The music is terrific. The liner notes, some might argue, are even better. To top it all off, Give Me Love was issued by Damon Albarn‘s delightfully idiosyncratic Honest Jon’s label. In other words, its got indie written all over it, in every possible sense of the term. However, with a twist. The noise is decidedly Middle Eastern, Iraqi to be precise, played by Baghdad Jews during the British Mandate period.
If you are a fan of vintage Folkways recordings from the 1950s, or own a copy of Sublime Frequencies‘ faux documentary of Iraqi pop, Choubi Choubi!, this record is for you. In preparation since August, Charlie Bertsch’s brand new essay on the 2008 anthology was published in Tuesday’s edition of Zeek. Like all of Charlie’s music writing, The Sounds of Jewish Iraq was most definitely worth the wait.
For an excellent companion piece dialing into the Iraq-dominated zeitgeist, check out Adam Shatz’ Leaving Paradise, published last month in the London Review of Books.