Saturday, October 23, 2021

Orchestre Abdou El Filali - The Bride Has Come, also Funky French Verb Conjugation

Aaaah... a Moroccan wedding on a hot urban summer night about 30 years ago. The smell of mint tea and the amplified, saturated sounds of a big jawq/orchestra animating the crowd. After a bit of slow stately music (melhun or Andalus), the bride is paraded in, in all her glory, the ululations fly, the crowd rises, and the band launches into Lâaroussa Jat:

I picked up this cassette on my first trip to Morocco in 1992. It's your typical wedding chaâbi fare, but with an nice punch to it - the drum kit is propulsive, the electric guitar nice and twangy, and the bass and strings also pack a punch (unlike the smooth timbres that would become the norm a few years later). And Abdou el Filali's singing is appealing, energetic, and enthusiastic.

Filali was born and raised in Kenitra. His early musical career was spent with Ghiwane-style groups Layali el Ounss and L'Mghariyine. He later attended the conservatory in Kenitra, where he found his voice as a chaâbi singer. If the info I found online is correct [1], it was Filali who popularized the song Laâroussa Jat, via the version on this cassette. The song subsequently became a wedding standard - that's a notable achievement for any singer! [I'm pretty sure it was played at my wedding - I wonder whether it's still in the repertoire for weddings today.]

Another rhythmic track from the album caught my ear. "Oh, they're singing in French", I thought... "Wait, did he just say 'passé composé'? Are they... conjugating verbs to a chaâbi beat?" Yep - here's what I got:

Poste. Téléphone. Télégraphe. P.T.T. Répétez
Poste. Téléphone. Télégraphe. P.T.T. Répétez
Le verbe 'chanter' en passé composé
J'ai chanté 
Tu as chanté
Il a chanté
Nous avons chanté
Vous avez chanté
Ils ont chanté

Filali remains active today. You can find some recent videos at his YouTube channel. There are some old cassette covers and photos on his Facebook page. And Soundcloud has a rip of the song Lâaroussa from a tape of better quality than my copy. This version also contains the opening ululations and Slaaaaaa ou Slaaaaaaams that are cut off on mine.

Orchestre Abdou el Filali - اوركسترا عبدو الفياالي
K (Kennedy) Music cassette 12 - موسيقة كنيدي

early 1990s

1) Lâaroussa (لعروسة)
2) Hnia (هنية)
    Mali ou Mali (مالي و مالي)
3) Moulat Wa7ed (مولات واحد)
4) Telephone (التلفون)
    Al Wali Sidi Bennour (الوالي سيدي بنور)
    Jaya Min Eddouar (جاية من الدوار)
5) Ma Kayn Khir (ما كين خير)

320 | FLAC

[1] There's not much info about Filali online. The info in this post is based on a scan of an old newspaper article and a biographical sketch accompanying a video clip on the excellent YouTube channel of Hasan Amahch.

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