Before the Revolution

09/01/18Listen To A Mix Of Pre-Revolution Music From Iran

In line with the recent protests in Iran, French daily La Libération published an article earlier this month detailing the continued censorship of music recorded before the revolution of 1979, during the reign of the Shah. Such is the music by the likes of Gougoush, Ramesh, Zia, Shahram, Shabpareh or Mohammad Nouri that to this day, along with the usual pop music suspects from the Western hemisphere, remains forbidden.

Ever since the revolution, all cultural production in Iran is under the strict auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance to preserve so-called 'public chastity'. It's the ministry that decides if an artist may record his or her music, perform on stage or otherwise diffuse their work. In a 1979 interview with Ayatollah Khomeini, the country's former supreme leader claimed that music from the West "with its implications of pleasure and ecstasy, dulls the spirit" and that pop music "is similar to a drug".

However, during the past years DJs and reissue labels such as Finders Keepers, Pharaway Sounds or Light in the Attic have begun to unearth a host of pre-revolution productions. Take Finders Keepers co-founder Doug Shipton's wonderful "Pomegranates" compilation of 60s/70s Persian pop, funk, folk and psych nuggets for instance. The task is a risky one that demands patience and endurance, seeing as said productions remain illegal in Iran and thus hidden from view, but nonetheless popular.

To accompany their article, foreign correspondents Marion Armengod and Franck Haderer added a 52-minute Pre-Revolution mix of tracks discovered during their stay, courtesy of French DJ Super Freak. Unfortunately, a tracklist was not included. Listen to the full mix here and read the full article "Téhéran: à la chasse aux chants cachés du Shah" here.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom