Filed under: Iran
♬ گل مریم
Giti Pashaei (گیتی پاشایی ) was born on June 13, 1948 in Tehran, Iran. She apparently inherited her passion for music from her grandfather, Jafar Mansoori, who was a well known poet and musician. Her early life was spent attending the master-classes of such musicians as Faramarz Paywar, Mahdi Foroogh and Mahmoud Karimi. Giti continued her education in New York, where she earned a degree in architecture from CUNY. She also studied “orchestration and harmony” while in Seattle, Washington.
Giti would go on to become one of the most popular Iranian singers. Her biggest hit was the song “گل مریم” – “Gol-e Maryam” or “Maryam Flower” – which was released in 1971. But the Iranian Revolution put an end to her singing career in 1979, since women were now forbidden to sing in public. She made the transition to composer, and scored soundtracks for a number of Iranian movies – many of which were directed by her husband, Masoud Kimiai. She also acted in a handful of films as well. In the late 1980s she moved to Hamburg, Germany where she researched Western Religion and Baroque Music. After moving back to Tehran, Giti died of cancer on May, 7th of 1995. She was buried at Behesht-e Zahra.
Thanks to Ramin and Jesse Kaminsky for helping with the translation and information.
Catalog number ۱۵٢٧٧۴ on Apolon of Iran, released 1971.
Filed under: Iran
When I started putting together the box set that eventually evolved – some would say mutated – into this site, there was practically nothing on pre-revolution Persian pop music. No information, no recordings, no nothing. I did manage to find a Fereydoun Farrokhzad CD that had one of his old singles on it and a CD-R of Mehrpouya‘s first album. Also at that time, Psyche Van Het Folk had a fairly limited page of information. But that was it.
But in the last few years, there has been a small but somewhat steady stream of releases that have become available. First was the Raks! Raks! Raks! compilation on Discos Raks. Not too long after, the Persianna label mysteriously appeared and released compilations of Golden Ring and The Rebels, as well as Mehrpouya’s Jumbo Africa album. And then last year, Finders Keepers‘ Pomegranates compilation was released.
This single is by Aref & Ramesh, and I am pretty sure the backing band was Golden Ring – who backed Aref on a number of his early singles. Both Aref and Golden Ring have been covered previously on this site, but I have not been able to find hardly anything on Ramesh. In the liner notes for the Pomegranates compilation, she is referred to as “This elusive rocker has been spotted in 70s teen-zines in Iran decked in everything from paisley-pretty to biker-chic“.
Thanks to Gökhan Aya for the translation of the Farsi.
Catalog number AJ 4303 / RT 2286 on Royal of Iran. No release date listed.
Filed under: Iran
This week’s post comes to us from Jesse Kaminsky. His weekly radio show – The Intercontinental – can be heard on WMBR in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For those of us who do not live within range, the show is available as a podcast. He also has a rather extensive collection of Iranian singles.
Information on the popular music of pre-revolutionary Iran is hard to come by if you don’t read Farsi. Most reissues of the music are in Farsi and have little to no liner notes, save for Göhkan Aya’s well researched essay for the Raks Raks Raks compilation released last year on Raks Discos. This is perhaps due in part to the political situation surrounding the music and culture, much of what was recorded prior to the 1978 revolution became illegal with the new regime and was destroyed when found by the police. Performers who had substantial careers prior to the revolution had to flee the country or risk persecution as even the simple act of a woman performing as a soloist became illegal, not to mention the performance of westernized Persian music that had become increasingly popular under the last years of the Shah. Records that you find now from that period in Iran have likely survived many hardships and they almost always show it in one way or another.
Stuart has already covered much of the cultural history of Iran in his previous posts so I’ll leave that for now and say that this track from the singer Pouran. She began singing in 1951 at the age of 18, using the stage name of “Unknown Lady” or “Lady Anonymous Singer, ” depending on how you translate the Farsi. She married her vocal instructor, violinist Abbas Shapouri, and altered her stage name first to “Lady Shapouri, ” then to the simpler “Pouran, ” collaborating with Shapouri for the duration of their seven-year marriage to produce some of her most popular songs. At the height of her career, she was well regarded as an actress and singer, possibly recording as many as 2000 songs, although that’s really an impossible number to confirm. After her divorce, she continued to perform and record, often appearing on Iranian National Radio, until the late 70’s, when the revolution forced her to stop performing and flee the country. She died in 1991 during a visit to Iran and is buried in the Imamzadeh Taaher cemetery in the city of Karaj.
As an example of the difficulty in finding information on this era of recorded music, this line from the Google translation of her Wikipedia page jumped out at me: “Art said his toe in Salt Lady nephew heartsome other is born of that era” in reference to her musical association with her first husband.
