Blond Blond – Ghnaït Robert Cohen [Sides 1-2] – Pathé, 1954 - Two months before fighting broke out in November 1954, a boxer from Annaba in eastern Algeria fought halfway across the globe to become the bantamweight champion of the world and a national hero back home. His name was Robert Cohen.
Albert Abitbol and Gaston Bsiri – al-Bashraf al-Kabir [Sides 1-2] – Disques Oum-El-Hassen, c. 1930s - Like all of the releases on the independent Tunisian label Oum-El-Hassen (meaning, “nightingale”), this one begins with the chirping of birds.
Elie Teboul dit Pinhas El Saidi – Istikhbar Zidane + Ya saki ou s’ki habibi – Columbia – c. 1928 - Cheikh Pinhas’s voice serves to remind of the vast and sometimes little-known universe of Algerian music-making that existed outside of Algiers and other principal locales.
Abraham Arzouane – Midam Bessari (מדם בשרי) – Olympia – c. 1950s - Despite the scant archival material, there is just enough to work with in order to erect a historical scaffolding of Arzouane, the label, and the recording itself.
Alice Fitoussi – Ya msalmin kalbi – Polyphon – 1933 - Alice Fitoussi (1916-1978?) was one of a handful of Algerian Jewish musicians to remain in Algeria after independence in 1962. In many ways, the continued presence of a highly visible and audible Algerian Jew in independent Algeria reminds that music can complicate periodization schemes.
Unknown – Bar Yohaï – Pacific, c. mid-1950s - This version of “Bar Yohaï”––of an uncredited singer on the Pacific label––comes from about the mid-1950s and was certainly the last ever recorded in Algeria.
Saoud l’Oranais – Gheniet U.S.M.O. – Polyphon, 1934 - Presented here is what is almost certainly the first soccer chant ever captured on 78 rpm record in North Africa. It dates to 1934. That it was written, performed, and recorded by Saoud l’Oranais, with accompaniment by the violinist Doudane, intrigues.
Line Monty – Ouine houa? – Pathé, c. 1952 - Algerian Paris in 1952 must have been quite the scene. In and out of the Pathé recording studio that year, for example, was a who’s who of Algerian artists including the rising star Line Monty.
Simon Amiel – Mine Cahlat Landar – Polyphon, c. 1934 - Simon Amiel appears suddenly on the Tunisian scene around 1930 although he must have been a known entity before he started recording.
Cheikh El Afrite – Lamodate Lamodate – Gramophone, c. 1932 - It is in this way––in inveighing against the bob and lipstick––that Cheikh El Afrite and his music provide us with Arabic-language insight into the potency, power, and pull of what we might think of as the age of the modern girl in the Maghrib.