3-4 Weeks
1970's Algerian Proto-Rai Underground

SF 045CD SF 045CD

This is a new 2014 digipak designed CD repress of the limited LP pressing which sold out almost immediately when released in 2008. This is Raï music from Algeria as you've not heard it before. In the early 1970s, a new group of singers and musicians were operating on the northwest coast, and what they pioneered was a sound that eventually reached worldwide status by the end of the decade; however, their names are relatively unknown to this day outside Algeria. This crucial and defining period of the development of Raï is criminally ignored and overlooked by Algerian music historians and Raï fans. Due to censorship and government-controlled music diffusion, this scene and lyrical style was forced underground and banned from broadcasts, yet slowly built a small following around the seaside cabarets of Wahran (Oran). This period witnessed the rise of artists such as Groupe El Azhar ("The Flowers" group) and Messaoud Bellemou, who can comfortably be considered the Godfather of the modern Raï sound. His group, L'Orchestre Bellemou, rewrote a heritage of centuries by using modern instruments and especially the trumpet, which became, during the 1970s, the backbone of the Wahrani genre. Reinterpreting the gasba melodies on trumpet, Bellemou backed singers such as Boutaiba Sghir and Sheikh Benfissa who carried on the lyrical tradition of their forefathers singing about daily preoccupations and problems as well as love affairs, alcohol, or simply owning an automobile! Toward the late 1970s, Cheb Zergui brought a newer ingredient: an electric guitar with a wah-wah pedal. Thankfully, the late 1960s saw the development of vinyl pressing in Algeria. This new industry allowed many small artists including the Wahrani "scene" to record and release singles documenting their repertoire. This compilation is a selection of this proto-Raï scene's vinyl 45s. CD booklet features photos of the musicians & informative liner notes by the man who compiled it, Hicham Chadly.