Graham Reid | | 1 min read
As has been noted previously at Elsewhere, anyone interested in world music learns
quickly to never judge an album by its cover. In many countries the
cover is just the thing you wrap around the sound and not much
thought is given to it. Often an “exotic” landscape photo or
unflattering image of the artist (snapped at the recording session or
in the street outside the studio) is enough.
If you turned away from bellydance
albums just because the covers all look much the same –- a
bellydancer, obviously -– you'd never hear great musicians like
percussionist-composer Hossam Ramzy who worked with Robert Plant and
Jimmy Page, jazz musicians like Andy Sheppard and Chick Corea, Peter
Gabriel, Joan Armatrading and many others.
His albums contain exciting music, and
bellydance should make great albums: it's sensual and dramatic, has a
dance beat and interesting rhythms, and a long tradition yet is still
Today those edgy Arabic grooves often
get a make-over from artists who pull together traditional
instruments (the lovely sound of the oud which is like a lute), small
orchestras and vocals alongside Western instruments and sharp studio
Many travelers rely on a Lonely
Planet or a Rough Guide, and for many years the Rough
Guide has been releasing compilations of world music which are not
just region-specific (Malaysia, Vietnam etc) but can often bring
newer artists to the spotlight. Which might explain why the
well-established Hossam Ramzy is absent from The Rough Gide to
No matter, because here is exciting (and yes, exotic) music from Lebanese, Egyptian and American artists who bring together tribal beats, those swooping strings so distinctive in Middle Eastern music, sinuous violin, exciting accordion and romantic oud into a mix which is heady and sweet.
And it just makes you want to get up dance.
The well-annotated collection is helpful in that, it includes a DVD of dance moves by Florida-based Virginia (don't know her) which come with a warning that if you have a heart condition etc etc.
Virginia makes the seemingly impossible look easy and fun.
Like the sound of this? Then check out this.