Without much of a discography available, I’d guess that this record is from the later part of her career. It’s released on Ahang Rooz, the first and largest of pre-revolutionary Iranian record labels, and has the analog synthesizer sound that seems to have enjoyed some popularity in the later 70’s. The single includes the two songs: “Shahr-e Paeez” (The City of Autumn) and “Ye Roozam Maa Ra Faramoosh Mikoni” (One Day You Will Forget Me).
Thanks to Hamineh, Kourosh and Ramin for their help on this post as well as for all the other information that they’ve helped me with. Any factual errors or misunderstandings are mine.
Catalog number AR-2519 on Ahang Rooz of Iran. No release date listed.
Filed under: Iran
The British Invasion was the term applied by the news media – and subsequently by consumers – to the influx of rock and roll, beat and pop performers from the United Kingdom who became popular in not only in the United States, but in Canada, Australia and New Zealand as well. But the music was popular all over the world, and influenced musicians everywhere.
One of the more interesting places that these influences turned up, at least in my opinion, was Iran. Iran’s openness to The West in the 60s and 70 was due most in part to the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi – that is until the Islamic Revolution of 1979. But up until that time, there was a scene in Tehran with a handful of bands and small record labels – that not only released local music but music from America and Europe as well.
Although I have seen the name of this band transliterated as Ojubeha, Ojoobe-Ha, Aajubehaa Ajoobehaa and Ajubehaa, the most common version seems to be Ojoobeha. But the name translates from Farsi into English as The Remarkables. To the best of my knowledge, they only recorded two singles, both for the Ahang e Rooz label. Their lead singer was Jamshid Alimorad, who went on to become an actor and have a solo career. He currently resides in New York City and still performs live around the U. S. His most recent album Jashn Maa (Celebration) was released in 2007.
Ojoobeha, as well as Flowers, Golden Ring, Googoosh, Kurush, Littles, Maha Jamin, The Rebels, Shabah and a number of others are featured on the recently released compilation Raks! Raks! Raks! on Discos Raks – the same people who produced the Waking Up Scheherazade compilation.
Catalog number ۲۰۹۵۱ on Iran Gram Co. of Tehran, Iran. No release date listed. This single was also released by the Ahang e Rooz label in 1971. Which pressing was released first is unknown.
Filed under: Iran
It seems like almost every other week or so, I will stumble upon another blog that focuses on African music. I would say that its much less frequent for Asian music… Maybe once a month at best. But the lack of blogs or websites or what have you that feature the music of the Middle East never ceases to amaze me. There are a few… But not that many. And of the six or seven I can name off the top of my head, three are dedicated to the music of Iran.
The Golden Age of Persian pop music started as early as the 1950s under the monarchy of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. During his rule, there was an emergence of a new Western-influenced middle class. Soon, record labels started popping up.
The first label in Iran was Ahang (“song”) in 1959 and pressed their records in Germany. Ahang records were distributed by the Beethoven Music Center based on Manuchehri Ave. in Tehran and owned by Karim Chamanara. By the following year, they were issuing more than two hundred records 45 rpm 7″ records. Six years later, the label change its name to Ahang e Rooz (“song of the day”).
Royal Records was probably the second largest label in Iran. They began by releasing more traditional Persian music on 78 discs, then reproducing old recordings in the 45 rpm format. Eventually Royal, as well as Ahang and a handful of other labels, started to release new recordings of different artists and in all genres of Persian music – including the new “Beat music”.
There were a number of Beat groups in Iran, including Flowers, Golden Ring, Littles, Maha Jamin, Ojoobeha (Remarkables), The Rainbow, The Rebels, Shabah. And while there is little information beyond a few photos and sound files, I have read accounts of Ojoobeha riding camels to the stage and The Rebels cruising around Tehran in a black Cadillac convertible. But beyond that… There is not a whole lot. I know that Golden Ring released at least two singles other than the one posted here. They were also the backing band for Aref on some of his earlier singles. The Rebels, also known as The Rebels 5 and The Rebel Kings, released at least three singles – one with a cover of The Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There” and another with a version of The Rolling Stones’ “Mother’s Little Helper”. As for the rest, I have only seen one single by each of them.
Surprisingly, there has yet to be a compilation of any of the music, Beat or otherwise, from Iran from this time period on up until the revolution of 1979. I’ve heard rumors that at least three different people that I know of who are working on compilations. But if and when any those will ever see the light of day remains a mystery.
Thanks to Gökhan Aya for translating the Farsi for me.
Catalog number RT 1869 on Royal Records of Iran. No other information available.
Filed under: Iran
Zia was from Iran.
The Iranian Revolution (also known as the Islamic Revolution, Persian: انقلاب اسلامی, Enghelābe Eslāmi) was the revolution that transformed Iran from a monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the revolution and founder of the Islamic Republic. It has been called “the third great revolution in history,” following the French and Bolshevik revolutions, and an event that “made Islamic fundamentalism a political force… from Morocco to Malaysia”.
