Archive for the ‘John Berberian And The Rock East Ensemble’ Category

Middle Eastern Rock by John Berberian And The Rock East Ensemble

October 20, 2008

This is a prime example of why knowledgeable reissue record companies are so important to furthering our collective musical experiences. Track back to 1969, when musical worlds both sides of the Atlantic were looking way beyond their musical reference points and attempting fusions of rock with whatever took their fancy. The New York-based Verve Forecast label was always one to step out on a limb, and here they were perhaps searching for an interesting counter to the focus on Ravi Shankar’s sitar. Berberian played the oud, an African/Asian relation of the lute, and gathered musicians, including rock guitarists, who would be open-minded enough to play around traditional material melodies with some improvisation on what was world music before the term was coined.

The results are mesmeric in parts, and there is variety aplenty on the seven extended tracks here where oud and guitar interplay; the closest reference point would be The Paul Butterfield Band’s famed East-West. There is one exotically unintelligible vocal track, but elsewhere we get workouts such as The Oud & The Fuzz and a most satisfying Iron Maiden (absolutely no relation) with sax workout. Recommended.

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