CD Reviews
of CDs from Index of Translations page
of this website


If you are are wondering whether or not to purchase a CD, you may find this page useful.

As of April 12, 2003 it contains twenty reviews, recommendations, or links to reviews. To be reviewed on this page, translations or translation summaries must be available for at least two of the songs on the CD.

And, hello out there! I hope that eventually this page will contain many more viewer reviews!

This page contains a review of each CD and lets you know what translations are available for each CD, and whether they are complete translations or summaries. (For purchasing information on the CDs reviewed here, and directions to the translations if they are not printed on the liner notes, see the alphabetical "index of translations" page, this website.)

And, of course, the opinions given on this page are just that, opinions. If you purchase a CD which is endorsed here, there is, of course,no guarantee that you will agree with the reviewers below.


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Reviews (or links to reviews) on this page:

Abdallah al Rowaishid (two CDs)
Arabic Groove
Batwanness Beek
Best Songs (of Emmad Sayyah)
Hossam Ramzy's Best of Umm Kalthoum
Cairo Road: Great Singers of the Arab World
Concerto de Andalus
Fairuz: Three Vintage CDs
From Nubia to Cairo
Gypsies of the Nile
El Hob El Mostaheel
Karma
Khaliji
Kirya
Ma B'tisaloosh Leh
1,2,3 Soleils
Sulukule
Tarkan
A Wish
Yarus
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Abdallah Al Rowaishid (2 CDs)

"Wein Raayeh" and "I'fini"

Thorough translations on the liner notes. (These CDs are reviewed by the editor of this website.)

I have put off reviewing these CDs because I am not that knowledgeable about Gulf music, but I can no longer refrain from praising the incredible skill and talent of this Kuwaiti singer. He is a well-known pop music star;I first heard him on a collection of Top 20 hit music videos which I had ordered from Cartouche, Inc. Soon I knew I had to have at least a couple of his CDs, and as soon as I listened to them I found that Abdallah Al Rowaishid has a talent which could hold its own on any concert stage.
I review these CDs together, because, although "Wein Raayeh" has more orchestral stylings than "I'fini" I like them both for the same reason: Mr. Al Rowaishid's voice!
This resonant voice, at the higher end of the male register, is incredibly romantic and passionate, skillfully and easily delivering the love ballads on these two CDs. His vocals soar above or dance with the sophisticated orchestral instrumentation; he delights by freely throwing in many of the little trills which are one of my favorite things about Middle Eastern singing.
The liner notes come with excellent English translations, also with lyrics in Arabic script.
The gentle rolling rhythms can be danced to, but this music is wonderful for just listening to, and I do, often.

Arabic Groove
Various Artists

Brief summaries of the songs' content on the liner notes. (The CD is reviewed by "Bibi" of Templeton, California.)

Are you searching for fresh, contemporary music for your total listening pleasure? Of course you are! "Arabic Groove" offers a perfect choice, a compilation of artists from Egyot, to Libya and Algeria and beyond. This CD will definitely get you out of your seat and on to the dance floor! The magic of the compilation is that it combines desert dunes with discoteques, French language with Arabic, and ancient instruments with high-tech gadgetry. Yet for all of its "danceability" this CD should be well-considered for capturing a moment that challenges rigid traditions while simultaneously taking a graceful bow towards the past. The blend of cultures is fascinating and in tandem with how our planet is evolving. This CD proves how the past can be artfully partnered with the present. Get into the Arabic Groove and find yourself immersed in a glittering dance club housed within a Bedoin tent. Enjoy! ***"Kidda" ("Bibi" has sent an addendum to her review of the CD, special comments on the song "Kidda")"Kidda" is, in a word gorgeous. The song has lush production values that complement Ms. Adlas' rich vocal dilvery. Upon my first listen, I was enchanted with the poignancy of the vocals, the magic that as a listener not understanding the literal translation of the song, (editor's note: there is a summary translation of the song on the liner notes) it still had an emotional impact which stirred up a deep reaction within me. "Kidda" was mixed by Transglobal underground, the group Natacha Atlas works twith, to consistently produce truly unique pieces of music which live up to the transglobal, cross-cultural vision they have. Natacha's haunting vocals and her sheer esquisite talent possess true star quality. "Kidda" in particular illuminates just how burningly bright a song can be and reach a person, to enchant with an ambience and richness only the best can offer. To hear "Kidda" is to hear a song not only with one's ears but with one's heart.


