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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa


By Tom Jackson
Published February 7, 2006

Bellydance Superstars Vol. III
Mondo Melodia

The latest in a series of spin-offs from the world’s only Lollapalooza-certified bellydance troupe is a workable collection of Middle Eastern sounds. In part, at least, lifted from the soundtrack of their touring stage show, it is no surprise that heavily rhythmic pop dominates. True Arab hits are represented by the owner of Egypt’s favorite Lebanese pout, Nancy Ajram, and the chaabi sensation Shereen—the sheer jackhammer punch of “Eih Eih” is pretty much guaranteed to get you shaking something—while Lebanese electronic duo REG Project offer their smooth oriental house cut “Harem.” Fresh sounds are provided by the troupe’s resident derbouka maestro, Syrian Issam Houshan, and Pentaphobe, whose spiky, stripped-down darkside rhythm track “I Cash Radii” is designed to accompany the “tribal” bellydance of Rachel Brice. An eccentric inclusion is Mohamed Mohies’ Hank-Marvin-goes-to-Cairo “Fi El Awal”: a priceless oddity.  Functional both as a souvenir of the show and as a workout for the home bellydancer, it’s hard to argue with music that can force a shimmy out of the most sluggish listener.