Habibi Funk, the ever-dependable reissue label, is announcing the latest
chapter of their compilation of eclectic pop from the Middle East and
North Africa of the ‘70s and ‘80s. The album drops on Aug. 6, but the label is leading things off with a
very cool Arabic cover of the French tune, “Parlez Moi de Lui,” by Moroccan singer Douaa.
Give it a spin right
The label's press release
makes it clear that this isn’t a survey of Arabic pop then or now,
it’s just some cool tunes they’ve come to love at the label, and
as such, it’s got a lot of variety. “The final body compiled for
this record consists of some – at least for us – nichey pearls
and often overlooked artists; resulting in a diverse range of styles
from Egyptian organ funk, disco sounds from Morocco, an example of
the lively reggae scene of Libya, political songs from Lebanon,
soundtrack music from Algeria, a musical union between Kenya and
Oman, and much more,” reads the label’s description. I'd like to weigh in and state there's a song on here that rips off the Bee Gees's "Stayin' Alive," with the vocal line down at least an octave and much raspier, that's worth the price of admission alone.
releases, in addition to being great listens, reliably have great
liner notes, and this one is no exception. You might be wondering, as
I did, who is this Douaa anyway? Douaa’s daughter, Reem Mitten,
appears in the liner notes to explain that her mother was born to a
singer and a composer and sang for friends up into the mid-1980s.
“’Parlez Moi de Lui" came to fruition due to a family visit to Belgium,” Mitten
says. “A music producer there had contacted my grandfather to ask
if his daughter wanted to do a cover of the joyous French song 'Parlez Moi de Lui.' My mother then proceeded to translate the
entire song into Arabic in one evening. The following day, she was
recording the song. Another important experience!
was my mother‘s passion, her career did not exceed more than a few
songs,” Reem continues. “It had been a short and sweet experience
but her life took a different direction. She went on to be a
stewardess for Emirates Airline, having many different and amazing
adventures. Shortly after a couple years she went on to meet my
father Alan, an amazing Irishman. They moved to London, where they
still reside, and had four children, me included.”
So it’s a pretty
deep cut, but her artistry is getting a 21st century
hearing. And that’s just the lead track on a compilation that’s
just a chip off the tip of the iceberg.