Mahmoud Ahmed

Ethiopiques, Vol. 6: Almaz

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One of the great Ethiopian singers, and its first international star, in these 1973 recordings Mahmoud Ahmed shows a voice similar to Arthur Conley on a very soulful selection of material, with the slower pieces like "Feqer Endegena" and "Ambassel" offering him at his best (as opposed to the first three upbeat tracks which seem to share a single thought and groove). Of course, the fact the "Zemedie" and "Ambassel" seem virtually the same song hardly detracts from their appeal, the flute flittering around the former's portentous blues chords particularly attractive, with Ahmed's voice hypnotic in its charisma. "Kulun Mankwalesh" has an almost Latin start before the wah-wah guitar signals soul all the way. "Mela Mela" and "Antchiye" both tweak the American ideas to make them ineffably Ethiopian, as if the Muscle Shoals studio had been recreated in the parallel universe of Addis Ababa, while the final tracks, "Nafqot New Yegodagn" and "Yasdestal," could be vintage Stax, except for the language. Throughout, Ahmed's on top vocal form, a man who deserves to be enshrined in the soul pantheon. A master at work.

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