The story goes (and I apologise if I get some details wrong) that Jaz Coleman's (from Killing Joke) frequent trips to Cairo gave him a love for the rich music of Egypt and its chaotic and exciting culture. However, many Egyptian recordings are of mediocre quality and the songs too long and cyclic for Western ears. By chance he was introduced to Anne Dudley (then with Art of Noise & a well known producer) at a party, they got talking and a project to blend the best of East & West was born.
Setting off to Cairo armed with a DAT recorder, Jaz spend weeks recording the sounds of the street and market place, recruiting local musicians and unearthing a dusty 24 track studio in a Cairo basement. He then went into the refurbished studio with the local musicians he had found who recorded many of the tracks in one take and with no rehearsal. The tapes were then brought back to England, mixed with the DAT recordings (to add atmosphere) in a top studio, produced & arranged by Anne Dudley and released to almost total lack of interest in the UK. It was a different story in Egypt however, where Songs from the Victorious City shot to the top of the Egyptian charts & stayed there for months.
You really need to hear it to appreciate it, but Songs... really is a work of total & utter brilliance & quite unique in bringing the sound quality and production skills of the West to bear whilst enhancing (rather than suppressing) the natural joy & skill of the Egyptian musicians. It really does make you want to rush out & board a plane for Cairo & I cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone who appreciates skilfully made, excellently recorded and timeless music.