Best Songs of Emmad Sayyeh
Emmad Sayyeh

Brief summaries in the liner notes of the lyrics' meaning. (This CD is reviewed by the editor of this website.)

If you are looking for danceable belly dance music which comes with translations (summaries only) any of the Emmad Sayyah CDs produced by ARC music would be a good choice. Some dancers say that Emmad Sayyah's music is most suitable for beginning or intermediate dancers, but there are advanced dancers also who favor his music. "Great for restaurant gigs", says my dance teacher, Adayna of Phoenix. My favorite of his CDs is "Best Songs", which contains some of his older stuff. I also recommend any of the many CDs in the "Modern Belly Dance Music from Lebanon" series.

Batwaness Beek
Warda

The liner notes contain brief descriptions of the meaning of the lyrics. (This CD is reviewed by the editor of this website.)

This CD contains faultless musicianship and Warda's lovely voice. However, dancers may want to know that the faster-paced songs actually have a less-than-happy message in the lyrics. One says "Beware the evil eyes of the envious" and the other says "what a pity that some people try to bring us down". The last song has a wonderfully danceable Andalucian feel, and with it's vocal meaning which tells of the alienation when living in a strange culture, might be suitable for a tempestuous Gypsy dance. The title cut does have a happy message, but has a rather slow tempo, perhaps it would be good for a restaurant performance, but not for a dynamic stage performance. Warda is one of the classiest singers in the field of Arab pop music. (This CD is reviewed by the editor of this website, who welcomes other viewpoints---send them to yalenii@hotmail.com and they will be printed here.)

Cairo Road
Great Singers of the Arab World

Various Artists

Translation summaries available, on this website, of seven of the songs: Al Ward Gamiil (Oum Kalthoum), Ya Ritni Tir (Farid El Atrache), Ya Bajat Al Rouh (Sabah Fakhri), Abu Ouyoun Garea (Abdel Halim Hafez), Gafnouhou (Mohammed Abdel Wahab), Sehertu Mehur Ellyalli (Soomya Balbaki), and Eine El Lyali (Asmahan). (This CD is reviewed by the editor of this website.)

This compilation is a delectable treat: a wonderful selection of some (not all!)of the greatest Arabic singers, plus some I'd not heard of who are also a joy to listen to.(Soomya Balbaki of Lebanon "blew me away"!). There are some real musical jewels on here. Though some of the selections would be good to dance to, I delight in this CD mostly for listening. If I have had a bad day, this group of superb voices singing with powerful skill and emotion, each with an impeccable orchestra playing beautiful arrangements, will soothe my soul---and if I've had a great day, the CD is just as good at expressing joy in life. I am thankful for the excellent job done by Hamid Zagzoude of Nascente, in selecting the singers and songs on this collection. It is additionally valuable in that it enables a person who has not heard the great classical singers to experience a small taste of many of them, all on one CD. And for those of us who have heard them, this compilation of shorter selections makes the variations in style so clear. Though they are all so incredible that it is difficult to pick one over the other!

Concerto de Andalus

Artist: oudist Marcel Khalife, with full orchestra and five songs at the end which contain vocals.

The liner notes contain translations of the songs which have vocals. (This CD is reviewed by the editor of this website.)

