Not one to be shy of the odder side of recorded music I picked up this Arabic Christian collection of Easter hymns for 50 whole pence a few weeks ago.
I was immediately struck by the juxtaposition of the picture of the crucified Christ on the cover with stacks of Arabic writing beside it (my copy paired with a big ‘Anita’ on the back in bold biro). It was crying out to be bought. It just looked so interesting and it is certainly that.
It is a collection of very down tempo hymns done in an almost East/West crossover. One can hear those church organs providing backing but Fairuz’s gorgeous faultless voice sings in a distinctive eastern manner using Eastern scales. She also works at times without instrumentation with a choir in what appears to be a call and response fashion
It says on the sleeve notes that Good Friday is remembered by Arabic Christian communities in a very sorrowful way and the songs apparently reflect upon Christ’s suffering on the cross.
Fairuz is a well known Lebanese singer active from the 1950’s and started her career in her local church. She became an international star in the 1060’s and continues to this day to sell out huge venues on the strength of her Lebanese popularity.
This is a meditative piece and becomes almost Gregorian at times. It would sound fantastic in the churches where it is meant to be heard with knee deep reverberation. On a record from 1962 you do loose a little depth to the sound and of course there are 50 years of crackles to contend with (but I never mind crackles – shows character)
All in all a fine piece of Eastern promise in a collection without enough of it and to top it all it turns out that this is quite sought after fetching between £15-20. Nice to know but I ain’t going to sell it now
I am going to start including records that would normally be left at the bottom of the bargain bin and haven’t really got enough hip followers to raise them up in the fashion stakes to grab high prices because there are still plenty of really lovely records there staring you in the face at the price of about a quarter of a cup of coffee. Just what the bargain hunter needs and my hunting recently has been based of this very strategy as I find that as vinyl prices go through the roof and become more and more unobtainable there more I become interested in the bargain bin. I pulled this out of the back of my local record shop in his £1 (or 4 for £3) section.
My first selection is a lounge jazz classic. I kind of went off jazz for a good while but am swinging back with a vengeance. My son is a jazz guitarist and has introduced me to so much more that I have again found my enthusiasm for it. This record is easy to like. Melodic, not too much lengthy soloing and a great swinging feel to the trio.
It is recorded by Andre Previn on piano (yes him of the Mr Preview Eric Morecombe fame), Shelley Manne on drums and Red Mitchell on bass. The trio were apparently noted for their modern jazz interpretations of Broadway Musicals and this is their interpretation of Pal Joey. This was a Rogers and Hart musical opening in 1940. The trio recorded this in 1957 and were completely improvised at the two recording sessions.
The songs here don’t actually sound like Rogers and Hart songs although the tunes are good and strong. The trio manage to entirely reinterpret them as if they were simple jazz tunes. Oddly the one that sounds particularly like a Rogers and Hart tunes is the ballad ‘I’m Talking with My Pal’ that wasn’t actually used in the show.
Elsewhere on the record with have a little Afro-Cuban ‘What is a Man?’, blues on ‘Its a Great Big Town’, a gorgeous ballad ‘Bewitched’ but mostly up tempo swing ‘Zip’ ‘Do it the Hard Way’ and ‘Take Him’. All through the record there is adept swing taking place demonstrating Previn’s considerable talents as a jazz pianist (for which he isn’t ever so well know). All in all a great addition for those quiet winter evenings