Rachid Taha

Rock el Casbah: The Best of Rachid Taha

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Rachid Taha has been plowing over traditional rai for around 20 years now, taking what he likes and eschewing the rest. His career has moved from a regular rai band (Carte de Sejour) to modern rai, with ideas taken directly from rock and punk, as engineered by Taha himself (the classic 1,2,3 Soleils album also had the greats Khalèd and Faudel, but the sound was distinctly Taha). Here listeners get the first major compilation of his work, taking from the early (Barbes, Olé, Olé) as well as the more widely popular (Made in Medina, Diwan) albums. The big hits are all here as a result, as well as some newer items and relative rarities. Straightforward rock-heavy rai is represented by the hits "Ya Rayah" and "Barra Barra." More pop-influenced items include "Voila Voila." "Rock el Casbah" translates the Clash with an additional punk sneer, and "Jungle Fiction" returns "Misirlou" to its Middle Eastern roots. "Douce France" gave such a punk grime to its original sweet sheen that it was banned in France as disrespectful. It may be a little early to count Taha out in the form of a career-spanning album, but this one is an excellent primer thus far. As an additional bonus, a DVD is included of his recent return to Algeria (put off for quite some time due to the civil war).

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