When I first put this CD in the CD player, I stopped what I was doing and sat down, as I realized I was listening to some of the most beautiful music I had ever heard in my life. It sounds like European classical music, but Spanish and Middle Eastern flavors are showcased and/or blended. I would guess that this CD would appeal to many people who do not usually listen to Middle Eastern music, yet the Arabic and Spanish feeling is intense and pervasive. Incredible music.
As far as being what a dancer would want for a nightclub performance, this would not be it. But I know I would have been missing out if I hadn't bought this one.
Also, Mr. Khalife is donating a portion of the profits of each CD for humanitarian relief for the Palestinian people.

Fairuz: Immortal Songs
Fairuz: The Very Best Vol. 1
Fairuz: The Very Best Vol. 2

Three CDs of vintage recordings by the legendary Lebanese singer.

There is a website which provides translations for eleven of the songs on these CDs. And a translation summary of the song "Ya Mayla Al Ghousoune", from Vol. 2, is available on this website. (This review is by the editor of this website.)

On the liner notes of "Immortal Songs" there is a poem which begins: "Her voice is silk and flame in one. In Lebanon, we sway with it, sail the seas with it as our mast, and because of it we love." Not only is Fairuz sweet haunting voice one of the truly great voices of the world, but the songs on these CDs of vintage recordings are some of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. Many are by the Rahbanni Brothers. I am reviewing all of the CDs together because I love them all and for the same reasons. Lebanese music has a different sound, and I might have thought that some of these selections were Russian or French music, if I had not understood some of the Arabic words. The songs are ballads, and there is not much percussive work or rhythm changes. Yet I have seen a very beautiful veil dance done to one of these songs. Yes, I had a life before I heard the music of Fairuz, but hearing her has expanded my life from what it was before.

From Nubia to Cairo
Ali Hassan Kuban

Full translations on the liner notes. (This recording is reviewed by the editor of this website).

This recording is some of the most danceable ethnic Egyptian music I have ever heard. According to the liner notes on my cassette copy of this recording, the Cuban embassy once kept Ali Kuban Hassan prisoner so that he could play all night for one of their parties, and I can believe it! Great upbeat vocals,and powerful drums and bass lines; many of the selections were top hits in Egypt in their day. The music has a very ethnic feel, yet would be suitable to audiences who are not accustomed to the ethnic music of Egypt, as Ali Kuban is much more pop-influenced than, say, "Gypsies of the Nile". I love this recording; it vibrates with life! When I was recently in Egypt, the waiters on our cruise boat between Luxor and Aswan were Nubian. I mentioned Ali Kuban, and our waiter Omar said "my Ali Kuban, my Ali Kuban, I love my Ali Kuban", touching his hand to his heart. Then he said, "My Ali Kuban is no more". And that is how I learned that Ali Hassan Kuban died a couple of years ago. (The selections are all longer than five minutes.)

Gypsies of the Nile
Rahhal
(Presented by Hossam Ramzy)

Extensive translations on the liner notes. (This CD is Reviewed by the editor of this website.)

Rahhal are gypsy performers who travel up and down the Nile entertaining at weddings, festivals and religious ceremonies. This CD is produced by Hossam Ramzy, who has recorded this troupe just as they sound whenever they perform. This is the real ethnic stuff, incredible sounds of the rebaba (Arabic violin) the Magrouna (Arabic version of the clarinet) and the Mizmar, (Arabic version of the oboe), the wonderful drums, and the powerful vocals of Hala Mahmoud, who is only 14 years old at the time of the recording. The selections average around seven minutes though one is about three minutes. More suitable for an ethnic style performance than a cabaret, and better suited to audiences who are accustomed to ethnic sounds. If you liked the music of the Egyptian Gypsies in Latcho Drom, you will love this. As for me, it's one of my personal favorites!

El Hob El Mostaheel
Artist: Kazem El Saher

Translation summaries on the liner notes of the CD, for all songs. (This "review" contains a few words of recommendation from well-known dancer Leyla Lanty, whose CD "Ma B'tisaloosh Leh" is reviewed on this page,and a link to a website which contains a review of the CD.)

Leyla Lanty writes that this CD contains some wonderful listening music, and she praises Kazem El Saher's "magnificent voice and style. He truly is a superstar of Arabic music. But it is not generally usable for dance performance except for perhaps one or two tracks which could be used for slow veil numbers or taqsiim improvisation."

