Andy - “Airport”
CMG Records/Avang Music Co.
I know how much you've been waiting for this review, never had so many requests for an album in these five years of reviewing! So without further ado lets cut to the chase, shall we?! Alright then, Andy is back with a new album! This time a bit earlier than expected and without ANY kind of marketing preceding the release! Almost seeming like a rushed job to beat some kind of deadline! Anyhow, the album entitled "Airport" features 16 tracks and is released on Andy and Shani's home label Cherokee Music Group Records and Avang. "Airport" presents works by Andy himself, along with Paksima, Mohamad Moghadam, Kamran Delan, Nami, Farshid Sabouri, Khaled, Hakim, Arbi Kalosian, Maryam Asadi, Massoud Fardmanesh, Jaklin and Azat Hakobian. And for the first time Farokh Ahi has not had a creative finger involved in the production of an Andy album! Instead the job has gone to Mohamad Moghadam, who did a great job in the "Khalvate Man" album.
The intro of the opening song "Yek Negaah" is misleading! Just when you thought that Andy is for the first time breaking tradition and kicking off an album with a GITANO ballad it makes a U-turn and restarts familiarly! In the past albums the openers have all fallen in the formulaic "Che Khosgel Shodi Emshab" trap, but this one manages to escape it by keeping it to the minimum and instead add new spice and flavour! Well done!! It first time in years that an Andy opener has a solid replay value even when its not on a dance-floor!
"Bad Az To" reminds of Moghadam's similar songs on "Khalavte Man". The same effort has not been done to revitalise this particular formula and it sounds rather predictable, however well-produced and saved by the verses!
The title-track "Foroodgah" is the first of few completely new styles presented on this album! Its the most experimental and uncertain song on the album in terms of commercial appeal. Moghadam blends eclectically and freely in this track, a bit from LATIN to EAST EUROPEAN musicality and a touch of ROCK with a pinch of POP! And I must say that the result is daring and refreshing with a nice performance by Shani. In 1991-92 when Andy and Kouros had separated and were about to put together their own bands, Prince and his band "the New Power Generation" who were rather big at the time came to be reflected in each of these solo artists' constellations! While Kouros put together his "My Generation" band which featured the back-then-unknown Sharareh as the only female member, Andy came to include Shani and Mica as his identically dressed "Diamond and Pearl" and Ara Hairapetian as his Tommy Barbarella. Mica left rather early but Shani who had prior to Andy's band been seen as a voluptuous blond in Shahram Shabpareh's music video stayed, learned Persian (i have a video where Andy teaches her and Mica Persian phonetically on a train in Sweden back in 1993), pursued her own singing career and became Andy's partner in art, love and life eventually! And that was a little flashback for you! By the way, I've never found Michael's Andy imitation spot on, this song however makes me reconsider! hehe!
To the first ballad of the album which unconventionally is placed rather early in the track listing! It has been said that this album will carry ballads in the same calibre as those on the "Beegharaar" album. And indeed is "Deltang" a nostalgic song which brings back the good old days with its POWER BALLAD feeling, guitar solo and back-up vocals towards the end. However there is also a strong difference between this ballad and the ones featured on his solo debut, and that lies within the state of the artist's heart! "Beegharaar" was officially (according to many interviews) Andy's way of processing a lost love! It was in the aftermath of his separation which Paksima helped to embody his emotions with her beautiful words. The B side of the "Beegharaar" tape was a new side to Andy that fans hadn't really seen before, it also put Paksima on the pedestal as the most wanted lyricist of the time. So, the difference is the absence of "pain" in his voice, the pain that charged the ballads and gave them certificate of authenticity! Its no longer there, haven't been there for a long long time actually! And as relieving a new found love and happiness can be for the man's body and soul, it is ironically the pain and agony of losing that love which feeds the artist's creativity and ability in the long run! Having said that it should also be added that the song has copied its first minute from a song by the Iran based duo Hamid Reza and Ali Reza's song "Az To Minevisam" released last year! Without any credit unfortunately, which makes it very unusual and extra sad!! Because if not on an Andy album then where does one normally trust that things are carefully credited for!
"Bi To" is a song of a style dear to my heart! Namely HI-NRG with a distinct touch of FRENCH DISCO/POP! 4/4 and HI-NRG are not new to Andy, FRENCH DISCO however is and it adds further to the variety on this album. Love it!
