Music Review Page
Bellydance, Classical Middle Eastern, North African, Turkish, Egyptian Pop and Armenian Music Reviews
Here are some short reviews of bellydance and other music cds. The reviews are my personal opinion and hopefully will help anyone looking for music. Please don't be insulted if I've missed out anything or if you have a different opinion! I don't have lots of cds so there are large gaps in my collection.
Most of the cds can be bought through my Amazon estore, Aladdins Cave (see links page), or from smaller distributors which I will be listing within the review where applicable.
Jalilah's Raks Sharki 5 Stars Of Casino Opera
This is a fabulous cd of quality bellydance music. The musicians are excellent and it is very danceable. It has 3 complete routines. which are ideal for performances of just under 20 mins. Unfortunately that means the tracks are too long for most performance situations.
The Music of Islam
This beautiful cd of classical Egyptian music contains lots of very danceable tracks, of around 5 mins long. Most of the tracks call for elegant and heartfelt dancing, but a few are more cabaret. All the musicianship is excellent.
Classical songs, beautifully arranged by various performers. The songs are old and are evocative of the era of black and white movies. The cd is suitable for courtly classical practice and performance.
The Layali El Sharq Ensemble Live Classical Egyptian Music
This double cd has plenty of classical Egyptian tracks on and is ideal for performance. Much of the music is beautiful, and it includes drum solos. The musicians are fantastic.
Egyptian Baladi Live- The Layali El Sharq Baladi Band
Mostly the same musicians as on the last cd, so no complaints there. All the tracks are Egyptian baladi and vary in length, giving lots of scope for performers. There are drum solos and the music is varied to show a wide range of emotion.
Spirit of The Heart- Suraya Hilal
This cd is from Suraya's performance of the same name and is very high quality Baladi music. There are vocals on some of the tracks and a short explanation of what the tracks are about. It is great to perform to, with tracks of varying lengths, and it includes a cathartic track at the end.
Hayati- Mostafa Sax
This all-baladi cd contains tracks enhanced by excellent saxophone. It is easy to dance to and good for performance.
Bellydance and Taqasim Nay- Samir Siblini
Egyptian music for bellydance with some great tracks for performance and a very long ney (flute) taqasim to finish with.
Bellydance The Music of Farid El Atrache
This wonderful cd has beautifully arranged tracks by this famous composer and has some lovely music for performance on.
Farid El Atrache 25 ans deja!
This is a great cd for getting to know some of the repertoire of Atrache, but unfortunately there are no spaces between the tracks. This is a shame because it would be good for performing to otherwise.
Delta Festival Bellydance
This is en enjoyable cd with a mixture of poppy, baladi, and drum solo tracks. Although a bit naff at times there is still plenty of good stuff to perform to here.
Doky Ya Mazika Bellydance
A mixture of baladi and classical Egyptian music this is a nice cd with varying length tracks played well.
Ala Wahda Wa Nos Ya Ashek El Sax
This Egyptian cd has some good tracks for performance and some nice saxophone playing. However, it lacks the soulfulness of Mostafa Sax's cd Hayati.
Bellydances From The Middle East Vol 2
Great for cabaret performances, this is an enjoyable bellydance cd with tracks that don't go on too long and have a variety of moods. It is a mixture of classical and baladi, with "folklore" tracks which are more folky cabaret.
More Bellydance With Bassil Moubayed Volume 3. Pe-Ko.
This is a fourteen track cd which contains some old bellydance favourites, such as Baladi Accordian and Alhana Ghalleb. Catchy and modern-sounding, but still with sensitivity, this cd is ideal for dassical and cabaret performance. There is a mixture of classical and baladi pieces of various lengths, including several taqasims with one instrument.
Bellydance! The Best of George Abdo And His Flames of Arabe Orchestra
This is a great fusion bellydance cd, with an upbeat Greek/Turkish style and vocals. The tracks are a good length for performing and the music is catchy.
Nagham Fi Hayati/Enta Habibi- Farid El Atrache. EMI.
This is a cd of music from old Egyptian films. Some of the tracks are danceable though the vocals could make it difficult to know what mood to convey.
