Rachid Taha, Rocking the Casbah with Arabic punk funk
From the medinas of Algeria to the backstreets of Paris and the rock’n roll heart of New York City, Rachid Taha’s signature brand of musical shamanism spills from a potent brew of North African folk, European pop, techno, rock and blues.
A conjurer of songs that traverse terrains geographical, cultural and powerfully political, he is the scruffy punk with a rebellious heart whose passion is matched only by his charm and wit. Above all Rachid Taha is a great showman, delivering rude-boy witticisms and hilarious insights with sweaty passion while his band fire off raucous rock riffs and snakey Arabic melodies. Never mind the world music bollocks, this is Rachid Taha.
Taha’s politically minded songs defend democracy and tolerance through serious rock roots. He has gained recognition from rock musicians around the globe, performing with Robert Plant, Brian Eno and Patti Smith, and his music has appeared on the soundtrack of films including Black Hawk Down and The Future Is Unwritten with a now classic cover of The Clash’s ‘Rock the Casbah’. He has taken the title literally by injecting the 1982 hit with ringing electric guitars, Arab woodwinds and strings to give it a distinctively north African flavour.
Taha’s discography is eclectic. He produced two rock-based albums before going electronic with Olé, Olé in 1995. Three years later Diwan went gold when he sold over 100,000 copies in France of the hit single Ya Rayah, a popular north African song of exile that takes on a roguish air with Taha’s rough vocal. In 2004 he released Tekitoi, produced by the legendary guitarist Steve Hillage with some input from Brian Eno and he recently released Diwan 2, positioning Taha as the most famous modern exponent of Chaabi, the poetic form of traditional Algerian folk music.
For the first time in Melbourne and after four years since his last appearance at Womadelaide, Taha will unleash his trademark guttural growl over a driving mix of Algerian rai and Western rock. Join us as he rocks the Casbah – and the Prince bandroom.
“Algeria’s answer to Johnny Cash. He oozes rebellious punk spirit from every pore.” The Independent
“Mr. Taha is the most rock-influenced of Algerian rai singers, who mix Arabic and North African elements with Western ones.” New York Times
“Nothing is off limits. If an explosion of metallic guitar into a bed of raï strings and percussion best suits his desired tone… then that’s what Taha uses.” Pop Matters
‘There is so much energy to his music – I call it “punk Arab consciousness” – and I just wish all those guitar bands doing Talking Heads remakes would wake up and listen to what’s going on in the rest of the world’. Brian Eno
Rock the Casbah with Rachid Taha,
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