Long ago Andy managed to choose and deliver 6/8 songs that were of dual value! It means the they were both dance- and listen-friendly! something which more or less ended after "...and my Heart" and the overrepresentation of repetitive and super-commercial 6/8 songs on the Andy-albums. With the POWER POP "Raaz" however the magic of the OLD-SCHOOL sound returns, an amazing track that invites you to both listening and dancing! I love the elements and manoeuvres in this song. My most favourite track on the album, and let me tell you its not every day that a 6/8 song manages to affect me like this! As I've said before Andy's list of collaborators often offers unknown but precious gems and in this album its Farshid Sabouri who takes home the prize and joins names like Kamran Delan, Ali Sanifar, Tohid Azimi and Hamid Nadiri on the wall of fame!
A few years back Andy had a joint concert in California with Khaled and Hakim, if my memory serves me right (checking the poster confirms it). And today the song "Salam" which basically is a modified version of Hakim's own HIT "Salam Mualikum"! The song is a bit old in arrangement style and reminds more of Farshad "Shad" Rabbani's attempts to WORLD MUSIC in the 90's! Its not as PROGRESSIVE as it wants to appear, however the psychedelic mixing saves it from being completely obsolete.
"Zamoone" is another one of those OLD-SCHOOL unconventional 6/8 tracks of Andy's made for both the iPod and the DANCEFLOOR! "Na na na na na, I'm lovin' it!" Needless to say future collaborations with Farshid Sabouri is a MUST for Andy!
Kamran Delan's songs are often piece de resistance on Andy's albums and "Bihoode Naboode" is no exception! A classic and MAJESTIC ballad with a lifting chorus and touch of BLUES. Nami's involvement in its creation indicates that this is not one of Delan's latest songs, considering the fact that these two artists no longer work together! Simply amazing! I would love to see Andy and Delan in an elaborate collaboration for a complete album, signed with a beautiful duet.
Another new flavour in this collection is "Chand Rooze". An old-school REGGEATON fare with the ELECTRO-touch! I'm really surprised but this actually works!! If handled correctly in presentation and with a professional video by a director with a sense and experience in the genre (and I don't mean KOJI!!!) shot somewhere in the Caribbean I'm sure that this song has enough potentiality to appeal internationally. However based on what's been delivered so far I doubt anything remotely close will be presented!
"Aroose Gol" is a song simply made for the KHALTOOR market! Its a song to be added to the list of special occasion songs in Andy's career. Well-produced with the BANDARI spices to enhance it commercially! I am since a decade back allergic to this particular commercial formula, so based on how I am feeling while listening to this track proves indirectly that it serves its purpose!! I am the ultimate quality control for such songs!!lol
One of my favourite songs on "...Va Ghalbe Man" was the beautiful ballad "To Nabaashi". The song is now presented in a REMIX by a new name, namely Arbi Kalosian. I love what has been done with the song, the paced up version sounds just as natural as the ballad!
The same goes for the REMIX of this album's "Bihoode Naboode". Its perfectly done! Makes Arbi a very promising artist to anticipate work from in the future!
My favourite Andy and Kouros song from "Balla" was "Leila". Its Electro-ROCK style combined with a FOLK wibe was progressive and groundbreaking when it came out in 1990! Its new version REMIXED by Nami however is something of a disappointment! Usually I adore Nami's work and his sense for musical modernisation, but in this case much of the original's beauty has been washed out and replaced with a minimalistic and unbecoming outfit that doesn't really carry the song! The REMIX is simply too sterile for a song of "Leila"'s nature!
You shouldn't confuse the song "Yaaraan" with the namesake Paksima project featuring Andy! "Yaaraan" is rather a song for the soundtrack of a film by the name of "Football". Knowing Andy's love for the sport this choice seems more than natural! It features the rock band HEAVEN AND EARTH who also appeared on previous album and reminds stylistically of Andy's previous experimental songs like "Chi Begam" with its fusion of Eastern music and mystique with Western ROCK music. A good way of ending an album for those who aren't on the dance-floor already but up for some more serious and attention-demanding material!
And last bust not least the album presents its share of Armenian music, according to the tradition. The song "Almast" is presented as a remade FOLK song and only our Armenian friends can tell what's old and new in this latest edition! Musically however its the same old formula used in most of Andy's Armenian POP songs.
