Back in the good old days, Egypt's infamous pop singer Samir El Eskandarany released an album in the eighties that reportedly was an all time hit. What made the album unique was that it transformed some of Egypt oldies into the modern pop era. I could go on and talk about how that album was so influential in transforming the arab music industry but I will leave that topic for a later discussion.
The album included several songs such as Ya Salat El Zien, Yarab Balady, Doosa, and the tile song Meen Elly Al (Who Said). But, the song that people widely recognize as Samir's most popular was "Take Me Back To Cairo". It included a perfect blend of modern pop and classical Egyptian music. It also was a bilingual song with mixed Arabic and English lyrics. It turns out that if I had lived 20 years earlier, I would have known that this hit was originally composed and performed by another Egyptian singer named Karim Shukry.
I stumbled upon this video posted and directed by Mr. Shukry's son. The video is a new montage of the original song as performed by Karim Shukry and I have to admit that my heart skipped several beats listening to and watching the video. While Samir El-Eskandarany version was the one most of the people in my generation relate to, I was totally moved by Karim Shukry's version. The question that immediately came to my mind after watching the video was how come we never heard much about Karim Shukry and why wasn't his version of "Take Me Back To Cairo" widely known in Egypt ?
After some digging, it turns out that Karim Shukry was a popular singer in Egypt in the early 60s. He tried to distinguish himself from the Egyptian singers of the day by performing in English aiming to achieve an international status. I would imagine trying to capture a spotlight in an era with such heavy weights as Abdel Halim Hafez, Umm Koulthoum and Fardi Al Atrish would have been tough. Karim's real name is Jean Zaloum, a film producer now living in Canada. I suspect that Mr. Shukry's departure from Egypt had some political entanglements as well due to the political atmosphere at that time, but never the less it is clear that he is one of Egypt's talented entertainers. I wish I experienced his time. You can learn more about Jean Zaloum here.
Enjoy the video. Here is a also a link to the song in mp3.