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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa

Various Artists

By Tom Jackson
Published January 5, 2007

Choubi Choubi! Folk And Pop Sounds From Iraq
Sublime Frequencies

On the strength of the three tracks included on Choubi Choubi!, there is a good case for reissuing Ja’afar Hassan’s early 1970s Iraqi psych-rock LP Let’s Sing Together in its entirety. Hammond-driven prog with guitar outtakes from “Paint It Black,” his version of pre-Saddam folk-rock represents one of the highlights of this fascinating compilation, sourced from cassettes and private collections. The rest of the CD is made up of some prime examples of Saddam-era choubi, the Iraqi folk-dance style characterized by whirling violin and keyboard melodies topped by a distinctive, improvised zanbour drum that skips over the underlying rhythm in unpredictable quadruple-time spurts, rattling like a Gatling gun. For sheer energy and inventiveness, this is hard to beat.