Sunday, May 17, 2015

Najat Aâtabou - Lillah Ya S'haba (1986)

Here's one more old Najat Aâtabou tape for ya. This is the last one I own with her old line-up of oud and bendir-s. I wish I knew the name of the left-handed oud player who appears in the early Najat video clips I see online. I assume he's the same one who plays on these early-mid 1980's albums of hers. He always sounds great. Can anyone identify him?

I don't have a j-card for this tape, but the cassette shell is from Edition Hassania. "Ditih" and "Wardat Lejnane" appear on the out-of-print CD "The Voice of the Atlas", whose notes indicate that the songs date from 1986 or 1987. The song "Lillah ya S'haba" also appears on Najat's orchestral album, but I prefer this stripped-down version, which builds and builds 'til it bursts out into a joyous ululation-filled climax.

The version in this video is similar. Not quite as raucous as on the album. But it does feature a boat onstage, (at around 9:45 and forward) which is pretty awesome:

Side 2 of my tape is of sub-par audio quality, but Najat shines through nonetheless.

Najat Aâtabou - Lillah Ya S'haba (1986)
1) Lillah Ya S'haba
2) Ditih
3) Ana Mzawga Fik A Hnaya
4) Wardate Lejnane

Get it here.

PS - I've been working on a Lemchaheb post, but got caught up in a forest of metaphors, from which I'm still trying to extricate myself. Soon, incha'Llah.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Najat Aâtabou - Live in Paris and in Tamazight

Here's a live album from Najat Aâtabou released around 1985, not long after she first burst onto the Moroccan music scene. She's in fine form here, performing in Paris at The Olympia with oud, bendir-s, a darbuka and the backup singing of the male band members.

The album opens with an evocative (orientalist?) intro featuring audio snippets of a Middle Atlas ahaidous communal dance (one wonders if there was video at the concert as well) with a spoken narration extolling the bounties of Moroccan traditional music, before introducing Najat herself.

Tracks 3 and 4 are sung in her native Central Atlas Tamazight dialect, while the others are sung in darija (Moroccan Arabic). I've become obsessed in particular with Track 4, "Nikkine Admough" or "Ad 3mough Izri". Here's a different live performance, longer than the one on the album. The moment where the band stops and Najat continues singing a capella breaks my heart:

According to this interview and performance from Moroccan TV, the lyrics are about a woman who was separated from her lover because of travel. Upon her return she finds that he has died, and she cries at his grave. (A kind soul has also translated some of the lyrics from Tamazight to French in the comments.)

Another native speaker of Central Atlas Tamazight who found success using Arabic lyrics with Berber musical forms was Mohamed Rouicha. However, Rouicha recorded some entire albums in Tamazight, whereas I don't think Najat ever released an album in Tamazight. I have found only a few live performance clips on YouTube from her early days where she performs songs in Tamazight. Conveniently, they are all linked from this page at I'd love to be proved wrong, though - does anyone know if she ever made studio recordings in Tamazight?

Najat Aâtabou at L'Olympia (EH1280)
1) intro
2) La Tbkich (= El Mektab)
3) Mani Lâhad
4) Nikkine Admongh
5) J'en ai Marre
6) 1, 2, 3

Get it here.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Najat Aâtabou - Koun Mâaya (1985)

It's been a while since I posted any Najat - long overdue, now that I think about it.

Here's an oldie, circa 1985, when she was still using the basic ensemble of oud and bendir-s. The song "Koun Mâaya" (Be With Me) was the title track, and lyrics were featured on the j-card. The song features some sort of bass oud, or someone playing an octave down.

My fave tune, though, is the rocking "Tikka Ghalia" (Trust is Expensive), Here's a fab live version:

Najat Aâtabou - Koun Mâaya (EH 1300, 1985)
1) Koun Mâaya
2) Tikka Ghalia
3) Ach Ngoul Lih
4) Ha Nta Chouf

Get it here.

PS - it appears that Divshare has been down for several weeks, so all my embedded audio tracks are dead. Hopefully they'll come back online eventually, but who knows.