Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 (Ecstatic Qawwali)

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This follow-up release to Shanachie's generally stronger first greatest-hits volume dips further into the archive of Nusrat's Pakistani recordings. This set of Sufi devotional pieces -- the music called qawwali -- starts out with a surprise, a slow, waltz-like song featuring qanun (zither) and sarangi (violin) in addition to the party's standard harmonium, tabla, and wall of male voices lineup. The strings reappear on other tracks giving the set of five songs a somewhat unusual character and indicating that they come from his earliest recordings. "Ni Main Jogi de Naal" is a standout. A shorter version of this piece appears on the Real World volume called Devotional Songs, but this 19-minute rendition delivers considerably more heat. "Mera Yeh Charka" has an almost funky drive to it. "Pyar Akhyan de Boohe" teems with restless, spiritual energy. The sound quality on these recordings is somewhat shrill, certainly more so than on the Real World material, but even more than on some of the other Shanachie reissues. Also, the brief notes give no insight into the texts for the songs. True qawwali fans should not be dissuaded by these shortcomings. The performances are definitely up to par.

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