World Music Network / Fuse
Music has played a pivotal role in just about every political revolution in modern history and the uprisings that have occurred in the Arab world in the last couple of years are no different in that respect. Indeed, the efficiency and accessibility of present-day technology has expedited the exposure of rebel/protest song to the masses. An anthem that helped spark the Tunisian rebellion that started the whole Arab Spring thing is among the 13 selections on The Rough Guide To Arabic Revolution, one of the more intriguing recent compilations from the admirable World Music Network label. El General’s ‘State Of The Nation’ not only became an instant hit online in Tunisia, but also later helped fan the rebellion in Egypt. Other contributors, such as Palestinian band DAM and Libyan Ibn Thabit, also utilise rap to convey their messages. Iran-born Sami Yusuf, one of Islam’s biggest stars, and Cairokee use pop and rock influences to get their points across, Lebanon’s May Matar Arabesque. The acoustic guitar-backed tracks by Egyptian Ramy Essam and Tunisian Emel Mathlouthi that get the compilation rolling sound more like passive US folk anthems of the ‘60s. (That said, some of the cuts on the special edition bonus disc show Essam in a more strident light, a la Rachid Taha, although that’s understandable given that he was reportedly tortured by the Mubarak regime.) Port Said’s venerable folkloric band El Tanbura resurrects a song that rallied support fifty years ago after the Suez Canal was nationalised. Ramzi Aburedwan’s three contrasting tracks, one with the Palestine National Ensemble of Arabic Music, also lean on soaring traditional melodies and rhythm.
By Tony Hillier
# Various Artists – The Rough Guide To Arabic Revolution #