Although some might argue that the revolution is still ongoing, its time span can be said to have begun in January 1978 with the first major demonstrations to overthrow the Shah, and concluded with the approval of the new theocratic Constitution – whereby Khomeini became Supreme Leader of the country – in December 1979. In between, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled Iran in January 1979 after strikes and demonstrations paralyzed the country, and on February 1, 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Tehran to a greeting by several million Iranians. The final collapse of the Pahlavi dynasty occurred shortly after on February 11 when Iran’s military declared itself “neutral” after guerrillas and rebel troops overwhelmed troops loyal to the Shah in armed street fighting. Iran officially became an Islamic Republic on April 1, 1979 when Iranians overwhelmingly approved a national referendum to make it so.
The revolution was unique for the surprise it created throughout the world: it lacked many of the customary causes of revolution – defeat at war, a financial crisis, peasant rebellion, or disgruntled military; produced profound change at great speed; overthrew a regime thought to be heavily protected by a lavishly financed army and security services;and replaced an ancient monarchy with a theocracy based on Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists (or velayat-e faqih). Its outcome – an Islamic Republic “under the guidance of an 80-year-old exiled religious scholar from Qom” – was, as one scholar put it, “clearly an occurrence that had to be explained…”
Not so unique but more intense is the dispute over the revolution’s results. For some it was an era of heroism and sacrifice that brought forth nothing less than the nucleus of a world Islamic state – “a perfect model of splendid, humane, and divine life… for all the peoples of the world”. At the other extreme, disillusioned Iranians explain the revolution as a time when “for a few years we all lost our minds”, and as a system that, “promised us heaven, but… created a hell on earth”.
Pop music in Iran started as early as the 1950s, and is generally credited to Vigen Derderian, who was known as the “Sultan of pop”. His popularity coincided with the emergence of a new, Western-influenced middle class. By the early 70’s, using indigenous instruments and forms and adding electric guitar as well as other Western influences, artists such as Googoosh and Mehr Pooya rose to popularity. The Golden Age of Persian pop music did not last very long, though, and was banned within Iran after the 1979 revolution and many of the artists fled to other countries. In Iran, anything that was of Western influence was banned or destroyed. Due to this fact, records from this period difficult to find, and so is any information about the artists.
Catalog number IR-2003 on Ahang Rooz (which means “Song Of The Day”) of Iran. No release date given.
Filed under: Iran
In summer of 1941 Britain and the USSR invaded Iran to prevent Iran from allying with the Axis powers. The Allies occupied Iran, securing a supply line to Russia, Iran’s petroleum infrastructure, and forced the Shah to abdicate in favor of his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. In 1951, a nationalist politician, Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh rose to prominence in Iran and was elected Prime Minister. As Prime Minister, Mossadegh became enormously popular in Iran by nationalizing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (later British Petroleum, BP) which controlled the country’s oil reserves. In response, Britain embargoed Iranian oil and began plotting to depose Mossadegh. Members of the British Intelligence Service invited the United States to join them, convincing U.S. President Eisenhower that Mossadegh was reliant on the Tudeh (Communist) Party to stay in power. In 1953, President Eisenhower authorized Operation Ajax, and the CIA took the lead in overthrowing Mossadegh and supporting a U.S.-friendly monarch.
The CIA faced many setbacks, but the covert operation soon went into full swing, conducted from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran under the leadership of Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. Iranians were hired to protest Mossadegh and fight pro-Mossadegh demonstrators. Anti- and pro-monarchy protestors violently clashed in the streets, leaving almost three hundred dead. The operation was successful in triggering a coup, and within days, pro-Shah tanks stormed the capital and bombarded the Prime Minister’s residence. Mossadegh surrendered, and was arrested on 19 August 1953. He was tried for treason, and sentenced to three years in prison.
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi returned to power greatly strengthened and his rule became increasingly autocratic in the following years. With strong support from the U.S. and U.K., the Shah further modernized Iranian industry, but simultaneously crushed all forms of political opposition with his intelligence agency, SAVAK. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini became an active critic of the Shah’s White Revolution and publicly denounced the government. Khomeini, who was popular in religious circles, was arrested and imprisoned for 18 months. After his release in 1964, Khomeini publicly criticized the United States government. The Shah was persuaded to send him into exile by General Hassan Pakravan. Khomeini was sent first to Turkey, then to Iraq and finally to France. While in exile, he continued to denounce the Shah.
During this time, Iran had a more openness to the West. But this was short lived. In 1979, following the Islamic Revolution, Khomeini came to power and anything that was of Western influence was banned or destroyed. Due to this fact, not only are records from this period difficult to find, but so is any information about the artists. Many of the artists fled the country, some of them (like the Black Cats) relocated to America.
I do not know the catalog number for the Iranian pressing (for the cover seen above)… But for the Turkish pressing, the catalog number is 40019 on S&S Records. No Release date listed.