Pakistan's music has generally tended to be overshadowed by that of its neighbor India. (It did share an earlier volume in this series with India, but fully deserves its own.) And while the two countries share of lot of characteristics -- especially Pakistani and North Indian (or Hindustani) music, there's plenty going on in Pakistan besides the qawwali singing of the late, legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (who's represented here on the long closing track). Of particular note here is Abida Parveen, whose Sufi singing is very different from Khan's, with her voice quite jolly and enticing rather than overtly spiritual. There's a highly developed instrumental tradition, as Tsiganes de Sind show on "Popular Melodies," in which the harmonium -- an instrument brought from Europe -- carries much of the melody, and "Traditional Pashtoun Song," which features the rabab lute. It would be impossible to survey the country's music without including the love song known as ghazal, and Farida Khanum, the Queen of Ghazal, gives an exquisite illustration of the poetic form. Vital Signs merged Western pop with Pakistani music and proved very popular while it existed, although, to many Western ears, "Guzray Zamaney Waley" might seem a little cheesy and coy -- like Bollywood without the soaring melody. Adnan Sami Khan (supposedly the world's fastest keyboard player) grew up in England, but his "Lift Kara De" proved to be a huge hit in Pakistan, even if his speedy keyboard work isn't evident in Eastern pop. However, it seems vapid next to the singing of Noor Jehan, the leading lady of both acting and song. "Jis Din Se Piya," a Bollywood song with deeper soul, is caressed by her voice and a delight to hear. This album does Pakistan a service, letting people in on what's been a well-kept secret for far too long.
AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson