Nagham Fi Hayati

A 4 track middle east album (34m 49s) — released October 6th 2023 on Wewantsounds

Farid El Atrache is one of the undisputed giants of Egyptian music shining over the whole Arab world. Born in Syria in 1916, he relocated to Egypt at an early age with his mother and siblings. Influenced by his mother who sang and played the Oud, he learnt both and got quickly noticed. El Atrache started his professional career at the National radio station in the 1930's and quickly rose to fame as a star singer and promising actor in the flourishing Egyptian film industry.

From then on El Atrache never looked back and quickly reached superstar status with a playboy reputation to match. He was romantically involved with such female stars as Shadia or Samia Gamal and even with former queen Nariman Sadek after her divorce from King Farouk. These romances however would invariably turn sour and loneliness would follow burning passion, which somehow inspired his music and acting career.

In the 50s and 60s, El Atrache became one of the most famous singers in the Arab World. One of his songs from the 60s, "Awel Hamsa" even got sampled by the Beatles on their "Revolution Nr 9" from the White Album.

The album "Nagham Fi Hayati" ("The Melody of My Life") released in 1974 the year of his death. It was also the soundtrack of the eponymous film directed by famed Egyptian director Henry Barakat and also featured female star Mervat Amin. The album is comprised of four tracks. 'Alachan Malich Gheirak' ('Because There is No One Else for Me but You') and 'Ya Habaybi Ya Ghaybin' ('My Absent Loves') are typical long romantic songs alternating lush instrumental parts by a full Egyptian orchestra with parts sung by El Atrache. "Takassim Oud" is an astonishing instrumental highlighting El Atrache's virtuoso oud playing explaining why he was nicknamed "The King of Oud". The song is released here in its entirety for the first time on vinyl as a small section that was cut from the original vinyl release, has been reintegrated.

The highlight of the album is certainly "Hebina Hebina" ("Love Us, Love Us") which has become an Arabic groove club classic over the years featuring a funky loop and groovy organ. The song and the album actually caught the ear of producer Brian Eno who named it one of his favourite albums in an interview with musician William Doyle in 2016 for The Quietus. He told Doyle: "I've never heard anything like that... Farid had a whole orchestra, as did Oum Kalthoum, she had a 60-piece orchestra. But they never harmonised; what they did was use the orchestra as a texture generator."

Originally released on the label Voice of Lebanon, "Nagham Fi Hayati" was recorded by engineer Nabil Mumtaz (from the cult Polysound Studios in Beirut). It has become one of Farid El Atrache's most coveted albums on the Arabic music scene and Wewantsounds if delighted to reissue it for the first time on vinyl in its full glory, with audio newly remastered by Colorsound, original artwork and new liner notes by Mario Choueiry from Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris

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