EMI Music Arabia, 2000
07243 528264 21
Amr Diab grew up in Port Said, Egypt and studied at the music faculty of the Cairo Academy of Art. Since the release of his first album, Ya Tareeq, he's quickly ascended to massive superstar status in the Al-jil leagues and apparently enjoys top billing at international music festivals as well as dominating the burgeoning cassette markets of Cairo.

Following popularized US precedents, Diab's also crossed over into film, playing opposite Omar Sharif in "Dhahk We La'ab" that opened the 1993 Egyptian Film Festival, gaining notoriety for lavish music video productions and winning three awards at the 1997 Annual Arabic Festival for best video, best song and best artist of the year.

Even for those of us less tuned into the Arabian Pop scene who must rely on label-issued compilations instead to learn about the contemporary Arab top performers, the name Amr Diab keeps cropping up. You'll find him anywhere from The Best Arabian Love Album to From Maghreb to Mashreq or Buddha Bar IV, and always keenly associated with the top drawer tunes of such efforts

One listen to Tamally Maak explains this -- well-deserved -- popularity yet further. While unapologetically lighthearted Westernized Pop with mild Middle-Eastern bubblegum flavors, Amr Diab's voice recalls George Michael without the self-conscious romantic crooner excess. His compositions sport memorable melodies wrapped into fully developed sophisticated tunes and find a becoming balance between beat-driven club house grooves and more traditional percussion accompaniment.

At its very best, tunes like the romantic title track, the rebellious dance floor "Kalby Ekhtarak" and the musical Baklava "Baateref" are certifiable Top 10 material. They'd dominate charts anywhere in the world. Combine their easy yet sophisticated appeal with a truly leading-man voice that effortlessly reaches the heights, add a very sunny artistic disposition that transcends language barriers (quite possibly saving us from the ubiquitous shallowness and shortsighted predictability of Pop lyrics) and the results are shameless guilty pleasures.

Revel in the uselessness of pretensions when it comes to this type of "are you serious" fare. Instead, spinTamally Maak and soak in its youthful contagious exuberance. Better yet, issue party invites or listen to it during strenous workouts. In either case, you'll be glad you did - party, workout and listen, and not necessarily in this sequence.