HEAR: Festive Season Fare

19 Sep

LEBARAN SITI BERSAMA TEMAN-TEMAN
Siti Nurhaliza and others
(Suria Records)

SITI Nurhaliza’s popular rendition of Hari Raya songs is now way up there – together with other Hari Raya must-have tunes including Selamat Hari Raya (Saloma) and Hai Selamat Hari Raya (Datuk Sharifah Aini), Dari Jauh Ku Pohon Maaf (Sudirman) and Suasana Hari Raya (Anuar and Elina), to name a few.

So it came as no surprise when this compilation arrived on my desk. A quick browse through the 16 songs by Siti and other female artistes under the label revealed that it had left out one hit song – the upbeat Nazam Lebaran.

If not for her other hit Hari Raya songs – Sesuci Lebaran, Anugerah Aidilfitri, Airmata Syawal, Bila Hari Raya Menjelma – I would have been so disappointed. Besides, all songs have been previously released at various stages in the singer’s career.

The group song Aidilfitri di Alaf Baru, despite having Siti’s faultless vocals, still fails to impress me, especially when it gets to the line “lebaran dengan keazaman, melangkah menuju wawasan” loosely translated to mean celebrating Raya with a vision. Somehow, Hari Raya and politics just don’t mix.

The guitar-driven 5 Waktu by Indonesian singer Yuni Shara is a winner, for turning contemporary pop into a spiritual tune about man’s relationship with God. The album’s VCD version is also available. – FAF

Selected tracks: Anugerah Aidilfitri, Bila Hari Raya Menjelma, Sesuci Lebaran

Rating: HHH´

KOLEKSI NASYID PUJI-PUJIAN
Various
Warner Music)

UNDOUBTEDLY, Warner Music is responsible for putting nasyid back on radio and in listeners’ hearts with the release of Raihan’s first album, Puji-Pujian, in the late 1990s, decades after popularising the ’70s nasyid group Al-Mizan.

With the release of this compilation, featuring 16 popular spiritual songs from renowned established and new groups, fans will have plenty to thank the label for.

In the album are hits by Raihan (Puji-Pujian, Syukur), Rabbani (Muhammad Ya Habibi, Doa Pujian), Hijjaz (Rasulullah), UNIC (Hanya Tuhan Yang Tahu), Nowseeheart (Damai), In-Team (Impian Kasih) as well as a duet by Jay Jay and Mirwana (Aku Tanpa Cintamu).

Al-Mizan’s popular track back in the ’70s Junjungan Mulia, is also featured here – and what a difference in sound it is! After so long, to hear such crisp quality is a whole new experience. Too bad it’s not available for ringback tone mobile downloads.

Ya Nami Salamun ‘Alaika, by Raihan, Nowseeheart, Hijjaz, Brothers and Amaluddin, is an example of great vocal group singing. It’s richly textured and layered. – FAF

Selected tracks: Syukur, Junjungan Mulia

Ratings: HHH´

KUMPULAN NASYID WANITA TERBAIK
Al-Mizan, Al-Jawaher, Hidayah
(Warner Music)

THIS digitally re-mastered collection of 24 popular nasyid tunes (in two discs) from yesteryear carry much nostalgic and spiritual beauty.

Those who grew up in the ’70s will have plenty of reasons to rejoice with the release with this compilation. Now, in digital format, you can hear all the things you didn’t pick up when the songs were released on records.

For one thing, the vocal harmonising is all over the place and the vocalists tend to be too sharp or too flat. Pitching is another area that the record producers forgot to address back then. But never mind, they still warm up my hearts in this festive season and beyond.

Female nasyid groups Al-Mizan, Al-Jawaher and Hidayah were all part of the industry’s musical landscape before the more radio-friendly and ground-breaking Pop Yeh Yeh took over the airwaves and made themselves relevant to popular culture.

With these nasyid groups, there’s nothing glamorous about their image and their voices are rather plain, but the beautiful melodies and the vocalists’ earnestness won us over. And of course the retro tunes (some of which are penned by M.Nasir himself)! – FAF

Selected tracks: Doaku, Mari Bersembahyang, Perjalanan, Junjungan Mulia… and so many more!

Rating: HHH´

New Straits Times

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