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Various Artists

Give Me Love

Songs of the Brokenhearted -- Baghdad, 1925-1929

(Honest Jon's; US: 5 Aug 2008; UK: Available as import)

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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Evan Sawdey started contributing to PopMatters in late 2005, and has also had his work featured in publications such as SLUG Magazine, The Metro (U.K.), Soundvenue Magazine (Denmark), the Daily Dot, and multiple national newspapers. Evan has been a guest on RevotTV's "Revolt Live!" as well as WNYC's Soundcheck (an NPR affiliate), was the Executive Producer for the Good With Words: A Tribute to Benjamin Durdle album (available for free at GoodWithWordsAlbum.com), and wrote the liner notes for the 2011 re-release of Andre Cymone's hit 1985 album A.C. (Big Break Records), the 2012 re-release of 'Til Tuesday's 1985 debut Voices Carry (Hot Shot Records), and many others. He currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. You can follow him @SawdEye should you be so inclined.


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