Rachid Taha – Zoom (2013)
Rachid Taha is an Algerian singer based in France, who was at the forefront of the Rai n’ Roll movement in Algeria (Rai being a popular music in Algeria), heavily influenced by The Clash. He has been active since the 80s and this is his ninth solo album.
And it is an eclectic album to say the least!
Singing in French, genres covered include Gainsbourgeon Chanson (Wesh (N’amal) and Zoom Sur Oum). Zoom Sur Oum (again), Jamila and Voila Voila are more electronically focused, reminiscent of David Bowie’s flirtations with electronic music, which seemed to miss the intended mark, but in doing so, invented something wholly new and exciting. The first is a tribute to Egyptian legend Umm Kulthum, sampling her voice for the track and singing a narrative style like Gainsbourg, while the Persian-style music sounds like Secret Chiefs 3, while Jamila is a more dubby number and Voila Voila is a little bit of an industrial-tinged remake of his own anti-racist anthem from 1993, here featuring Brian Eno and Eric Cantona (I kid you not).
It’s Now Or Never is a cover in English and Arabic of Presley’s version of the Neopolitan O Sole Mia, sang as a duet with Jeanna Added, a French singer and cellist. Presley is namechecked alongside Kurt Cobain and punk rock on rockabilly track, Les Artistes; this wearing of influences rather squarely on his chest is a feature of the album, as he goes on to explore the late British 70s on a couple of tracks which evoke The Clash: Fakir, a more punky track, and Algerian Tango, a more ska-infused track, which actually features The Clash’s Mick Jones. Finally Country is touched upon as well on tracks, Ana and Galbi.
It is testament to Taha’s talent and confidence that despite the input of these Western genres and sounds, this album is grounded in his Algerian heritage, with guitar and lute interacting beautifully. A totally eclectic mix of genres, pinned by an overwhelming sense of enjoyment and fun; Taha sounds like he is loving every minute, and I’m right there with him!
Favourite tracks: Wesh (N’amal), Jamila, Algerian Tango, Fakir, Voila Voila, Zoom Sur Oum
Spotify link: Rachid Taha – Zoom