The story is fascinating: prior to becoming EMI, the “Gramophone Company” managed to wrangle hundreds of recordings out of local artists in Iraq, a mixture of styles all coming together for these yearning, heartbreaking songs that existed well over a decade prior to WWII. Just listen Badria Anwar’s “Ahis Ras Eddelil”—you can practically hear the tears coming out during the singing. This is Middle Eastern traditional music at its most raw and unfiltered. Leave it to the excellent Honest Jon’s label to mass-market a selection of these songs for historical purposes… it’s just unfortunate that Give Me Love: Songs of the Brokenhearted provides very little thrills outside of a strictly historical context. Though the instrumental “Taqsim” does break up the action (due to four different covers appearing throughout the disc), a majority of these songs sound very much alike—which might have to do with the fact that the Gramophone Company employed the same backing band of Jewish musicians for each new singer that was brought in. With these songs now appearing some 80 years later, it’s hard to fault the recordings for being fairly rudimentary; as an archival find, though, it’s nothing short of invaluable.
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