Thursday, November 08, 2018

Some Cheikha Rimitti 45 RPM Record Jackets

This is one of Rimitti's earliest recordings, if not the earliest (and I have the good luck to own this one). One of the tracks, "Erraï Arraï, was, according to Andy Morgan, her first recording, in 1952, for the French Pathé label. But on a 78 rpm, so I'm not sure when this 45 rpm version was pressed. (It was made in France.) Note she was known at this time as Elrelizania (al-Relizania), due to the fact that she grew up in the town of Rélizane (Ghalīzān in Arabic) in Western Algeria. Side A: "Erraï Arraï" (in Arabic al-ray ya al-ray, or "rai o rai."), may be one of the earliest songs in the tradition with "rai" in the title. (Sorry, I'm not able to translate the lyrics.) The genre in which Rimitti performed at the time, however, was not known as rai but as "al-klām al-hazl" or “light, amusing, trifling, playful speech.” 

The reverse side of the jacket describes the tracks as "Chant Oranais avec flûte." The photo on the jacket suggests "folklore." Side B, "Kheira Sali Anbi" (Khayra Salli ‘Ala al-Nabi) -- I'm not sure how to translate the title. Salli ‘Ala al-Nabi means "prayers on the prophet," but what "khayra" (good, choice) means in this phrase, I do not know. 

But note, however, that this is, at some level, a "religious" song, challenging the notion that became prevalent in the late eighties that rai was quintessentially secular. (The work of Marie Virolle is an excellent guide to the place of religion in rai lyrics of artists like Rimitti.) Both these tracks can be found on the CD, Aux Sources du Rai: Les Cheikhat.

The cover of this 45 also indicates "folklore," and this is how Algerian labels had to market the music post-independence, in the puritanical Boumedienne era, which lasted until 1978. This Rimitti record was put out by Triomphe Musique, based in France. This is not Rimitti's photo on the cover. I've seen no Rimitti release with her own photo on it prior to the late eighties, when she became a star on the rai scene, particularly in France, where she had resided since 1978.

This is a release from the Algerian label El Feth, under the rubric "Chants Folkloriques Oranais." I find curious the decision to use a picture of Djoser's Step Pyramid at Sakkara in Egypt on the cover, rather than a scene of Algeria. Side B, "Touche Mami," is a well-known Rimitti song, and it seems sexually suggestive: "touche mami touche, à droite, à gauche." Which is why the label "folklore" was necessary as a kind of cover for music that was considered vulgar by official state culture.

This one is from the French label, La Voix De La Jeunesse, and although the disc itself contains the rubric, "Folklore Oranais," by the time this comes out it seems that the folklore marketed is much more sexualized than that sold under the name Rimitti (or Remitti) in previous years. 

This one is from Voix Nouvelle, a French label that specialized in North African music. When rai cassettes began to be released, it was pretty common for European women to be the face on the cover of releases from female rai singers, the chabas. I've found no links to any recordings of these two songs or any mention of them except for on

I don't know anything about Atlas Records. This seems to be a re-release of "Errai Arrai," from the 1950s. I've not found a version of "Hak Tachroub Hak" anywhere.

This one is really eye-opening, eh? This is apparently from 1980, since it is called "Nouveauté Folk 80." When rai was being marketed as something sexy and outré. I don't find these two tracks anywhere either.

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