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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Anadolu Rock

Some of you may probably remember the excellent Turkish Delight compilation that was posted a while ago over at Lellebelle's blog. And if you, like me, developed some addiction to this kind of stuff, then you will be delighted to notice there are several online sources for it.

The late 60's to mid 70's were a particularly fertile time for Turkish rock and pop music, thanks to all the records of British and American bands arriving at the Marmara sea and leaving an imprint on the post-war generation that was just as unrestful and hungry here as elsewhere. (And let's not forget the thousands of Hippie trailers who crossed Istanbul on their way further east.)

Several bands and solo musicians emerged and started to play their own brand of rock and psychedelic music, soon dubbed Anadolu Rock (Anatolian Rock): A somewhat curious moniker since Anatolia is the rural hinterland of Turkey, and most of the bands came from the coastal cities such as Istanbul or Izmir, but the name was meant to symbolize the specificity and Turkishness of what the musicians wanted to do, borrowing heavily from local folklore and poetic traditions.

Arguably, the most popular representative of the Anadolu wave must be Erkin Koray, already mentioned here as well (the mp3s linked there have unfortunately been deleted) and often called the Turkish Jimi Hendrix. Koray gained some notoriety in Western Europe some years back when a German (or Swedish?) label called Nexus issued a Bootleg compilation called Electric Türk which also arrived on the desk of John Peel, Esq. and a couple of tracks got played in his show. (If anybody has that album, please drop me a note.)
There's a website dedicated to him over here, with pictures of albums sleeves and a couple of links to streams and mp3 files as well. Unfortunately, the navigation is somewhat clumsy (you have to scroll down the page, find the link to page #2 and on that one scroll again below the photos), and some of the links are only brief excerpts. But listen to the mighty Türkü, an impressive prog-rock monster with some truly bizarre spoken vocals. There are also two Rapidshare links (here and here) to a legendary live appearance where he earned himself the Hendrix moniker.

The same website has brief introductions and notes on a couple of other Turkish musicians and Turkish progressive in general. For more music, check out this site, which has a couple of sound clips, e.g. by the excellent Barış Manço and the notorious Grup Bunalım, often billed as the most freaked-out and wayward of the Anadolu bands.

And finally, a personal favourite of mine is Grup Çıgrışım's quirky Salak single, a funky little stomper with some mean guitar playing to boot. Çıgrışım also released a single called Punk Rock in 1978 which I haven't heard but according to some sources does indeed sound a bit a Bosporus take on the Clash. (Again, if anybody has this, mail me.)

The Anadolu scene disintegrated somewhat during the 80's, also due to the political circumstances, the rise of the military dictatorship, the cultural backlash and subsequent banning of some of the musicians involved. This probably explains why some of the stuff is still hard to get (and I am writing this from a town with a sizeable Turkish population and several Turkish record shops in the neighbourhood). There's been some kind of renaissance in recent years, and the term Anadolu rock is still being used, though today it seems to designate practically every kind of Turkish music that's vaguely rock-related, from metal outfits to Alternative bands. Yet for some years - and almost unnoticed from the rest of the world - Istanbul was a true psychedelic paradise.