Is with great pride that I present my favorite Turkish singer today, leaving aside the innoxious pop from the Pekkan sisters, this is definitely one of the most haunting vocals per se, creating an extraordinary hybrid folk album you are ever likely to hear! Singer, composer, and political activist when Selda Bağcan first released her long-awaited Lp, she was enduring her hiatus as one of the most politically outspoken popular singers to hail from Turkey. During the 70s she had made a household name as a traditional Anadolu protest singer with a spectacular emotive vocal capacity.
Artists such as Mogollar (also known to a growing french audience as Les Mogol), had previously recorded a run of singles with the singer in a traditional folk style. After fusing jazz, funk and electronically treated instruments, Selda in recent years had enjoyed a Western recognition, thanks to Finders Keepers re-release.
Let’s go to our history:
Selda Bağcan Resmi Sayfası was born in 1948. She grew up in a well-educated family, where she showed interest in music at an early age. She played the guitar for pleasure until her first two singles recorded in 1971 sold almost a million copies! That was the turning point, and step by step, she became one of the most influential female figures in the Turkish folk scene. She recorded a single with Mogollar in 1972.
The same year, she was sent to Bulgaria by the Turkish government to participate in the Golden Orfeus Festival. The 70s were the peak years of Selda’s career as she heavily toured Turkey and Europe while she was building up a large fan base.
But before we continue, let’s return to the political and social context?!
The 1970s were marked by right-wing/left-wing armed conflicts, often proxy wars between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, respectively. To create a pretext for a decisive intervention, the Turkish military allowed the conflicts to escalate, some say they actively adopted a strategy of tension. The violence abruptly stopped afterward, and the coup was welcomed by some for restoring order.
For the next three years, the Turkish Armed Forces ruled the country through the National Security Council before democracy was restored. The 12 September 1980 Turkish coup d’état, headed by Chief of the General Staff, General Kenan Evren, was the third coup d’état in the history of the Republic after the 1960 and 1971 coups.
To date, no one has been punished in Turkey for crimes including 650,000 people detained & 230,000 people prosecuted in military courts. Over 300 people died in prison, including 171 who died as a result of torture. Hundreds of thousands were tortured, 14,000 were stripped of citizenship, thousands are still missing, a total of 1,683,000 people were blacklisted. There were 49 executions & hangings, including a 17-year-old student named Erdal Eren who said he looked forward to death to avoid thinking of the torture he had witnessed. (!!)
The military junta dictated the terms of a phony return to democracy in 1983 when the murderous General Evren retired, he moved to a Mediterranean resort town. Now 96-years old, it took the Turkish courts over 30 years to press charges against the generalissimo and the only other surviving general.
To close the matter, a small addendum of U.S. participation. Following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Washington had lost its main ally in the region, while the Carter doctrine, formulated on 23 January 1980, stated that the U.S. would use military force if necessary to defend its national interests in the Persian Gulf region. (sic)
Turkey received large sums of economic aid, mainly organized by the OECD, and military aid from NATO, but the USA in particular. Between 1979 and 1982 the OECD countries raised $4 billion in economic aid to Turkey.
Let us return to her biography and its tragic developments.
After the infamous military coup in 1980, her passport was seized by the government and she couldn’t leave the country until 1987. Meanwhile, she missed the opportunity to attend the WOMAD Foundation Festival. She was imprisoned in 1982 and again in 1984. (!) After 1987, Selda took the stage in numerous festivals in both Turkey and Europe. In 1990, she bought the rights to her own recordings.
In 1994, she started re-releasing them in a series of albums named Turkulerimiz from her own record company Major Muzik. Her most recent album of original material, Halkım was released in 2011. After surviving a serious accident in 2000 while she was touring, Selda was relatively lucky in the new millennium with the rediscovery of Turkish psychedelic-era music by European and American collectors!
Let’s go to our album:
Released in 1976 to huge critical acclaim and skepticism in equal parts, the album smashed new boundaries both lyrically and musically. With electronically treated Saz and proto poly-phonic synthesizers, Selda was one of the few female voices to adopt the use of such cutting edge techniques. Frowned on by the paranoid Turkish authorities, songs like Meydan Sizindir and Ince Ince were viewed as calls to revolt by the working classes. She would face the threat of imprisonment due to her desire for freedom of speech and a demand for the quality of human life.
After this introduction, I would like to say that the today’s album is very similar to the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul: a myriad of corners, colors, spices, and people such as this striking record, capable of countless moments and tinges!
The ‘IM’ highlights are: Nasirli Eller, close to a Tarantino’s soundtrack, this unique flash, with a sentimental performance, orchestral arrangement, plus eerie synths, leads us to an epic and surprising outcome. Resembling Shirley Bassey’s acts, back in the 60s! And Gitme, an electronic pop voyage through Mount Ararat, with a sticky chorus, oriental scales and much credit to the impressive band that accompanies her.
It is evident the importance of Ince Ince who entered in the famous collection Love, Peace and Poetry, so even though we emphasize other sounds, however the social queries present in the lyrics still remain unanswered!
‘Istanbul’un benzemiyor neden o Urfalara,
yoksul Maraş, susuz urfa, ya Diyarbakırların?
yandık yandık, öldük öldük, bir yudum su,
etme ağam, n’olur…’
A1 Kızıl Dere
A2 Mehmet Emmi
A3 Nasırlı Eller
A4 Ince Ince
A5 Gine Haber Gelmiş
B1 Dam Üstüne Çulserer
B2 Dos Uyan
B3 Yaz Gazeteci
B5 Niye Çattın Kaşlarını
B6 Meydan Sizindir
- Backing Vocals: Dadaşlar
- Leader: Arif Sağ
- Perfomer: Moğollar
- Performer, Vocals: Selda Baǧcan
- Producer: Zafer Dilek
Originally recorded at Yeni Studios.
Türküola – Tr. St. 304
‘We would like to thank: Dün – Bugün – Yarin Ork. Dadaşlar and Moğollar groups with Arif Sağ and Zafer Dilek, Studio Şat, studio Elektronik and Yeni studio, Çikita Doğan E. Ayyıdız and Ferhan Uçoklar for their advertising and Erhan Printer, Thank You for all their valuable help and contributions for this Long Play.’