Thursday, May 30, 2019

Yacht Rai - Ready for Summer with the Brothers Bouchenak

Here's a ready-for-summer album by Bouchenak (a.k.a. Les Frères Bouchenak), a longtime fixture on the Moroccan pop music scene, out of Oujda in the east.

I promise you, I resisted the urge to call this Yacht Rai. If you are a longtime visitor to Moroccan Tape Stash, you know that I don't easily suffer facile comparisons with Anglo-American pop genres and groups. (My manifesto is here, but I quickly violated it here.) And it's questionable whether Yacht Rock is even a true genre. (The term originated in a series of YouTube comedy shorts.) But the urge here was strong - colorful tropical shirts, feel-good unthreatening and smooth pop grooves, and era-appropriate facial hair screamed out "Yacht Rock" to me.

But yea, I resisted. No, I told myself, I am strong enough to not give in to the urge to make a silly, superficial comparison. I'm mature enough to say something objective and insightful about this album, to place the interesting Bouchenak band in its proper historical context - this 1992 album coming after a decade of albums which saw them experimenting with combining local forms from the Moroccan east (a musical/cultural terrain similar to Oran in the Algerian west) with a rock band format (electric guitar, keyboard and drums). Similar in some ways, but different in others, from what musicians in Oran and Sidi Bel Abbas were doing with rai music in Algeria around the same time. (Dig, for instance, this unusual 1984 album, still available over at the Snap, Crackle and Pop blog. See also the comments for a wealth of historical info about the Bouchenak Brothers from H. Hammer.)

Verily, I would resist the pull of the Yacht Rai moniker, even though my own personal introduction to them was seeing them onstage in Marrakech in the summer of 1992, where they followed a combined performance by Nass el Ghiwane and Jil Jilala (OMG!!) with the silliest, lightest pop ditties, lip-synched (!!!) in those same tropical shirts (!!!!!!!!), and wondering who in their right mind would put these guys onstage after the clearly deeper and more culturally significant NG and JJ!!!!!!!!!!! (But dammit, if that earworm "Aji Netsamhou" didn't dig its way into my psyche anyway!)

And though this album sort of annoys me (it is really lightweight and poppy, and features no electric guitar or drum set like their earlier work), on second listen, there are some interesting things to appreciate: the keyboard sounds and textures are varied from track to track (unlike some rai albums where keyboards sounds can be monotonous), and the harmony vocal arrangements are quite good. And "Yahdik Allah" actually rocks pretty hard.

I really could have gotten through this entire post without invoking Yacht Rai. Then I stumbled across a video clip for"Jana Essaif", from this album.


Bouchenak الاخوان بوشناق
Edition Sonya Disque/INES cassette (1992)

1) Aji Natsamhou اجي نتسامحو
2) Jana Essaif جانا الصيف
3) Makablouhach ماقبلوهاش
4) Njoum Ellil نجوم الليل
5) Yahdik Allah يهديك الله
6) Laghzal لغزال
7) Charou Lina شارو الين
8) Salam Alikoum السلام علي

Get it all HERE.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

L'AGE D'OR de la musique andalouse - WELCOME with the singer BAJADOUB

Ramadan Mubarak - may your month be full of thankfulness and remembrance, and may you be uplifted and sustained.

In bygone times, the link between Ramadan and the sound of Arab Andalusian music (a.k.a. tarab andalusi, a.k.a. al-âla) was a strong one for Moroccans. RTM (Radiodiffusion-Télévision Marocaine) used to broadcast clips of this music right before and after the sundown call to prayer during the holy month. Back when there was only 1 or 2 TV stations, this meant that for years a huge portion of the Moroccan population would have been at home with this music on the tube as the soundtrack to the breaking of the daily fast around the family table.

I'm not sure whether that's still the case. Even if it is, with the spread of satellite TV, home internet and portable phones in the 21st century, folks are tuned in to many different things now, so it's unlikely that the Andalusian tones are as ubiquitous as they once were at iftar time.

At any rate, here's a nice tape that I dubbed in 1992. My dub is pictured above, but I believe the j-card looked something like this:

Mohamed Bajeddoub was at the time the most renowned singer of the Moroccan Andalusian tradition. (Within a few years, Abderrahim Souiri would rise to similar heights.) LIke Souiri, Bajeddoub rose to fame as a member of the ensemble of Haj Abdelkrim Rais. .

This tape contains a couple of the most famous and popular songs of the Moroccan Andalusian repertoire: "Shams al Âshi" and "Bouchra Lana". The version of "Shams al Âshi" is quite spirited, and segues into some energetic, festive chaâbi.

WELCOME L'AGE D'OR de la musique andalouse with the singer BAJADOUB
1) Shams al Âshi
2) Mawwal 1
3) Mawwal 2
4) Bouchra Lana
5) Mawwal 3

Get it all here.

More Bajeddoub available here: