Friend John Maas pointed me to this sound file, the free download at audio salon.com, though you can also find the song, or snippets thereof, on the web, at Algerian rock/pop/rai star Rachid Taha‘s own site, and on his album Tékitoi — a title one can English as Whoyou? Salon audio picked it for interesting reasons — here is what they say about it:

It is a cover of the Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” — the verses translated into Arabic, the choruses left in English, and the whole thing decorated with the standard trappings of Arabic pop. It’s an intensely charged cover, not a simple tribute, complicated as it is by Taha’s belief that Strummer and Co. got their unacknowledged inspiration for the song from his ’80s French band Carte de Séjour, which they heard after Taha himself gave them a tape in 1981.

Interesting — all other reviewers of the song I’ve come across simply claim it to be a cover of the Clash’s song. This complicated matters a bit, even musically, as Taha takes the song elsewhere (home?).

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2 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Carte de Sejour covered the old Trenet (?) number “Douce France” (‘beau pays de mon enfance’), itself an anti-Vichy gesture in its day, I believe. The cover was greatly lauded by left-liberals as an ’empire strikes back’ gesture: the homeland song reclaimed (CdeS were from North African backgrounds). 20-some years later, elements of that same left rejected the cover of ‘Casbah’ as a sell-out to the rockist machine. It’s a tough life…

    Rachid Taha also has an album called ‘Divan’ (if memory serves…) which recasts for his generation a number of songs significant to the North African diaspora – including ‘Ya rayah’ which is the immigrant song par excellence for those of the 50s and 60s (and the only fixed entry on my ‘desert island discs’ list).

    Best wishes

    Mark Caallan

  2. Nada says:

    I groove on Rachid Taha’s totally hard-rock bellydance number, “Nokta.” Definitely on my most-played list.

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