Ahmad Zahir was a bona fide Afghan pop star from the mid-'60s through the '70s. His music remains popular in the 21st century, though he was assassinated on his 33rd birthday by communist dictator Daud Taroon on June 14, 1979. While Zahir recorded literally hundreds of songs in a variety of styles, this collection showcases the range of music he recorded throughout the '70s. While his early sounds were rooted in Afghan folk styles, his later music -- while keeping its ritualistic bent and using traditional instrumentation from sitars and many kinds of hand percussion -- also contained interesting production techniques and featured many Western instruments, from electric guitars, basses, and drum kits to Farfisa organs and upright pianos. That said, it was, and remains, Zahir's passionate singing in a mellifluous tenor that draws the listener in. This is true whether the song is of a spiritual nature from a Dari poem he'd composed music to, or to one of his own, more popular, political, lyrical constructs. Highlights on this set include the nearly funky "Dar Kunj Dilan Eshqi Kasi," the hypnotic "Awaleen Esqaam Tu Boodi," the blues-rocking intro to the nearly processional ballad, "Che Kelaf Sar Zad Az Mah," and the Spanish-tinged rock of "Az Tangna e Mahbas Tarrikey," with its psychedelic use of the Farfisa. While this is the initial collection of Zahir's music to appear in the West, and its liner notes are somewhat clumsily translated -- with a huge design error in the booklet -- one can only hope that more of his work will follow this excellent display.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek