Abdel Halim Hafez – Mawood

Though it is always with great sadness that modern record labels who release spectacular vinyl editions don’t offer such releases on digital formats for sale, it’s a forgivable sin, as our dear friends at WeWantSounds continue to impress with their choices of artists they so lovingly reissue.

Abdel Halim Hafez is at the peak of his powers at this point of his career, and Mawood is a shining example of the quality of Egyptian music during the early 1970s.   The good folks at WeWantSounds explain further at their Bandcamp site:

“Famously sampled by Jay-Z on “Big Pimpin'” for one of his 60s tracks, Hafez is captured here live with his full orchestra including Omar Khorshid on guitar. the album mixes traditional Arabic music with modern instrumentation and shades of 70s groove. ‘Mawood’ is one of Hafez’s all-time classics, written by the legendary composer Baligh Hamdi. This release has been newly remastered for vinyl and features the original LP artwork with a 2 page insert featuring a new liner notes (English/French) by Mario Choueiry (IMA, Paris) who curates Wewantsounds’ Arabic series of reissues.

From the album press release:

“Born in Lower Egypt in 1929, Abdel Halim Hafez became, during a relatively short career that ended with his death in 1977 aged 48, one of the giants of Egyptian Music and his legend has never stopped growing since. Alongside Oum Kalthoum, Warda, Farid el Atrache and Mohammed Abdel Wahab, Hafez revolutionised Egyptian music and became a hugely popular star across the whole Arab world.

Blessed with striking good looks, Abdel Halim Hafez started his career in the early 50s and quickly attracted the attention of one of the Egyptian radio’s A&Rs who took him under his wing and invited him to perform on the radio. His career went from strength to strength and from 1953, he was associated with the Egyptian revolution led by Nasser. His music mixing tradition and modernity made him one of the most loved singers of the 1950s as he developed a romantic edge that became his signature style (he was dubbed “the dark-skinned nightingale”). In the mid 50s, hot on the heels of his success in music, he launched his acting career in the thriving Egyptian film industry and also became a hugely popular actor.

Hafez worked with the greatest composers of their time including Mohammed Abdel Wahab and Baligh Hamdi who composed ‘Mawood’ (“Promised”).

Recorded live in 1971 (as it was the norm at the time. Singer would rarely record studio albums), ‘Mawood’ is one of the singer’s most recognizable standards. The song stretches over the two sides of the album and consists of several sections alternating instrumental parts and sung ones.

The song, written by Egyptian poet Mohamed Hamza, sees Hafez talking to his heart, apologizing for driving it from failure to failure and concluding that, to find solace, one must keep love at bay. He’s backed by his full orchestra featuring traditional instrumentation and those powerful strings that influenced the likes of Jean-Claude Vannier, together with modern instrumentation including organ and electric guitar by Omar Khorshid adding his unmissable twang to the
ensemble. ‘Mawood’ mixes tradition and modernity and develops into a hypnotic epic full of groove with a superb soulful performance by one of the greatest singers of the 20th century. An undisputed Arabic Music classic which Wewantsounds is delighted to reissue on vinyl for the first time since the 1970s.””

Blogger, label owner, record store buyer and all around charming lad who loves to share music with one and all.

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