Part II: Bahrock Bands: Early Rock Bands of Bahrain. Ali Bahr: The Bob Marley of Bahrain? - علي بحر.

Hello once again... in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

The last post has surely shed some light on the fledgling Bahrain rock bands' scene, and we know now how it's hard to put any music to any sort of record in the 70's and early 80's back at that time. Part II of Bahrain's awesome music history continues here, with a handful of bands from that period.

There is no doubt about Bahrain being the most musically-developed and mature country among the five other less-interesting ones (namely; Oman, Qatar, the U.A.E., Saudi Arabia and Kuwait). Bahrain saw its first development in music when rock-'n'-roll invaded the world, and records were reaching these states in the mid-60's by way of expat British citizens who worked there mainly in the oil industry. The other states were slow at catching that wave, but most Bahrainis (and for their Iranian backgrounds perhaps...), took the necessary measures and worked hard to start their individual bands, one by one.

The roster for these bands started to get larger and larger, and by the end of the 80's there were around 30 bands active, playing to devout fans, like: The Sharks - فرقةالشاركس, The Roots - فرقة الجذور,  The Sun Shine Band - فرقة الشروق, The Sitting Sun - فرقة الغروب,  The Six-Boys Band - فرقة السكس بويز, Future -  فيوتشر, The Bahraini Trio - فرقة الثلاثي البحريني, The Windows Band - فرقة الويندوز, The Storm - فرقة العاصفة, Smile - فرقة البسمة,
Al-Kawakeb ('Planets') Band - فرقة الكواكب, The Stars - فرقة النجوم, The Lights - فرقة الأنوار, Ferqat Angham Al-Khaleej - فرقة أنغام الخليج, The Happiness Band - فرقة السعادة, The Friends Band - فرقة الأصدقاء, The Brothers Band - فرقة الأخوة, The Family Band - فرقة العائلة, The Peace Band - فرقة السلام, The Salatins Band - فرقة السلاطينز, The Candles Band - فرقة الشموع, The Al-Wa'ad ('The Promise') Band - فرقة الوعد, Abdallah Guitar - عبدالله غيتار etc... and with time and individual effort, most of these bands managed to buy their own equipment and learned on their own how to play these like real stars.

The venues weren't as scarce as some might think: Bahrainis are fun-loving. And with time the number of parties and small-scale gigs they played grew making some of these bands popular in nearby countries like Kuwait, and the U.A.E.. This fame and fortune founded in late 70's was probably, all brought by one guitarist who used to sing in Farsi songs made by the exceptional Iranian singer (our very next blog's subject...) Dariush Ighbali; and everyone in Bharain started to nickname him Al-Ustad ('The Leader'), Ali Khamis Bahr. His other, earlier one was The Bob Marley of Bahrain, because at that time, the reggae singer was so popular in all Arab countries that there wasn't one youngster's room devoid of his picture on the wall.

Early Rock Bands of Bahrain. The Brothers Band/ Ali Bahr:

Ali Bahr: Bahrain's best singer.
This young man (1960-2011), who was born in the island of Muharrak came from a very humble family. His father was a sailor and his family was known as a family of singers. The young boy grew fond of western popular music, and started to play in a rock band called الصخرة ('The Stone') in the early 70's (1971-1972 to be 'zact), then they changed their name into Ferqat Al-Bahrain Al-Sha'abiyah ('Bahrains Pop Group'), finally leaving it to form his own band along with what presumably was Bahrain's Godfather of guitar-rock music and Ali's cousin on the side of his mother Mahmoud Shams naming their band The Roots -الجذور.

Ali singing and playing keyboards.
Ali was a perfect keyboardist unparallelled in the region. And, besides singing in a well-formed sweet voice, he has excellent managerial talents that he used to bring together band members from different sects in Bahrain. The Stone grew into another band incarnation in 1986, this time named The Brothers: it was Ali's Shii'te himself message to the Shii'te and Sunni Muslim Bahrainins who never had a mutual understanding outside the realm of music. The tensions between these two sects are still visible these days and after Bahrain was declared a Kingdom in 2002 (the new Monarchy is Sunni), they are making sure to curb the power of Shii'tes in this small island of only half a million inhabitants.
The Brothers (Ali is second from right) circa 1986.
The Brothers were Ali himself on the keys and the band's leader and singer, Khaled Al-Thawdi (guitarist), Issa Bahr (Ali's brother and the band's bassist), Nadir Rafaei (percussionist), plus Wajih Hassan (drummer), Sultan Al-Mas (conga-player), and Mohammed Rashid. As one can see, these bands had many members, and played a lot of instruments which added to their rich sound, and was a welcome sight at parties, and wedding haflas. Not just that: their discography up till now is a jaw-dropping 27 albums in total! This is a lot of music IMO. But, their best and most interesting works are the first few albums.
Ali at his later days, circa 2010.
Ali passed away last year and was mourned by fans from as far as Pakistan and India. His memory still lives and will forever be Bahrain's best singer. Among Ali's many nicknames was 'The Golden Throat' or الحنجرة الذهبية, and that's quite spot-on. His voice is amazing. The Brothers are said to be after all... 'Bahrain's best'.

Let's hear it then from The Brothers. Two of their earliest albums are upped here to give you but an idea of how they were so good-sounding among these bands that were trying really hard to succeed having a fierce competition with each other.
T.V. picture: Khaled Al-Thawdi(left) Ali Bahr (right).
You're the judge now. Dig.

فرقة الأخوة البحرينية - Ferqat Al-Oukhwa Al-Bahriniya:

The Brothers Band - S/T: 1988 - فرقة الأخوة البحرينية

Have fun people.

Next on the Audiotopia? The last part of  'Bahrock Bands': Early Rock Bands of Bahrain, comin' soon!


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