Googoosh- ”Aakharin Khabar”

Caltex Records
2004 (1383)

Today, in retrospective, Googoosh’s “Q Q Bang Bang” DVD-single seems more like something of a “legal solution” for a transition from Taraneh Enterprises Inc. to Caltex Records, than a daring and trend-setting “ambitious move”!! Whatever now this sudden “exodus” might have been caused by, the transition is now completed and Googoosh’s brand new full-length, entitled “Aakharin Khabar”, is released on Clatex Records!! The artistic team behind it, however, remains the same! But this time around have Mehrdad Asemani, M. Cheshmazar and Zoya Zakarian, been accompanied by three other talented artists, namely Shahyar Ghanbari, Andy G and Babak Amini!

The album opens with a lovely mid-tempo POP-tune, flavoured with Arabo/Indo-Andalusian (gypsy) spices!! “Otaaghe Man” is a song with subtle and moderate “nationalistic” approach!! This is the kind of “intelligent” and “comparative” patriotism that I personally believe in!! without the “double-edged ignorance/arrogance” of “chauvinism”!! the theme is however recognisable from Ghanbari’s previous works, but here with a less “surrealistic” aura!!

The acoustic-guitar unveils the Retro-Romantic BALLAD of “Chelle Neshin”!! a beautiful song with CONTINENTAL string-arrangement and a M. Eastern/Mediterranean “ambience”!! a subtle reference to the sound of the 70s actually!!

“Aakharin Khabar”, the title song begins with some PROGRESSIVE (Mediterranean/Armenian) ARABESQUE-influences and develops to a duet between Googoosh and Mehrdad, whose vocal-performance matches Googoosh’s, manoeuvre by manoeuvre! This “might” actually be the very first ORIGINAL on-album duet by Googoosh (to my knowledge)!! Whether it is or not, the initiation is very appreciated!!

Next comes “Aahouye Eshgh”, an Afghan-inspired POP-tune!! It is more than obvious that this song is trying to tap on the tradition of …”Man Aamadeam, …”!! even the video-clip with the sitting and rocking DIVA, indicates that!! Despite the lovely and “courageous” attempt, however, the predecessor remains “invincible”!!

“Mardome Shahr, Bedaanid va aagah baashid, …”!! the royal Herald’s announcement is shortly followed by the fanfare, which leads the Queen of POP through the admiring and adherent audience, in order to reclaim the throne, …once and for all!! “Eyde Aashegh” is a lovely and up-beat PROGRESSIVE NEW-AGE/NRG- track, that sets the foundation for a rather “futuristic” and “surrealistic” NOROOZ-celebration!!

I am guessing that “Pire Mashregh” is the oldest track of this ensemble!! A song that marks the transition from Babak Amini to Mehrdad Asemani, as the official composer!! This particular Retro-Romantic BALLAD is the main song that manages to recapture the “soul” of the Diva’s older HITS!! Although I personally found Amini’s compositions for the previous album as a bit “over-the-top”, this song is simply SPELLBINDING!! The unexpected and INNOVATIVE touch of the “Taar” is just breath-taking in this particular setting!!

Now to my absolute favourite song from the album, “Baa Ham” is a PERFECT example of HOW the Retro-Romantic style can be masterfully upgraded!! Much credits to Andy G, whose contributions to this album stand out amazingly!! The DRUM-N-BASS influences, and the Franco-Romantic melody-line deliver a strong GOOSEBUMPS-factor!! An absolutely GORGEOUS and ENERGISING track to devour!!

Last, but not least, comes “Del Kook” a song positively preceded by its GORGEOUS video clip (credits to the talented VAHIK, whom I personally regard as the most innovating music-video director since A. R. Amirghasemi)!! This is an OLD-SCHOOL and Retro-Romantic mid-tempo BALLAD, with beautiful full-scale arrangements!! A lovely way to seal the album through!!

