by Cheb KhaledCheb Khaled
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If Khaled and N'ssi N'ssi introduced Khaled and incorporated rai into the hip, global dancefloor mix, the gleaming production and lush arrangements on Sahra leave no doubt that French pop mainstream is the target here. It worked -- "Aïcha" was a breakthrough pan-European pop hit, and even though the disc jumps around from song to song and style to style, it still basically hangs together. The lack of flow is understandable because it's a total patchwork effort -- three tracks produced by Clive Hunte in Jamaica with reggae session heavyweights, three songs produced by Don Was in L.A. with high-priced session heavyweights, one with Marseilles rappers Iam, and the rest by Frenchmen Jean-Jacques Goldman and Philippe Eidel. The credits make it seem likely that the overseas tracks were recorded there and then shipped to Paris for final touches. Real strings add an Arabic touch to the convincing title track, while "Oran Marseille (Oran Mix)" starts with kazoo, of all things, and winds up as kind of a high-tech, tweaked roots rai with a pronounced Jamaican organ. Written by Goldman/Khaled and sung in French, "Aïcha" sports a magnetic hook carried by Khaled's vocal charisma over a nice mid-tempo trot and atmospheric keyboards. After that reasonably cohesive start, Sahra goes all over the map. The strings on "Hey Ouedi" are more light Euro-classical than Arabic pop majestic (not surprising since the players are French), while "Detni Essekra" is almost old-style Europop lounge music with tinkling piano, rich accordion, and Bernard Paganotti's acoustic bass. The synths alternating between Arab strings and galloping prog rock sounds make the chic, upscale Euro-disco set the likely target for "Le Jour Viendra." Mexican rocker Saul Hernandez sings Spanish verses on "Ki Kounti," a nondescript Saharan sirocco-meets-SoCal-Santa-Ana-desert reggae tune. The tentative "Haya Haya" shows the pitfall of attempting Khaled's style blend -- you hear the L.A. musicians haven't gotten the feel down, and the song suffers. But the flip side is just as apparent on "Mektoubi," where the Jamaicans nail down the groove, Dean Fraser lets loose with an unusually rowdy sax solo, and Khaled fits his vocals in perfectly. Sahra is slick international pop Khaled, with his Algerian roots used mostly as flavoring. He's pretty much taken his Western pop influence right to the limit of where the watered-down crossover criticisms he receives become valid. It's calculated and slick and not the place to start if you want to hear where he came from, but the music stays on the right side of overdone...just barely.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/13/1997
Label: Fontana Island
UPC: 0731453751026
catalogNumber: 537510

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Cheb Khaled   Primary Artist
Rita Marley   Background Vocals
Judy Mowatt   Background Vocals
Tony Williams   Drums
Sharon Forrester   Background Vocals
Gregg Bissonette   Drums
Lenny Castro   Percussion
Mohsein Chentouf   Percussion,Darbouka,Bendire
Mikey Chung   Guitar
Vincent Courtois   Cello
Glen DaCosta   Brass
Philippe Eidel   Bass,Bouzouki,Accordion,Keyboards,Charango
Brandon Fields   Saxophone
Dean Fraser   Saxophone
Vin Gordon   Brass
Marcia Griffiths   Background Vocals
Nicolas Krassik   Violin
Abraham Laboriel   Bass
David Madden   Brass
David McMurray   Flute,Saxophone
Jamie Muhoberac   Keyboards
Bernard Paganotti   Bass,String Bass
Slim Pezin   Guitar
Michito Sánchez   Percussion
Nadine Sutherland   Background Vocals
Abdallah Terkmani   Guitar
Lee Thornburg   Trombone,Trumpet
Valerie de Nattes   Violin
Pierre Olivier Govin   Saxophone
Randy Jacobs   Bass,Guitar
Benjamin Myers   Bass
Cat Coore   Guitar
IAM   Track Performer
Djamel Ben Yelles   Violin
Saul Hernández   Track Performer
Mustapha Kada   Accordion,Keyboards
Serge Plume   Trumpet
Bojan Zulfikarpasic   Piano
Robbie Lyrin   Keyboards
Bubbler Waul   Keyboards
Rolando Wilson   Drums
Hafid Saidi   Drums
Paco Charlery   Percussion
Frank Choukroun   Cello
Marc de Nattes   Violin
Twiggy   Background Vocals
Phil Abraham   Trombone

Technical Credits

Eric Benzi   Arranger,Programming,Engineer
Dan Bosworth   Engineer
Mikey Chung   Executive Producer
Philippe Eidel   Arranger,Producer
Lynford "Fatta" Marshall   Engineer
Jean-Jacques Goldman   Producer
Laurent Gueneau   Engineer
Clive "Azul" Hunt   Producer
Rik Pekkonen   Engineer
Don Was   Producer
Shane Brown   Engineer
Imhotep   Producer
Jacques Obadia   Engineer
Frank Redich   Engineer
Akhenaton   Arranger,Producer

Customer Reviews

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Sahra 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love the songs on this album. Beautiful blend of the east and the west!! Wonderful Songs.
Guest More than 1 year ago
the best of the best now he's one of my favorite artists
Guest More than 1 year ago
The singer has very strong and expressive voice that lives the words. The music is wonderful and not shallow as those we hear regulary in hardrock. So, When you listen you need to pay close attention to the music.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just want to say to khaled:congratulations with this CD and I hope you make the world swing with a next one