Various Artists

Pomegranates – Persian Pop, Funk, Folk, and Psych Of The 60s & 70s

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As a label, Finders Keepers has been on a roll. They’ve issued everything from two volumes of Bollywood soundtracks by M. Ashraf/Nahid Akhtar to soundtracks by Bruno Spoerri and Dom Thomas, to compilations of Spanish and Italian psych; they’ve issued consistently fine recordings of rare and nearly unheard of records on CD. Pomegranates is a 16-cut comp of Persian pop, psych, funk, and folk sounds from the 1960s and '70s, recorded and released inside Iran during a period until the Islamic revolution swept the Shah from power in 1979. The tracks collected here run the gamut in styles, but it is important to note that the artists represented were among the most popular in the nation. These include the inimitable Googoosh who, though living in the United States, had commenced her recording career. She is still considered an influence on Iranian women. Her hits “Talagh” and “Bemoun to Bemounam” are both here. The latter, with its fusion of Persan scales and Latin rhythms, is utterly fascinating and irresistible. Ramesh, who was Iran’s first “hippie chick,” as evidenced by her record covers, is represented by her biggest single, “Sharm-e Boos-e,” with its fuzzed-out electric guitars, basslines, and a Hammond B-3 painting rockist atmospheres behind her lyrics. One can hear many influences, from the Jefferson Airplane to the Shocking Blue, in her sound. Two of the most revelatory cuts here come from male vocalists. The first is “Soul Raga” by Mehrpouya (the title track to an album of his own on Finders Keepers). Along with sitars, tambouras, and tablas, one can hear the trance-like funky rhythms of Fela’s Afro-beat and the horn charts of James Brown. The other is the electric folk-cum-cabaret sounds of Kouroush Yaghmale. His track, “Gol-e Yakh,” carries within it vocal influences ranging from Serge Gainsbourg and Jacques Brel to flamenco cantes, yet captured with a plinking upright piano, snaky electric guitars, and a slippery bassline. Virtually every track on this set is worth the investment, and the historical liner notes by Mahssa Taghinia are exhaustive and engaging. Chalk this one up as another winner for Finders Keepers.

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