Earlier today, Habibi Funk Records re-released Mouasalat Ila Jacad El Ard - the debut album from singer and main composer of the Lebanese band Ferkat Al Ard, Issam Hajali. The album was recorded in 1976, when Issam moved to Paris at the onset of Syria's occupation of Lebanon, as a result of his activity in the left-wing Lebanese movement. Made up of Palestinian Samih al-Qasim's poetry, the album is a lyrical expression of Hajali's political views, while undergoing exile at the time.
While the album was being recorded (in a weekly studio session in Paris funded by busking), Issam assembled French, Algerian, Lebanese and Iranian artists to create the band, Ferkat Al Ard. So, although an independent body of work, one can detect in Mouasalat Ila Jacad El Ard similar currents of guitar-folk and jazz - with glimmers of the Iranian santour - to those featured in Ferkat al Ard's three album releases (of which only one, Oghneya, was released on vinyl).
Issam returned to Lebanon in 1977, and due to his economic situation and the lack of labels running in times of war, he began dubbing tapes of Mouasalat Ila Jacad El Ard, circulating copies among friends and selling them at corner shops. Although Issam managed to sell his tapes through a record shop (on a commission basis), the owner was not a fan of his work and tucked them away behind other, preferred releases. Eventually, one of these tapes ended up in the hands of the fabled Ziad Rahbani - son of Fairuz and Assi Rahbani and Lebanese musical powerhouse in his own right. An enthusiast of Issam's work, Ziad collaborated extensively with Farkat Al Ard and got Issam to feature in some of his studio recordings. Given that fewer than 100 copies of Mouasalat Ila Jacad Al Ard were made, Issam clung onto one, enabling its upcoming re-release by Jannis Steurtz and his imprint Habibi Funk.