Rachid Taha

Diwan

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AllMusic Review by

The sophomore release from Algerian singer Rachid Taha. This is a stunning album, as he moves through straightforward rai to blues, rock, and the full spectrum of worldbeat. The album starts out with a song about exile from home, followed by a musical history of rai, covering all of the basic steps in the development of Taha's chosen base-style. An Egyptian film song from the great Farid El Atrache continues the barrage of bouncing Middle Eastern and North African sounds. A more modern version of the ay-ay genre ensues, with fuzzed guitars looped throughout. Some urban Algerian blues and a bit of chaabi follow, on the topics of love and love lost. The album finishes with a stretch of slightly more serious songs, with a number based on the Algerian war for independence and the torture endured by its prisoners, a political song from a Moroccan group, a basic rai number in French pidgin, and a song from the frustrated youth of Algeria. This is something of a North African tour-de-force, as Taha moves from one style to another, always partially based in the rai tradition, but always expanding to other styles in the process. The songs can be backed by a simple flute, or by a group of rock guitars. Either way, the works are held together by the overriding compositions that Taha is dealing from. It's a great album for those that are already knowledgeable in rai for its new directions, and a nice album for newcomers as it displays the full breadth in a single disc.

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