3/16/2012

Osiris: The Bahraini Pink Floyd? - أوزيرس.


Ya Halla!

The last posting for The Jets was jus' marvs. I had to return once again to Blogsville as if transmogrified by a magical spell from that ancient land to up one of their Live albums as a bonus (Note: I thought twice  about doing so as some of the tracks there had hiccups and are repeats from other albums, but I did it anyway being quite the completist). And, from what I've seen at Stats, it's got a good 'blogle-age', too. This makes me 'appy, guys. So, keep on listening and DL-ing these wonderful tunes that never really got any airing befitting their musical and historical status.


We will haul ass now, leaving Egypt (not completely,though), to a tiny island in the Persian Gulf called Bahrain to feature its best-known and 'heaviest' band ever: Osiris. Plus, a brief introduction to Bahraini bands' scene of the 70's and early 80's so scarce and little known outside of Bahrain itself. Get ready for jus' another rare rock show from the Middle-east only on Audiotopia.


Osiris - أوزيرس:

Osiris playing on stage cicra 1986.
Osiris is an ancient Egyptian God declared the God of Resurrection and Life and Death, and the Underworld many thousands of years ago. This band has strong roots to this on-again, off-again cycle of life-and-death as two points. Their early formation in 1969 was a beat band (Witch), playing rock and roll hits like any Iranian 60's rock bands which we all know of, and love to smithereens. Iran has a close relationship to Bahrain and most of Bahrainis speak Farsi. They both share the same history and quite like Iran... Bahrain dates way back to prehistorical times when it was a Delmonite kingdom. It was declared a Kingdom again in 2002.

Osiris is a unique band taken from different points. It has a very early start at a place that barely has any band to speak of. This band didn't just break chronological norms, but also did create a new sound so progressive, and inventive, it became known the world over and has a great, rapidly growing listeners and fans-base alike.

Leader Mohammed Al-Sadeqi - محمد الصديقي.
The earliest members of Witch were Mohammed Al-Sadeqi, who played lead guitar and sang in his not-so-bad English, his younger brother Nabil who was the sticks-meister, and cousin Mohammed Haydan who played the electric bass. The Sadeqis later asked their older sister Faiqa to play the organ as early 70's rock bands were made of these four essential instruments. They played privately in parties and rock youth gatherings, then the Sadeqis left to study in the U.S. and the U.K. (people in the Gulf area back in the 70's were maybe, the richest people on earth sending their kids to study at the most expensive universities in the world because of the oil-dollars these Gulfanarian 'cuntries' posses). And, the band broke up in 1974 and reunited only when the brothers returned back home after six years.

Mohammed playing lead live in 1984.
When the Sadeqi brothers came back, they wanted to bring Witch to life again, asking bassist Mohammed Al-Shafee (he also played later the organ), and Sami Al-Jamea (organ) to play along with them. The band grew into a six-member unit with the addition of yet, another keyboard player (Abdel-Razzak Al-Aryan, ex-Sharks member which gets a well-deserved review here on Part II: 'Bahrock Bands': Early Rock Bands of Bahrain), and rhythm guitarist Amin Qahwaji choosing the name Osiris to depict their hard rock interest playing to but a small audience of mostly drug-crazed Bahraini youngsters in secret hide-out houses.


Issa Janahi live on stage mid-80s.
After few rehearsals and an intent to make an album, they wanted to get a singer to sing in good English, and the choice came on a nice-looking gentleman whose name's Issa Janahi. And, the rest? Osiris' first official concert was held to a gawkfest of Bahrainis who watched the band play their first 'super-band' gig at the Rabia Al-Adawiyah girl school hall wearing psychedelic garbs and standing like real-ass heavy-sters such as Pink Floyd and Genesis.


Osiris live at Al-Adawiyah hall.
Back at that time, there were no such thing as 'recording studios' whatsoever in the state of Bahrain. The only working studio in that Shii'te-majority country (they looked down on any western forms of cultural manifestations as a dire threat on their orthodox beliefs), was a small one-apartment studio called Eagle (Al-Nasir). Another session player (Nadir El-Rafie on stand-up conga drums) joined them to record the album's eight songs in late 1981 and early 1982.

