Choubi Choubi!: Folk & Pop Sounds from Iraq Vol. 1
Originally released in 2005, while the U.S.-led war against Iraq was tearing the country to pieces, Choubi Choubi Vol. 1 brought a collection of incredible Iraqi music and styles that had rarely showcased abroad. This 2014 deluxe-edition vinyl reissue is a must-have. It features re-mastered, and in some cases, completely restored audio, revised and updated liner-notes with new artist and track information, plus four additional tracks not featured in the first CD issue. Meticulously compiled by Mark Gergis from his archives of Iraqi cassettes and LPs found in Syria, Europe and the Iraqi neighborhoods of Detroit, Michigan and elsewhere within the diaspora, this unique collection of folk and pop styles displays a wealth of outstanding music that is exclusive to Iraq. Choubi is Iraq's version of Middle Eastern dabke music, and can be found throughout the country. It's performed at weddings and parties nationally by its melting pot of Arabs, Kurds, Christians, and Rom gypsies -- known as Kawlia. The Kawlia have been some of the most active recorded choubi artists in Iraq since the 1980s, and many tracks featured in this volume feature their outstanding performances. There are many reasons why Iraqi music stands alone in the dynamic world of Arabic music: one example is the unbelievable rapid-fire machine-gun rhythms fluttering atop the main tempo. This is the work of a unique nomadic hand drum called the Khishba -- also known as the Zanbour (Arabic for wasp). A style prominently featured here is the infamous Iraqi Choubi -- a driving, rhythmic style that can include fiddles, double reeded instruments, percussion, bass, keyboards and oud over its signature beat. Other styles featured are the Basta (an urban Baghdadi sound), Iraq's legendary brand of Mawal -- an ornamental vocal improvisation that sets the tone of a song, regardless of the style, and the outstanding Iraqi Hecha -- with its lumbering and determined rhythm pulsing beneath sad, antagonized vocals. Most of the music in this collection was produced during the Saddam period -- between the 1980s and 2002. Since the 2003 invasion and the wholesale disassembly of the country, classic tracks like these have already become part of a disappeared past. This limited edition 2LP vinyl release features 70 minutes of classic original recordings compiled by Mark Gergis, housed in a beautiful full-color gatefold jacket with extensive liner-notes and a bonus 7" with a picture sleeve.