Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

King of Sufi Qawwali

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There are not only many, many Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan recordings out there, but also quite a few compilations of them. How, then, can King of Sufi Qawwali be differentiated from other anthologies of the artist? The liner notes provide a refreshingly no-nonsense explanation: "These two CDs concentrate on Nusrat's acoustic, 'traditional' output and, while mixing studio with live recordings, follow the sequence of a typical concert." And, it should be added, these two CDs focus on his long pieces; most of the seven tracks last between 15 minutes and half-an-hour, adding up to a good two hours-and-twenty minutes of music. As a look at his more traditional side, it's good value, both for its length and the moving, trance-like qualities of the singing and arrangements, "Meri Zeest Pur Mussarrat" standing out for the active interplay between Khan and other singers. Nothing in the packaging props this up as an introductory or representative survey of his work, but it might be more suitable for devotees than for listeners just starting to buy his recordings, since the length and repetitious nature of the songs might well be too much to handle at once for novices. Perhaps said devotees of the performer might be able to tell when they were first recorded and released, but the annotation isn't much help in that regard; copyright dates are only supplied for five of the seven selections, and some of these postdate his 1997 death.

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