Bassist Al-Motawa'a with lead Mohammed Al-Saedqi live.
The band also needed to send the reel-to-reel master tape outside of Bahrain in order to press it as there were also no labels at all. The album (self-titled) was pressed on a private Philippine-based label (WEA), which sent the 1000 copies back to Bahrain. Some of these were again sent to Bahrain's radio jockeys who played the album hailing it as a revolution in Bahrain's music history. And, they're absolutely right: Bahrain had a measly rock scene, but its folkloric music and national (as it's called there 'wataniyah'), music is the most prolific and documented music in the Arabian Gulf region.
Jalil Abdallah (left) Jahani (mid-pic) Mohammed (right).
Success didn't come flying in their way with colours: the band decided to break up one more time, and two of its members left to study abroad. In late 1983, they played live on Bahrain's national (and, only...) T.V., and by 1984 they were ready to pin down their second album after a round of successful hotel-concerts played here and there by the end of that year, naming the album 'Tales of The Divers - Live' which included some Arabic songs for the first time sung by Ferqat Al-Wehda Lil-Finoun Al-Taqlidia ('The Union Band of Traditional Arts'; a good sign of the band's reverting back to their Arabic/Bahraini roots in this concept album).
2nd album Tales of The Divers 1984.
3rd album Myths & Legends 1984.
4th album Reflections 1986.
Visions From The Past - 2007.
(Note: none of these albums are available for download because of copy-right issues).


Meanwhile, the third 'studio' album recorded was being recorded in 1984 (Myths & Legends): an awe-inspiring, synth-driven attempt at braver sounds which encouraged the band to keep as a single, solid unit without any further lineup changes (two members also quit to study abroad at that time). It was the band's highest time for creativity. Most of their earlier albums were so filled with sensitive lyrics and melodic rock somehow bordering on the nostalgic part, not to mention their deeply-influenced spiritual inner hints at magic practice, other-worldy existences, etc... trying to keep sane in a world that does not spare you your mind, but gives you mundane, worthless solace in materialistic abundances in countries like the uber-rich Arabian Gulf states.
On stage, Bahrain, with Debbie Moss
who joined them as a keyboardist.
The band's 'third' album (Myths & Legends, some say it's their second), was in the works, too and through their friends from the Philippines (Pinoys are ten-a-dime in the Gulf states and they leave their country to work there for a few bob), the band arranged to perform live there when some of the ex-members came back to join for this first outside-of-Bahrain major International concert in Manila in 1986. The Sadeqi brothers' youngest (Sabah Al-Sadeqi), also came back from the U.S. forming at first, another heavy rock band named Requiem but after a few gigs, he quit to join Osiris for their fourth album in early 1988 called 'Reflections' which was released officially in 1990-91 by the music label Musea. The band went afterwards into a musical coma whether because its members got busy with work, life, family, or just simply quit.

The full band on backstage 1984.
In the late 90's Osiris started to play and record together again, and the resultant album (Visions From The Past), was an ode to their lifework and those ex-members that passed away. The album included some classical music undertones which was so progressive to boot. Then, and in 2010 another 'pure' progressive rock album (Beyond Control - Live) in which they played their most popular songs was recorded and released. A year later, and in 2011, the band that tried to stick together throughout the years issued their swan song album after they got their collective asses to the grinding, recording-stone to release their last album ever titled 'Take A Closer Look' with the band's fullest current line-up of Mohammed Al-Sadeqi on lead, Ahmed Al Qassim on bass, Nabil Al-Sadeqi on drums, Khalid Al Shamlan on keyboards and piano, Abdel-Razzak Al-A'aryan on keyboards and synthesisers, and Ahmed Ravanbach as their vocalist.

The band today still rocking the world in 2010.
The band still plays concerts around Bahrain and outside, sometimes in memoriam of their earliest songs and just like Pink Floyd and its affiliate proggers (i.e. King Crimson, Genesis, Gentle Giant, YES, Camel, etc...), Osiris stayed a heavy-sounding neo-prog rock band that deep within... has a soft core of gentleness and a hope for happiness just like a pearls' diver searching for the 'good' stuff way deep into the Arabian sea.


Osiris at the height of their creativity mid-80s.

Featured below is their first and best album (S/T), with its eight tracks: a highly-recommended prog-rock visionary album by all means. Some of the songs there have far-apart genres of music (psychedelia, synth-rock, 80's electro-pop, rock opera) and the reason behind this was, maybe Osiris' trying to play more than one influence gathering these in one beautiful collection of songs like we would find in their first 1982 album. Dig it with teeth and gums.



Tracks Listing:
01- Fantasy.

02- Sailor On The Seas of Fate.
03- Struggle To Survive.)
04- Atmun.
05- Embers Of A Flame.
06- A Story Of Love.
07- Paradox In A-Major.
08- Look Before You Leap (Bonus Track).



Cont'd on the next blog-post:
Part II:
'Bahrock Bands': Early Rock Bands of Bahrain.

Cheers fer nows.


H.H.

3 comments:

Ray Tierra said...

Did you forget the non Bahraini members??

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