"Airport" is a brand new TAKE OFF in Andy's career! The album is not exactly a WOW experience like his earlier solo albums like "Beegharaar" and "Tanhaee" were but its still a GREAT bounce-back especially in the aftermath of the "City of Angels (CoA)" disappointment! Its light years superior to CoA and in some ways even to PLATINUM in its diversity! The range of songs and the variety of styles are seen to in an excellent way, and the production is thoroughly thought-through. This is an album with a high REPLAY VALUE! After the review on CoA it seems like everyone is expecting me to automatically rate and reject this album as a FLOP! Well, I'm sorry to disappoint them, cause as tempting and fun as it is to live up to this former-fan-turned-into-villain role for the readers' indulgence I gotta stay true to the principles of reviewing! Believe me when I say that no one gets happier than myself when an Andy album gets high ratings, however no matter of the status of the artist the opus in question has to deserve the acclaim in order to motivate such. And this time it does! More than well, as a matter of fact! Andy has shaped up, stepped up to the plate and come through with flying colours! He has proved that it still is the artist that makes the superstar! This time around he has not split the tracks into two different discs in order to charge for a double album like in CoA's case even though this album features two songs more than the predecessor. A very wise decision, and a winning long term strategy! The songs still got Andy written all over them, but the generic features are kept to a minimum instead of a maximum like CoA. The element of surprise is ensured! Each song gives you old treats but with new tricks! Exactly as they should. The majority grab your attention, make you stop and actually "listen" to them, instead of tuning them right out. Even the DANCE fares got a dual value! Normally I'm more for the 4/4 songs and ballads of Andy, but in this album some of the 6/8 songs get once again so good that they even surpass my preference!
But unfortunately although musically boosted and buffed Airport still leaves much room for improvement aesthetically! It doesn't fully realise its potential by having its aesthetic presentation spoiled, with low quality irrelevant design and repetitive videos. The title of the album itself offers a great concept for a photoshoot at an airport somewhere, maybe LAX! And a clever creative design which would have never gone lost a decade ago in the hands of Amirghassemi and the greatest cover designer that our music industry has witnessed, namely Behzad! If anything the "Gole Bandar" video proved us that Andy has some talented fans out there, and there are a lot more of these talented fans who sit at home with clever ideas and if I was Andy I would ask these young artists for opinion and suggestions for cover art and video concepts. Maybe make a title and some images available on the website and also a competition where fans could use these images to create and submit a concept for the forthcoming album cover?! Its a healthy artist-fan relation and exchange of feedback and inspiration which can easily be practised in these days of instant and immediate communication technology! And its doesn't cost much either, since it has become the established artists of the industry's mantra that investing in expensive videos doesn't pay off! While newcomers believe in the importance of employing the best available for a push in their career!
An album is often affected commercially by the success or failure of its predecessor. As the lingering success of PLATINUM affected the sale of CoA initially, the lingering failure of CoA will also affect the sale of "Airport" initially! But only initially! Initially many fans disagreed with my opinion on CoA but came to change mind eventually and based on the negative reactions I see in forums online most fans would most likely disagree with my verdict on "Airport" as well but I'm sure that in time it will grow on them and they will appreciate the songs as they settle individually. Because with the first try and as a collection "Airport" comes across as recycled and old-news, something which isn't exactly prevented by the rushed and immature release of the album and its bundle of generic videos! Nevertheless "Airport" has hidden potentials in its songs that although not realised in marketing will prove themselves in time. When each song pops up "alone" on mixed CDs and parties! Sampson's strength lied in the length of his hair and seeing the once-again-long-haired Andy back again with new CURLS and BOOST one cant help but to make a biblical comparison! ..."Andy", the "artist" is BACK!! It's been a while since I got such energy and vibe from an Andy album that it almost calls for a celebration and revival of the ancient rites (referring to the blog)! hehe! I feel like having a nice juicy calzone, ...but this time a freshly baked one hot from the oven!lol
Note: Special Thanks to Amir and Mansour J.!
Overall Performance: +++
Artistic Ambition: +++
Commercial Potential: +++
Technical Quality: ++
Aesthetic Presentation: -
Ethical Adherence: +
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Review by: Pourya E.
Reviews described herein are mere opinions, and must be construed in that manner only! In other words they are not absolute!