Saadoun Al-Bayati

Songs of Iraq

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When Baghdad native Saadoun Al-Bayati moved from Iraq to Chicago -- a city that has attracted its share of Middle Eastern immigrants -- he continued to perform traditional Iraqi music. It was in 1973 that Samar Enterprises, a small indie label, released Songs of Iraq, which finds the Iraqi vocalist favoring a minimalist approach and employing only a few instruments. Al-Bayati's only accompaniment consists of percussion and an oud -- because the accompaniment is so spare, Al Bayati's vocals are really isolated. He doesn't have a lot of instruments to hide behind, but then, he doesn't need them. Al-Bayati is obviously a fine singer, and his soulfulness is impossible to miss on "Samra," "Iraqi 6," and other selections. Here's the bad news: this superb LP has long been out of print and has yet to be reissued on CD. So if you're able to track down a copy, grab it immediately.

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