F. Atashin always refer to Googoosh as a third person, declaring her merely as an “alter ego”! I could only imagine how exiting, BUT also stressful it must be to embody such a cherished ICON!! An ICON that hasn’t been destroyed, even during Atashin’s 20 years “leave of absence“!! So, IS “Aakharin Khabar” really the ULTIMATE comeback of the living legend?!! In my opinion, … both YES and NO!! in a sense it IS an official milestone in the post-EXODUS chapter of Googoosh’s career! The compositions, lyrics and arrangements are nearly FLAWLESS!! But only “artistically” and “technically”!! Because unlike the pre-revolutionary “anthems” from this artist, which “amazingly” combined a perfectly-balanced “artistic ambition” together with a spell-binding “popular charm” (engaging both the so called “intellectual” AND the “common man”), these creations, how artistically beautiful they now might be, lack their predecessors’ “charm of simplicity”!! “most” of the songs do not possess “hooks” that “catch” one’s mind and attention immediately!! It is rather the listener who has to give the record a couple of spins, before she/he is able to get a hint of the essences!! And the main anti-CLIMAX factor is detected in the compositions of the album, which are basically “experimental” fusions of (only) a fragment of the good-old-Googoosh-sound and Mehrdad’s own “alternative” and rather “psychedelic” POP-flavour!! Don’t get me wrong, Mehrdad is a very talented and BRAVE artist, who has dared to take on this almost-impossible challenge! but his efforts, how admirable they now are, are just not enough in this lovely lady’s case!! In fact, there are not many names that have the ability to pull off such a task!! One man who “could” have done it, Abdi Yamini, allegedly left US for Iran years ago, but the second name is actually Shahyar Ghanbari himself, whose CONTINENTAL/Franco-Romantic sense for melodies is not that far from the late Varojan’s!! and not to forget, Babak Amini, whose pieces are literary “under-represented” in this album (while they were over-represented in the previous album)!! So, the “essences” are still there, but they are NO LONGER carried and delivered by “smooth“ and “transcendental” melodies!! This time around, there are “barriers” to break, and older and HERCULIAN siblings to compete with!! Whether, or how good this ensemble manages to do that, remains to be seen!!

So “Aakharin Khabar” is, in my humble opinion, NOT really the come-back that “the Queen of catchy-choruses” deserved!! An artist whose songs were once, and still are hummed by both “critics” and “school-kids”!! there is not much extraordinary or TIMELESS about this release (as it is expected from a Googoosh-production), it is a well-produced but -at the same time- rather “standard” LA-production!! While the “Q Q Bang Bang” DVD-single was (despite of its rather HIGH price) an UNIQUE, INNOVATIVE and definitely price-worthy “collector’s item”!! Googoosh’s new album is still artistically and technically convincing, but in a closer comparison with other creations in her RICH “discography”, hardly impressive!! Googoosh has certainly what it takes to take her career to “another level“, in terms of budget and talent that is …an INTERNATIONAL LEVEL, as a matter of fact!! she only has to once again go back to what she does best!! to go INDIPENDENT and thereby “set trends”, instead of “following trends”!! the LA-trends in particular!! and to watch out for the masked “pitfalls” of the Iranian industry’s “standardization policy“, of which “alarming”-signs are detected on this release!! Signs that MIGHT in the future, if not destroy, then definitely “demystify” the once so “larger-than-life” ICON and also cut loose the younger group of her fans!!

In closing I’d like to seize the opportunity and answer two of the frequently asked questions that I receive regarding this artist:

1- “With all the different Googoosh-compilations out there, which series is the best for my collection?” Well, I personally recommend the “Golden Signature”-series from MZM! Featuring the BEST versions of the old HITS! The audio-quality of some songs is so high that you just can’t accept that they are over decades old!! These compilations might be a bit hard to find nowadays, but they are still available at eworldrecords.com!! Get them now, if you haven’t already!!

2- “Was Googoosh’s “Talaagh” really the official theme song for the 2000-Swedish edition of the reality-TV-show BIG BROTHER?” Well both YES and NO!! since “Talagh” in fact is NOT an entirely “original” song!! Its guitar-riffs, bass-line and drum-loop are literary “copied” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s successful musical/Rock-OPERA from the 70s, “Jesus Christ Superstar” (later even recycled in Dariush‘s “Saale 2000“ and Shohreh‘s “Dehaati“, by Cheshmazar)!! This song was sampled in the Swedish RAP/METAL-band INFINITE MASS’ HIT-song “Enter the Dragon”! and THAT particular song became the official theme for the Swedish BIG BROTHER!! Hence the striking resemblances!!

 

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!