A review of this CD and several other of Kazem El Saher's recordings may be read at The Kazem El Saher Information Centre, a fan-owned website.

Hossam Ramzy's Best of Umm Kalthoum

Short summaries of the meaning of the lyrics provided on the liner notes of the CD.

This CD is all instrumental, so the viewer may wonder why I list it on my website. The reason is that these songs are so well-known in the Arab world that many in the audience may be thinking of the words while the melodies are playing. To read a review of this CD, go to raqs sharqi.com. The review is by the editor of that website, Nikki Brown.

Karma
Tarkan

Translations to all of the songs on this CD by the Turkish pop-idol are found on a fan-owned website. (This review was sent by viewer Priscilla, a Puerto Rican dancer who now resides in Memphis, Tennessee.)

1) Ask--Good beat for dancing; has a certain Spanish flavor in it. Beautiful violin, good drumming and guitar
2)Ay --good beat, a little repetitive but can still be danced to
3)Kuzu Kuzu--one of my favorites, and the first release single. this song does for this album what Simarik did for the CD "Tarkan". Good temp with easy changes in the music, you can get creative with different moves
4) Giti Giteli---nice, soft ballad. Good for veil work. Good also for relaxing, soaking in the bathdub, massaging your aching feet and ankles, aromatherapy--you get the picture
5)Uzak--techno-pop song--Excellent for party material
6)Yandim---ballad, didn't inspire me to dance
7) O'na Sor--ballad, maybe some veil work
8) Hup--very good song for hip-shimmies, good changes in music
9) Sen Baskasin ---Good dance song
10) Tas--Nice string intro, good for dancing
11) Her Nerdeysen---great beat with some Latin/salsa


Khaliji

Artists: Souhail Kaspar and Naser Musa

This is not a review, but a strong recommendation, based on the fact that when a Middle East Dance List subscriber posted a request for recommendations of danceable Khaliji music, several very well-known dancers responded by recommending this CD. The different styles of gulf music are represented.(The CD is made by U.S. based Middle Eastern musicians.) The on-line source gives some information about the CD and a link to one of the soloists' websites, where you will find testimonials to his excellence as a musician.

Kirya

Artist: the late Ofra Haza

Translation summaries are found to most of the songs on the CD. (This CD is reviewed by "Bibi".)

Ofra Haza has the voice of an enchantress. Kirya is the album that proves it. Ms. Haza possesses the uncanny ability to project both the ethereal and the earthy simultaneously while singing. Her voice displays vulnerability, power, and every nuance in between. The CD begins with the title track "Kirya" which is an ancient and affectionate nickname used for the city of Jerusalem. The meaning of the song, taken from the CD liner notes, is "Kirya, you are so beautiful, so wonderful, so sacred...but why do so many of our sons have to die every day... because of you....Kirya yefefia masios le ara yich, Er ne ma na, at le mal ceh ya se ra yich..The CD flows seamlessly from track to track, taking the listener on an emotional journey of times and place and being. The musical arrangements subtly blend with Ofra's voice and encourange the lyrics to take center stage.
Punk rock veteran Iggy Pop is a guest voicalist on "Daw Da Hiya" a surprising yet fitting choice. Iggy has a very direct vocal delivery, and it plays well of of Ofra's sometimes surealistic voice. All of the songs on Kirya are beautiful, which can lead the listener to have a new favorite song from it each day. This CD has that ability, by bringing personal memories, deep emotions, and half-real dreams to the surface. Kirya is comparable to seeing the sky at dusk while alone...an ever mysterious, slightly melancholy and eternally beautiful experience.
Add Kirya to your CD collection. Ofra Haza's voice will hauntingly bring you back to listening to it again and again.

Note for dancers: Bibi writes that she uses the selections "Horashoot" and "Mystery, Fate and Love" as dance numbers.

