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World Music CD Reviews South Asia


By Paul-Emile Comeau
Published September 27, 2005

The Ultimate Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: The Early Years Vol. II: Rare Recordings 1983-1984

Because he was the most acclaimed singer of Qawwali (or Sufi) devotional songs of his era, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s recorded works have been widely available. Consequently, he has found many devotees among music fans in the Western world, thanks to modern productions of his work appearing on Real World and a few other high-profile labels. So far, however, the Pakistani singer’s earlier works have remained less available and less well-known. The Early Years Vol. II, a double-CD set of 1983-1984 recordings that’s a companion set to a first volume that features material from 1978-1982, is a welcomed addition to his North American discography. While The Rough Guide was a good primer on the man’s music that included quite a few extracts of longer performances, the six selections on The Early Years Vol. II, like Volume I, are mostly unadulterated and make no concessions to commercialization. Although credits are sketchy, in spite of extensive booklet notes, the accompaniment is slightly fuller than on Vol. I and features hand claps, harmonium, tabla, and a few other instruments. The man’s glorious voice is ultimately what always impresses.