I have practically made a second job out of going to cafÈs on the Mediterranean and all I ever hear is Europop of the basest kind. In a perfect world, the music on this CD would accompany your mint tea/retsina/tinto verano/limoncello delete as appropriate. So make your own Med cafe in your living room with our handy guide!
If you live anywhere on the Earth that is remotely warm, this should be easy. First paint your sitting area white and top it off with bits of blue. Buy Fanta in bottles and some straws for the kids playing happily at your feet, put the CD on and help yourself to an ice cold beer or a glass of deep red wine shared with good friends. Smoking, while frowned upon these days, is optional.
Those in colder climes will need to blow part of their houses or flats off to open up the living space. Then you will need floodlighting so you can see in the evening and some of those outdoor heaters. Otherwise, the routine is the same.
So now that you are ready, what’s the CD like? Well it’s a bit of a mix as you would expect of a collection that includes examples of Italian, Spanish, Palestinian, Greek, Turkish, French, Egyptian, Morrocan, Algerian, Israeli, Lebanese and Albanian music. Not counting Corsican and Sardinian.
So some of the songs are going to grab you and some aren’t most probably. I would take a punt that Lucilla Galeazzi’s ‘Terras de Canto’ (Italy) would be on most people’s list of stand-out tracks, though, with its catchy refrain belted out with such passion while the accordion dances slyly around the lead singer and other voices join the intrigue.
RebÈtika rebel Eleftheria Arvanitaki from Greece gets more than a look-in with a smoldering tangoesque number called ‘Miazis Ke Si Sa Thalassa’ full of twists, turns and dead stops.
Perhaps Barrio Chino with their French, Spanish, Algerian and Cuban personnel, supply the song that best epitomises the compilation with the track ‘Guadalquivir’ — itself the name of a river in Spain that derives from the Arabic name. Like Andalusia, ‘Guadalquivir’ is a densely woven textile composed of the many diverse cultural fibres of this migratory region. And mixing some of the same elements to make a very different product is Javier Ruibal (Spain) and the seductive ‘Perla de la Medicina’.
Eda Zari (Albania) has a style of singing that at first sounds like skat meets Arabic but turns out to be a jazz interpretation of traditional Albanian elements. Its bouncy contours set off wonderfully by Sardinian Andrea Parodi’s exercise in lush serenity, which succeeds it on our musical trip.
A touch of that Django sound comes via France’s Romane in ‘Swing 98′ and reminds us of those Mediterranean mixers par excellence the Gypsys, whose influence can be heard in so much of this region’s music.
When you dig a bit further, each of the songs on this album tend to contain within them a number of musical stlyes, each of which in turn, as a rule, are the result of fusions both ancient and modern.
CD Cat No: RGNET1143CD
Release date: 27 September 2004
Maurice El MÈdioni: Bienvenue – Abiadi 5:40 (Algeria)
Barrio Chino: Guadalquivir 4:51 (Spain/France/Algeria)
Javier Ruibal: Perla De La Medina 3:49 (Spain)
Yasmin Levy: Yo En La Prizion (Me In Prison) 6:15 (Israel)
Nawal El Zoghby: Habibi Dialy 4:05 (Lebanon)
Eleftheria Arvanitaki: Miazis Ke Si Sa Thalassa 4:55 (Greece)
Grup Yorum: Ozgurluk Tutkusu 2:54 (Turkey)
Eda Zari: Ra Faja 4:54 (Albania)
Andrea Parodi: Astrolicamus 5:25 (Sardinia)
Lucilla Galeazzi: Terras De Canto 5:01 (Italy)
Romane: Swing 98 2:49 (France)
I Campagnoli: Canti Suminati 4:10 (Corsica)
Simon Shaheen & Qantara: Dance Mediterranea 6:27 (Palestine)
Jil Jilala: Nour El Anouar 6:42 (Morocco)
Amr Diab: Anta Ma Qoltsh Leih 3:38 (Egypt)
Abdou: Kima Bekkani N’bekkih 4:20 (Algeria)