Cheb Mami

Lazrag Saani

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AllMusic Review by

An interesting look back to some late-'80s material by Cheb Mami. Of course, you'd never know it from anything in the package, which offers no clue at all to the music on the disc. The liner notes, which are in French, mention a couple of early successes (neither of which is included here) in the course of a brief, but only partial, biography of the artist. Mami's more recent output has had plenty of global ideas tacked onto his rai music, to greater or lesser effect, and these tracks show he was thinking a little outside the box even back before he was a major star, pushing the envelope a little on cuts like "Salou Maâna" and "Hay Delali." Unlike, say, his countryman Khaled, Mami hasn't had his early work repackaged to death. But at the same time, there's actually little in much of the singing here to distinguish him from many of the rai singers who were putting out their own cassettes at the time. His voice doesn't come across as especially distinctive or special, and there's a flatness to the production that's not easy to overcome. So where did it all change for Mami, and where did he grow into the performer he is today? That would make more interesting listening.

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