|A young Mahieddine Bachetarzi. 1920s?|
Perhaps the best known of these cover artists was one Mahieddine Bentir, of whom Ted Swedenburg has written about recently. Bentir, born in 1934 in Algiers, hit on something big in the 1950s when he began transforming American rock ‘n’ roll into “rock oriental” and set French genres to Algerian rhythms. He brought tremendous energy to his position at the RTF (Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française) in Algeria and as an independent artist, one who was fond of doing summersaults on stage at a particularly rockin’ moment. He has cited Robert Castel, Lili Labassi’s son, as one of his inspirations. Bentir’s Ana Bouhali, his appropriation of the classic Je Suis Le Vagabond, captures a certain slice of music hall Algeria in the 1950s perfectly. Here’s a short version of the French and then Bentir’s exhilarating Arabic rendition:
Lili Boniche performs at the Salle Pierre Bordes - Algiers, 1959
|Luc Cherki in all his disco glory. 1979.|
|Lili Boniche. Ya Yemma (La Mamma). LB Disques. 1963.|
Finally, I would be remiss in not mentioning Salim Halali, the subject of my last post, and his Arabic take on another song about mothers, the Yiddish classic My Yiddishe Mama. Below is a classic Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt version and the later Halali adaptation. I dare say this is the only Yiddish song ever translated into Arabic but I would be happy to be proven wrong.
Until next time…Happy New Year to all.