Sidi Mansour album cover
Sidi Mansour

Cheikha Rimitti

Absolute Records

This couldn’t be more of a departure for Cheikha Rimitti, the OG of Raï, who began singing accompanied only by percussion and flutes. This 1994 record can be grating at times — a tad overproduced, noisy guitars right at the start — but Remitti’s unmistakable voice rises above it all: deep, raw, self-assured. Besides, the lineup here is pretty interesting: Flea on bass, East Bay Ray on rhythm guitar, Zappa’s associates Bruce and Walter Fowler on horns, and Robert Fripp on lead guitar. With that cast you’d think there would be little of Algeria left on the record, but Algerian producer Houari Talbi supplies some North African rhythms and lush keys. Remitti released this when she was in her 70s, which is a testament to her willingness to push boundaries and experiment.

Megan Iacobini de Fazio

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