Mohamed Abdfel Wahab Legends of the 2th Century. EMI Music Arabia.
Music by this great composer, including his voice which he stopped using in later recordings This cd is old-sounding and evocative with long tracks. Ths music is fantastic, but tracks would need to be edited for performance.
Treasures- Mohamed Abdul Wahab. EMI Music Arabia.
Another old double cd by Wahab. There are vocals on this as well as lots of oud playing. The tracks are long. It is a good cd for anyone interested in classical Egyptian music, and features the full 20 minutes version of the famous Laylat Hob.
Best of Mohamed Abdul Wahab- Hossam Ramzy. ARC Music.
With Ramzy's easy to listen and to dance to arrangements, this cd provides a good showcase for this composer of classical Egyptian music. Tracks are a good length for performance, and it includes classics such as Zeina and Aziza.
Best of Hossam Ramzy. ARC Music.
This cd has a variety of Egyptian music, including classical and folk, and lots of tracks suitable for performing to, such as Enta Omri. There is even a track which makes a great stick dance, Eshta.
Source of Fire- Hossam Ramzy. ARC Music.
This classical Egyptian cd tends towards long tracks, but is very danceable and for a modern cd has quite a spiritual/emotional feel at times.
Ro-He- Hossam Ramzy. ARC Music.
Lovely classical cd including drum solo. The first track is over 15mins long and is a great, complex and dramatic piece of music. Tracks of various lengths on this cd, all good to dance to. The latest version of this cd has a useful introduction to Egyptian Dance written by Hossam Ramzy.
Latcho Drom Soundtrack
For Rom/gypsy music this cd is a good compilation of folky tracks in a variety of styles. Some sound Ghawazee, some sound Indian. There are different rhythms from the typical Egyptian bellydance 4/4 and the tracks are generally of a good length for performance.
Charcoal Gypsies- The Musicians of The Nile. Realworld.
This 8 track cd of superb Egyptian folk music is ideal for Saaidi and Shaabi dance styles. Tracks are of varying length and good for performance, though the raucous instruments may not be to the taste of the average Western ear.
The Beloved- Suraya Hilal
From the Suraya Hilal show of the same name this is a cd of beautiful classical music. The band are excellent and it has a spiritual feel.
Beyond The Sky- Brian Keane and Omar Faruk Tekbilek. Celestial Harmonies.
This cd of gorgeous music is Turkish in essence with a mixture of folky tracks and classical ones. Tekbilek's music is well-loved and can be emotional and spiritual, with Sufi chants.
Suleyman The Magnificent- Brian Keane and Omar Faruk Tekbilek. Celestial Harmonies.
This is a film soundtrack and most of the 17 tracks are quite short, even under 2 minutes. The first and last tracks "Scenes of Istanbul" are particularly beautiful.
Music From The Arabian Nights. Air Mail Music.
Another film soundtrack, this is Turkish classical music. It has a mixture of fairly lively and ambient tracks. The tracks are varying lengths. It is not bellydance music, but nice to practice and listen to.
The Dark Fire- Talip Ozkan. Axiom.
Another cd which is not bellydance, this has ten tracks. Most are under 5 minutes long. It is traditional music, which is both emotive and good to listen to.
Turkey- Air Mail Music compilaiton. Air Mail Music.
This is a good cd for listening and to practice to, but unfortunately there are only 4 tracks and three of those are over ten minutes long. In fact the last track is a medley of Turkish songs and nearly half an hour long! It's great for getting the feel of Turkish folk music, with their limping (uneven) rhythms.
Arabia The Women's Voice compilation. Manteca.
This has become one of my favourite cds. Although this is basically pop music from Lebanon, Egypt and Syria, the music is fabulous, as are all the singers. Artists include Warda, Om Kalthoum, Fairuz and Najat. Several of the tracks could be performed to, with a bit of digging as to what the lyrics mean, and they are all suitable for practice.
Warda Best of Hemisphere- Warda. EMI Hemisphere.
Warda is one of the most well-known of Middle Eastern singers and when you hear her voice it is easy to see why. There are six excellent tracks on this cd, including the fabulous track Barwannees Beek, which is beautiful, emotive and catchy. Unfortunately the tracks are rather long for performance, at a minumum of six minutes and a half minutes.