(Editor's note: See the entry "Ofra Haza" under "H" on the Song Translations from Other Languages of the Middle East page of this website.)

Ma B'tisaloosh Leh
Khalil Abboud

Translations to two of the songs on this CD, "Sanateen Wana Hayyil" and "Ya Tayyeb el Galb" are found here on this website, and summary translations to all of the songs are provided at the producer's website.(The CD is reviewed by the editor of this website.)

I love this CD. It is great belly dance music, but it has, to me, more of an emotional quality than most belly dance CDs. It was produced in Cairo by an American belly dancer, Leyla Lanty. Mr. Abboud's vocals have a dreamy, yearning quality which hit me like a strong drink, (after I'd listened to several tracks!), and I find I still reach for the CD often, both for dancing and for listening. One of the cuts is suitable for a complete nightclub routine, with hip-shakin' drum solo, fast and slow sections. For details about the musicians, and more, see the producer's website, leylalanty.com.

Sulukule
Rom Music of Istanbul

Liner notes contain complete transliterations and translations, as well as pages of interesting information about the Sulukule neighborhoods, the musicians, and a description of a typical night's entertainment there. (This review is by the editor of this website.)

This music is the unadulterated "real thing", not smoothed-over or mixed with pop sounds. When I first heard it, I was a little put off by what sounded to me like harsh dissonance and a whining quality in the music. Perhaps it would not be the best choice if you are a dancer and are performing for audiences who are accustomed to western music. But I think audiences who are "into" the music of the Middle East would love it! Several cuts into the CD I was hooked. It feels as if you are in one of the the small clubs of the old Rom neighborhood, where there are no signs out front of the places, and everything is arranged by word of mouth. The selections are in 9/8 and 2/4 rhythms, and range from 3 to 6 minutes in length. They are all danceable. The very foreign quality of the sound might make this music suitable for ethnic costuming.

1,2,3 Soleils
Khaled, Rashid Taha, Faudel

Translations (or summaries) available for at least six of the songs: Eray, N'ssi N'ssi, Abdel Khader, Aicha, Tellement n'Brik, and Ya Rayah.

This CD is reviewed by the editor of this website.

Having heard about rai music for years, I bought this CD on a whim while at Border's Books. I listened to it as soon as I got home, and listened to little else for at least a week! This CD is a live recording of a very famous concert in Paris, which took place in September of 1998. The success of this huge, sold-out concert represented a coming of age of rai music, according to the liner notes of the CD. Rai music sounds very joyful to me, with surging vocals, and a variety of moving, driving beats, and the instrumental work of a complete orchestra which inspite of its size manages to have the fresh energy of a small ensemble playing for the love of it. Also, on 1,2,3 Soleils you can hear the exuberant sound of the adoring crowd, which numbered 18,000, and could not stay in their seats. Although one can hear western influences in rai music, some how it keeps a pure flavor of the culture of Algeria (and the other countries of northwest Africa). Since hearing this CD, I have purchased other rai CDs, and was happy to find the forum at "Cafe Rai" (see links page, this website) where quite a few English translations of the rai lyrics are posted.


Tarkan
Tarkan

Full English translations of this Turkish recording are available on a fan-based website. (This review was sent by Priscilla, a Puerto Rican dancer who now resides in Memphis, Tennessee. She has generously taken the time to review every cut on the CD.)

