Pomegranates collects 16 tracks of the pop, rock and funk variety from Iran in the decade or so leading up to the Islamic revolution of 1979. It seems that many of these tracks have been transferred from vinyl - rescued from the revolution by those who managed to escape into exile. Each crackle, hiss or pop tells it's own story of survival, exile and memory.
Both Zia & Mohammed Nouri took James Brown's funky styling and fused them with the rhythms of a musical style known as Bandari that came from Southern Iran. Sitar player Merhrpouya was influenced by everything from the chachacha to chamber music, and for Soul Raga he found inspiration in Bach's Toccata, the James Brown horn section, and Herbie Mann's flute playing - all underpinned by a percolating, druggy tabla beat. Of the female singers gathered here, Googoosh was the most revered. Her influence on Iranian women at the time was likened to Twiggy's influence on the West. 2 of the 3 tracks included here are poppy ballads, but Talagh is a decent slab of funk. Googoosh's arch rival (they were in fact friends even though the media had them pitted against each other) Ramesh was a similar trendsetter - paisley skirts, head bands and later the classic biker garb of shorts, tights, leather boots and short curly hair. Sharm-e Boos-e owes something to Shocking Blue's Send Me A Postcard, which in turn owed more than something to Iron Butterfly's In-A- Gadda- Da-Vida. Flamenco music played a significant role in the development of Iranian music, and depending who you read, either derives from an Iranian musician who settled in Andalusia or found its way into Iran through the migration of gypsies. Dariush's gorgeous Cheshm-e Man is a prime example of both the style of playing and singing that lies at the heart of Flamenco.
After 1979, music in Iran was effectively silenced and subject to strict Islamic laws - women were, and still are, banned from singing solo in public and just last month a concert was cancelled because 2 members of the orchestra were women.
As usual with Finders Keepers, the sleeve notes are exemplary and written by the compiler, Massha Taghinia, the american born child of Iranian parents.