Shock the Casbah

Jody Rosen in the New York Times:

13rosen_1The Algerian singer-songwriter Rachid Taha, 46, likes to tell the story about the night he met the Clash. In 1981, when he was the leader of Carte de Séjour (“Residence Permit”), a pioneering band from Lyon, France, that combined Algerian rai with funk and punk rock, the Clash played a concert at the Théâtre Mogador in Paris. Mr. Taha, a huge fan, bumped into the band on the street outside the theater and handed them a copy of his group’s demo. He never heard back, but a year later the Clash released “Rock the Casbah,” a raucous sendup of Middle Eastern politics with a suspiciously Carte de Séjour-like sound: slashing electric guitar, a dance beat and a lead vocal by Joe Strummer filled with undulating Orientalisms. To this day, Mr. Taha says he believes that his recordings inspired the song. “How else could they have come up with it?” he asks with a grin.

More here.