Friday, August 31, 2007
'Adawiya is the undisputed king, the Elvis, of Egyptian sha'bi music. Although he was massively, massively popular in Egypt from the 70s to the 90s, he is considered rather 'vulgar' by the Egyptian educated and literati, and therefore, has not received his props. Little scholarly work has been done on 'Adawiya either, with the exception of Walter Armbrust's marvelous work, Mass Culture and Modernism in Egypt.
I know next to nothing about this song, "Qalaq" (anxiety, worry, pronounced 'ala'), the title track from a cassette release. When I can find the cassette cover I'll scan it. It shows 'Adawiya sitting on a couch, dressed in brown velvet jacket, looking like he's put in a long night. On the table in front of him is an ashtray overflowing with cigarettes. Here are a few lines from the song, "Worry (qalaq) in the morning, worry in the evening, sleeping and waking, coming and going." One of the most enjoyable elements in the song is when, about half-way through, it starts to sound, for a moment, like a disco song. The bass really grooves throughout. (I apologize for a few skips, due I guess to the elasticity of cassette tape.)
Here's a good article on Adawiya from Al-Ahram Weekly. And a couple videos from youtube. One (of inferior video quality) is of Adawiya in nightclub gear, singing one of his hits, "Bint al-Sultan," while Suhair Zaki bellydances. The other is from the 1976 film, Al-ghatna wa al-sa'luk, featuring Adawiya this time in a sha'bi outfit appropriate to his social origins, and singing "Kullu 'ala kullu." Mervet Amin is the dancing brunette, and Hussein Fahmy is the guy who comes in on the scene.