Lebanese folk-rock fusions from Rogér Fakhr for Habibi Funk – the label reissues unreleased and seldom heard songs from hand copied cassettes – it’s another Middle Eastern must

Habibi Funk are back with a compilation of Rogér Fakhr – a highly respected figure of the late 70s Lebanese music scene and also the guitarist for iconic music stars Issam Hajali, Ziad Rahbani and Fairouz – it’s another much needed retrospective of a criminally overlooked artist from the Middle East. The label acts as an essential outpost for the region.

The music is a blissful folk-rock style, with touches of psychedelia, jazz and soul. There is a definite West Coast influence too – Roger now lives in Los Angeles after not returning from a Fairouz tour of North America in the 1980s. Most of his music was recorded on Revox and Tascam reel-to-reel tape recorders in Beirut and some in Paris, during a brief exile when the conflict in Beirut was at one of its peaks. This feels like a treasure trove of grails, with half of the recordings being completely unreleased, the other half were circulated in a hand copied run of less than 200 cassettes among friends back home – much like previous artist compilations by Habibi Funk.

Gone Away Again and (Such A) Trip Through Time were recorded during the late 70s during a short stay in Paris when Roger was escaping the conflict in his hometowm.

“It is my friend Raymond who brought me back to Paris in the late 70s to record,” Rogér says.

“We stayed at his place on Boulevard Kellerman. Here, we plotted the recording of four songs at Studio Z, I’m not sure if it still exists. With Raymond’s savings, we hired three musicians. It was a little frustrating that we always recorded and mixed tracks over two days only. This did not give us time to re-do vocals, or add instrumentations, or do any edits. But we had the spirit and we felt good about progressing, albeit very slowly and haphazardly.

“Anyone who grew up during up during the Lebanese civil war had their life turned upside down. Any artists that were growing, learning, blossoming, had the floor wiped from under their feet. It is probably the same today, after a short lull, if not worth. But we’re all progressing, regardless of the environments. Lebanese creativity will never expire.“

Check out the label Bandcamp.

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