1)Simarik (Spoiled) Who does not love this song? The beginning kiss ("Muahh!") at the very start it grabs you with the modern music, and from then on there's no way you can sit down if this song is playing. I'd say any level can dance to it and I'd love to see the choreographies dancers have done with this. A winner song any time!
2)Olarum Sana (I would die for you) Talks about how love has come into his life, and how deeply in love he has fallen--(where have you been before, etc.) A good song for dance, constant beat. Moves I used with it: walking soft shimmies, some turns.
3) Break Free Tonight Very pop-techno. I like it for its consistent beats. Didn't move me to do oriental moves, but still a good song for aerobics or spinning. The lyrics are very sensuous.
4) Sikidim (Dirty dancing, is this all yours) good song with lots of different changes of music, that I think the intermediate/advanced dancers may be able to do little different moves. (I found myself doing a little debke, slower moves and arms, to take advantage of these changes in the melody of the song) Lyrics are provocative but in a playful way.(Oh the way you move you drive me crazy, etc.)
5)Salina Salina Sindice (Sneaky Tripling) An okay song, slower tempo, didn't move me to dance, more to listen to him sing.(You are a charming mischief, a cure for every misery, etc.)
6) Unut Beni (Forget me) A sad song, but Tarkan really puts all his emotion into this one. He talks about his loneliness, past loves. (Stay away from love, forget me.) Slower tempo, good for veil work.
7)Inci Tanem (My Pearl) Another sad but beautiful and romantic goodbye song to his love. To slow even for veil work, great musical arrangements and singing.
8) Don Bebegim (Baby come back) One of my favorite beautiful romantic song, great for dedications. Starts with a flute or clarinet solo. Excellent for all levels of dancing.
9) Basina Bala Olorun (I will be your misery). Fast paced song. This one felt to me to be the one with the most oriental/Turkish feel of all on this CD. To this one you can do some great hip drops and undulations. Allows for lots of movements. Not for the faint-hearted; very fast but great to dance to!
10) Beni Anlama (Don't try to understand me) Slow balad but a little too slow. Might be okay for ballet moves! Or cool down stretches or Pilates workout.

A Wish
Hamza El Din

English translations of many of the songs are available on the liner notes. (This CD is reviewed by Lucy Lipschitz of Tucson, Arizona).

If Nubia were a person, it would be Hamza El Din. Mr. El Din lives and breathes his homeland. In his music, I can feel the soft desert breezes blowing off the Nile, feel the date palms swaying and swishing in the breeze. He is considered the father of modern Nubian music.
Even while he lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mr. El Din has spent his whole life sharing his culture and coutry with the world. Sadly, the village where he is from, Toshka, as well as the rest of what was once Nubia, is covered under water by the Aswan High Dam. In "A Wish", this CD is full of modern yet traditional songs. With songs written by many different poets and composers, each one is given Nubian soul and spirit. He uses traditional instruments such as the Oud, dumbek, clay drum, tar, and even hand-clapping. The songs are sung in Nubian and Arabic. Mr. El Din is also an Oud virtuoso. He likes to bring in many different musicians and singers to help round out his sound.
Without going into every one, I would like to describe song #1, or "Greetings": A heartbreaking song of a young married couple, forced to divorce by their families, due to familial conflict. Sadly, the families are neighbors, with houses sharing the same wall. The young couple can hear the other's voice on the other side, and not being able to see eachother again, begin to sing their love and devotion to the other, through the wall. It is very heartbreaking and yet a burning tribute to true love.
The other song that I found remarkable was "Nagrishad". This is a traditional Nubian wedding song march, once used for great kings and queens. The "Nagrishad" is actually a certain type of rhythm, that also includes counter-hand-clapping, of 48 beats. This is an incredible song for any dancer, not only dramatic, but can show off a dancer's ability to hear the complicated rhythm and move well to it. The last song "A Wish" is devoted to Nubia, and how good it will be for the Nubians to be a people again. Hamza El Din describes with love, the beauty and longing his people feel about going home again. It may not be the same exact home, but he speaks of how just being close, living on the new Lake Nubia, will be sweet and lovely.

(Editor's note): The feeling of the music on "A Wish" is beautiful, calm, almost meditative. (Some of the cuts are solo oud recordings.) It is the furthest thing from the frenzied performance of a nightclub band. And the harmonies of Hamza El Din and a woman singer, on the first cut, are breathtakingly beautiful.

Yarus
Mirage

The liner notes contain brief descriptions of the songs meaning, and a thoroughly detailed review by Pam Parker ("Yasmina") may be read by clicking on "Music reviews" at Joy of Belly Dancing