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Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu (2017) CD Review

The first time I heard tracks from the compilation Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu I was in a foul mood – probably having to do with something Donald Trump did or said – and I wasn’t sure anything could shake it. I was going through a ridiculous amount of accumulated email to keep my brain occupied, and came across a link to one of the tracks, and immediately it was like the universe had given me a gift, taken me straight out of my funk and deposited me into another land, a land of a better sort of funk, the kind you want to get in. I had never heard any of this music, in fact, had never heard of any of these artists before. So for me, it was like suddenly striking a new and rich vein. I couldn’t get enough, and the rest of the night I listened to as much of this music as I could find online. And there is a lot of it. The Uzelli label – created by brothers Muammer and Yavuz Uzelli – released more than a thousand albums in the 1970s and 1980s. The label was based in Germany and catered to Turkish citizens living abroad. This compilation contains Anadolu music (a genre of psychedelic music) recorded between 1975 and 1984, originally released on various cassettes.

Now, I don’t speak the language, so I have absolutely no idea what these folks are singing about (apart from the clues offered by the titles). It could be mundane, it could be sublime, it could be anything. I don’t know. And that, in fact, might have been part of its appeal that first night. A translation of the lyrics is not included with the release. But it sort of doesn’t matter. I am thankful, however, that the producers of this compilation included some information on the artists in the liner notes. And I am excited to hear future releases (for certainly there will be more).

The first two tracks are by a group called Zor Beyler, who apparently put out only one album. The first, “Intro,” is a funky bit of pop fun, like a theme to a dance show. A Turkish Solid Gold? The vocals are delivered in a spoken word manner, sounding like an announcement. Perhaps he’s urging us to get on the dance floor. No problem! The other Zor Beyler track is titled “Gözündeki Yaşlarina” (which is translated in the liner notes as “The Tears In Your Eyes”), and it is an interesting blend of folk elements with 1980s pop sounds. Those tracks are followed by an interesting tune by Erkin Koray titled “Oksürük,” featuring some nice work on guitar over a funky groove, the lyrics delivered as spoken word punctuated by a sort of faux coughing or clearing of the throat. It becomes a good, steady jam.

Kerem Güney delivers a late 1970s gem titled “Sicak Bir Sevda” (translated as “A Hot Passion”), mixing folk and psychedelic rock elements. There is authority and experience in the lead vocals, and though I have no idea what he is saying, I trust him. I also love the backing vocals on this track. This is one of my personal favorites. Things then get funkier with Aşik Emrah’s “Bu Ellerden Göçüp.” I dig that bass. For some reason, this is the one track about which the liner notes provide no information. It is another of the disc’s highlights, turning into a great psychedelic jam, its vocals sounding almost like a prayer. This is a song I love more and more, and am disappointed when it ends.

That’s followed by “Yar Senin Için” (translated as “For You, Beloved”), with Elvan Sevil’s glorious vocals rising above the music, above the world, lifting us into far into the sky with her. The music has a folk-rock quality which I really like, but it’s her voice that makes this track something special, giving the song a certain beauty. According to the liner notes, Elvan Sevil released only one cassette. I hope that will be made available on CD soon.

“Seker Oglan,” from Akbaba Ikilisi, is a fun track. It begins with a simple but good groove, a disco beat to get you dancing (enjoy that hi-hat). According to the CD’s liner notes, the song is a popular folk tune. Perhaps, but here it is more of a dance song, with a nice long psychedelic jam to keep everyone moving. Yes, it is yet another of the disc’s highlights. Have I mentioned yet how much I love this music? That’s followed by another excellent track, “Deniz Ustü Köpürür” by Unol Büyükgönenç, featuring a fantastic instrumental section. This is from the same 1975 compilation cassette that gave us the Elvan Sevil song. And actually the following song, “Kaçma Güzel,” is also from that cassette. That one is a fun, bright-sounding pop song by Neşe Alkan. The compilation then concludes with Ali Ayhan’s “Bana Göre Kizlar Cok,” another fun pop tune. Actually, that song doesn’t conclude the CD, as there is a hidden track.

CD Track List
Intro – Zor Beyler
Gözündeki Yaşlarina – Zor Beyler
Oksürük – Erkin Koray
Sicak Bir Sevda – Kerem Güney
Bu Ellerden Göçüp – Aşik Emrah
Yar Senin Için – Elvan Sevil
Seker Oglan – Akbaba Ikilisi
Deniz Ustü Köpürür – Unol Büyükgönenç
Kaçma Güzel – Neşe Alkan
Bana Göre Kizlar Cok – Ali Ayhan
Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu was released on March 17, 2017 through Uzelli.