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Dudu Tassa and The Kuwaitis

Israel

Radiohead pal revisits Iraqi classics

When guitar hero Jonny Greenwood guests on your records, and when his band Radiohead take you on their US tour as the opening act, then you know you’ve punched through. And so it is with Tel Aviv native Dudu Tassa. His modus operandi is an intriguing one, an approach that sees him digging deep into his family’s past. His grandfather and great-uncle were the Al-Kuwaiti brothers, the prolific partnership that transformed the Arabic music scene of Iraq in the mid-20th century, despite being Jewish. They were loved by civilians and kings alike, but when Saddam Hussein rose to power, their stardom evaporated. Their music was banned, as was any acknowledgement that they were Jews. “You can’t make a song disappear,” Dudu told Songlines’ Robin Denselow, “but you can make the writer’s name disappear.” Setting their songs to a spiky rock treatment, their grandson/great-nephew lifts the pair high again.