My new Arabic name is Abdullah Basheem!
“Another album of acoustic guitar music from Sir Richard Bishop– are you ‘freakin’ nuts? The Freak Of Araby is a new direction for our distinguished gentleman, and just in the nick of time as well. Sir Rick’s had it up to here with solo acoustic guitar records! The Freak Of Araby isn’t even a solo record! And there’s no acoustic guitar on it! So let’s have no more of this kind of talk. Over his years with Sun City Girls, Richard Bishop threw a wide variety of music and sound against the wall — and all of it stuck. Among those who know, he’s reasonably fluent in any number of international music traditions, playing them for (mostly) fun and (sometimes) profit all over the place. The Freak Of Araby is the debut of Sir Richard Bishop and his Freak of Araby Ensemble, a talented quartet of players getting deep into the Middle Eastern mystic with hand drums, percussion, bass, drums, electric guitars and a heavy dose of Moroccan chanters, all of it captured with depth, detail and sympathy for the eternal enigma by engineer Scott Colburn. But a Sir Richard Bishop album with a backing band — how did this happen? After recording a cover of ‘Ka’an Azzaman,’ written by Elias Rahbani, one of Lebanon’s finest songwriters, something dawned on Sir Richard. Half-Lebanese by birth (it didn’t just occur to him later), he found himself suddenly possessed to really dig into Middle Eastern sounds. A pair of original melodies not fully developed at a prior recording session had the Arabic inspiration, so these were reattacked and finished in short order. Soon, Sir Richard’s head was flooded with some of the classic sounds spun for him by his grandfather back in his (way) younger days, like Farid Al-Atrache, Oum Kalthoum and Fairuz, along with other personal favorites, such as the guitarists Omar Khorshid and Mike Hegazi. In addition to the studio improvisation, ‘Taqasim For Omar,’ the whole of The Freak Of Araby is dedicated to these inspiring players. Check ’em out. In addition to his soul-stirring electric guitar playing, Sir Richard grabbed a couple of Moroccan chanters and blew the house down on ‘Blood-Stained Sands,’ providing an epic (not to mention epochal, heh heh) finish to this journey to the center of one-half of the family tree. This is music meant to be played live, and Sir Richard’s Freak Of Araby Ensemble intends to play it everywhere there’s interest in hearing it. So get your Freak on.”