Nour Al Ain- Amr Diab. EMI Arabia.
This cd is a great example of Egyptian pop music at its best. It does have a Spanish feel at times, especially if you see the video of the title track. Diab's music is catchy without being crass, and is always a favourite at parties and performances.
Something Dangerous- Natacha Atlas
A typically excellent cd of Westernised Egyptian pop by Natacha Atlas. This has some really good tracks and a sound which is both familiar and mysterious to the ears of those unused to "real" Egyptian music. Her voice is excellent though I would have liked less of a Western sound.
Oojami Bellydancing Breakbeats. Ark 21 Records.
This 15 track cd is dance music with a Turkish bellydance twist. The famous piece of music "Aziza" is ruined, for example, but has such a driving catchy rhythm that many would still enjoy it. The music is perfect for haflas and clubbing but unless a great fan of dance, can get wearing after a while. Since this CD there have been other Oojami releases, and tours across the UK.
Cafe Beirut. Virgin.
This is a lovely cd of beautiful and emotive Lebanese songs. Most songs are from the 1990's and are by famous artists such as Fairuz. Ideal for bellydance, the tracks are of various lengths from under 4 mins to over 8 mins.
Arabesque. Gut Records.
This is a compilation cd of Middle Eastern and North African music modernised and fused with a Western beat. It has 15 tracks by artists such as Omar Faruk Tekbilik, Cheb Mami and Stereo MC's. Some of the tracks are suitable for performance and all are good for practice.
North Africa And The Middle East- The World Of Music. Hallmark.
This 13 track compilation contains music from Israel, Yemen, North Africa and Bedouin tribes. It is a great listen, with a real variation in styles from chirpy folk dances, to heavy folk, to modern New Agey music. Tracks are of a good length to perform to, as long as the performer understands the style they are dancing to.
The Master Musicians Of Jajouka featuring Bachir Attar. Axiom.
This 13 track cd is of folk music recorded in Morocco. The tracks are of about 5 mins long and are raw, percussive, totally authentic music. It is perfect for Moroccan dance or for Tribal, once you get to grips with the rhythms. There is quite a lot of singing on this cd, expecially the "call and response" style.
Cool Mc Cann- Saladin's Orchestra.
This is a very enjoyable cd with lots of tracks, featuring mostly percussion. It is not all drumming though, and is great for North African dance and for parties.
Garsaaidi Basuc Forms- Tim Garside.
There are 11 tracks, played by this English percussionist and musician. Don't be fooled by his nationality though, as he has an expert understanding of Egyptian percussion and rhythms. Each track is named after the rhythm it uses and the cd is perfect for drumming and dance practice, as well as performance. Other instruments on the cd include ney and arghul.
Snake Spell- Garsaaisi. See Above.
This is Tim Garside's new cd. Like his last one, it is basically different Middle Eastern rhythms played along with a few other instruments, such as Rebab. There are 12 tracks of various lengths, and most are perfect for drumming along with or dancing to. I recommend both of his cds- they are cheaply produced but they are priced very reasonably, and I get lots of use from them.
Gorani Traditional Dances From The Armenia Homeland- Shoghakn Ensemble and Special Guests. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
This cd of Armenian music presented by Shakeh Avanessian and Laura Shannon, has a good mix of rousing, stomping stuff as well as more haunting and beautiful music, such as the title track. All the tracks are perfect for Armenian group or solo performance or practice, and a booklet of dance steps can be obtained from Laura Shannon.
Bellydance Superstars Live At The Folies Bergere DVD
Superb DVD. A good, long performance with both the Superstars and the Desert Roses. Mainly American-style bellydance, with some Tribal, gynnastics, stick dance, veil dance, Tahitian and an odd piece caricaturing Marilyn Monroe. Often there are lots of dancers on stage wearing similar costumes doing the same thing- like a chorus line. Fun to watch, but I'd like to see them stretch into more traditional territory and rely less on gimmicks. Then again, if that's what pulls the crowds in?!
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