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Friday, September 24, 2010

An Arabic Party - Mohammed El-Bakkar

An Arabic Party With Mohammed El-Bakkar
Orient SLPO161
Rashid Sales Co., Brooklyn, N.Y.

Aside from the curious cover photo shot at Darvish International Restaurant & Supper Club, 23 West 8th Street, New York, N. Y. there is an interesting story behind this recording.

Apparently (from the back cover), the original recording was made in 1957 with "additional overdubs" being added in 1979 when this album was finally pressed.

A man referred to a Albert Rashid "discovered" El Bakkar who was popular in Egypt in 1930s. Albert, who imported records and movies into the U. S., wanted to introduce El Bakkar to the American market. WWII interrupted those plans. Recordings were made later after the war (1957?). But then emerging stereo technology effectively shelved the project.

Enter Alber Rashid's son, Ray. Ray Rashid remastered the original tapes for this pressing adding "additional pieces of music". Ray is also credited for percussions and Arabic drum.

Ray also autographed the back cover. You can find a photo of Ray with his family celebrating Christmas with with El-Bakkar on this website.

Researching further, I found that there are a number of El-Bakkar recording released in the U.S. with some of the best cheese cake covers I've ever seen.

El-Bakkar died at the age of 46 in 1959. He was stricken while he was preforming in the Broadway stage hit, Fanny.

I was wondering when these other recordings were made (the other albums found online)? And why the tapes featured on this 1979 album were shelved so long? And why, on this late release, are there no mentions any of this history?


  1. Would LOVE to here a clip from this

  2. El-Bakkar and Albert Rashid were very good friends and business associates - There were over a dozen 78rpm records released on Rashid's "Al-Chark" label in the early 1950's, that PREDATE his audio-fidelity series (Which was recorded after his contract with Rashid ended.) "Orent" was their other label. The Early 1950's recordings (1952-1956) were done in Stereo but released in Mono on 78rpm ,and later Hifi on LP. SLPO is the code for ORIENT Stereo Releases, and LPO for the hifi-mono. There were later reissues of the original 78RPM releases in Stereo in the late 1960's on-ward that pre-date this release.

    Albert Rashid was the most important player in America not only for Egyptian-Middle Eastern Music, but being a film distributor of Arabic films (Subtitled) on 35mm and 16mm from the mid-1940's to the early 1980's. Besides being a distributor and a publisher, he had a record store in Brooklyn for decades, which only closed last year when Ray (Now in his late 60's!)

    As mentioned, Albert Rashid was an importer of several music labels and created his own labels - Al-Chark Records and Orient - He would release soundtracks for the films he distributed,record new studio recordings (as with El-Bakkar) as well as licensing master-tapes from such labels as Philips and EMI.

    I'm glad to say to this day, the old Rashid music and film archive is now in the possession of a well known middle-eastern music historian/collector/researcher. The reel-to-reel tapes have held up perfectly and still play after over 55 years! As for the film archive - all but 10 known films still exist on either 35mm or 16mm.


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