mohamed Mazouni, "Ould El Ghourba" and "Cherie Madame" (with Meriem Abed), both no doubt recorded during the years he spent in France (1973-82).

Slimane Azem, a Kabyle singer who moved to France in 1962, contributes "A Madame Encore à Boire."

Another great Algerian singer of the diaspora or ghorba, Dahmane El Harrachi, contributes "Ghir El Brah Ouana Farhan."

The famous Kabyle singer Idir does "Zwit Rwits" and, from 1975, "Azwaw":

The Algerian Kabyle rock band Les Abranis does "Athedjallade."


The Casablanca, Morocco rock band Golden Hands do "What to Say" (1968). Below is a minute of that Scopitone, very fuzzy. 

Moroccan soul man Vigon, who I've blogged about previously, does "Harlem Shuffle": 

My favorite Egyptian bellydancer Samia Gamal and Abdelsalam Nabulsi (uncredited) show up in one of the Scopitones.

Abdel Halim Hafez sings "
Ya Khali El Qalb" with Nadia Lotfi in a scene from his film Abi Fawq al-Shagara. Below is a not very good clip. 

There is a very brief clip of Abdel Halim's "
Zay El Hawa," with Mervat Hatem, from the film Gana El Hawa.

Algerian singer Rabah Driassa does "Ouled El Djzair" and "El Houta."

Kabile singer Rachid Mesbahi does "Yarabi/Savon."

Moroccan artist Abdelwahab Doukkali gives us "Lahla Izid Ktire."

The Tunisian artist Hamadi Laghbabi performs "Sidi Mansour."

Taroub, a female Lebanese singer of Jordanian Circassian origin, does "Ya Hallak." Below is not the Scopitone, probably a clip from Lebanese TV.

The great Farid El Atrache does "Ya Gamil Ya Gamil."

Finally the great Sabah, with
"Danse Orientale" and the divine "Allo Beirut," with lots of scenes of Beirut, Lebanon, for the nostalgist. 

For more on the Arab and Kabyle scopitones see this article and this one.

Saturday, May 05, 2018


When you drink your mint julep, you should know that "julep" comes from the Arabic "jallâb," a delicious drink made from dates, carob, grape molasses and rosewater, very popular in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. When I lived in Beirut it was my fave cold drink to buy from street vendors, who usually topped it with raisins and pine nuts or almonds. I recently found some jallab concentrate in a store in my home town of Fayetteville and had my son Evan, a bartender, taste it. He's the one who did the research on the etymology of the word julep. (I should add that the Arabic jallab comes from the Persian gulab ("rosewater"), but it passed into Latin from Arabic and hence to Old French and then to English.)