Various - Pomegranates 2xLP
Label: Finders Keepers
Pomegranates is an amazing compilation of "Persian pop, funk, and psych of the 60s and 70s" compiled by a pair of Iranian-American music lovers delving into the pop culture past of their parents' generation, prior to the fall of the Shah, an era of rapid Westernization, economic stratification, and eventual sociopolitical upheaval. Looking back with bittersweet nostalgia, enthusiasm, and curiosity, they've put together a dazzling array of music that's usually quite groovy, also often melancholic, and sometimes subversive. Several tracks are considered classics, some are total obscurities (same to us!), all are irresistible. It's a colorful hybrid of East and West, of Persian musical traditions (already a melting pot of international influences) and electric youth energy. You'll hear strains of Western psych-pop, James Brown funk, Indian raga, Gypsy flamenco, Turkish folk and other "exotic" Middle Eastern motifs.
The highlights include Googoosh's "Talagh", which sets her sweet voice soaring over an insidiously slinky grooves, pulsating with sinister fuzz-funk energy under flourishes of cinematic strings. She's got a couple more tracks on here, as befits her status as one of Iran's top pop stars of the day, a true sensation. If you like Turkey's Selda, you'll like what you'll hear here from Googoosh and this disc's other female vocalists. We also should note the zinging sitar funk of Abbass Mehrpouya's "Soul Raga", definitely another standout (it also appears on the full-length Mehrpouya reissue we raved about recently). But we haven't scratched the surface, the tracks by the other artists here, including Parva, Zia, Soli, Sima Bina, Ramesh, Noosh Afarin, Kourosh Yaghmaie, and others, are all awesome too, varying from groovy dancefloor workouts to aching love songs, sometimes both in one. Lots to enjoy, dive in!!