Giant & Guitar

A 7 track middle east album (39m 17s) — released March 22nd 2024 on Wewantsounds

Omar Khorshid's life, if short (he died age 36 in a road accident), was extraordinary. Blessed with a great talent for music, the Egyptian musician and actor became one of the best guitarists of the Arab World accompanying the greatest stars of the 60s and 70s, including Oum Kalthoum, Abdel Halim Hafez and Farid El Atrache. To avoid the political troubles of the time in Egypt, and to fulfil his artistic ambitions, Khorshid moved to Beirut in Lebanon in 1973 and started recording a string of superb albums experimenting with Oriental music.

He recorded for several labels including Voice of Lebanon, one of the key Lebanese labels of the time. He released his first album 'Giant + Guitar' for the label in 1974 and it was an instantly popular in the Arab world. The album, which has a great ample sound, was recorded at the Polysound studios overseen by engineer Nabil Moumtaz.

The front cover sees Khorshid on his motorcycle in the busy street of Hamra, one of the most vibrant Beirut neighbourhoods where he was playing most nights in residence. (The album was also released internationally as 'Rhythms from the Orient' with a different artwork focusing on belly dance)

The sound of the album is both bold and accessible displaying Khorshid's unique guitar sound, accompanied by a small band mixing traditional and modern fuzzed up arrangements. The mesmerizing opening track, 'Rakset El Fadaa', composed by Lebanese musician Nour Al Mallah, is a perfect example of Khorshid's artistry. Starting with a long, hypnotic guitar intro, it then speeds up with the backing of a groovy organ, Oriental percussion and the psych sound of an early synthesizer to great effect.

The album continues on the same mode blending traditional Oriental music with inventive arrangements as showcased by the Mohamed Abdel Wahab standard 'Leilet Hob' popularised by Oum Kalthoum, which sees Khorshid and his musicians shifting pace several times over eight minutes. One of the peaks of the album in terms of sonic experiments is undoubtedly Korshid's own composition, 'Taqassim Sanat Alfein', with Khorshid's superb guitar in full bloom accompanied by a few touches of synth.

A truly innovative album which pushed the boundaries of Oriental music at the time, 'Giant + Guitar' has gained in stature over the years and has become highly sought after by many DJs and collectors. A hugely important album which Wewantsounds is happy to reintroduce to the international audience for the first time since the 70s

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