Shahen Shah

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - Shahen Shah


Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was a man of impressive, even daunting, stature. The emotional intensity and soaring power of his voice transcend all boundaries of language and religion and have popularised this beautiful and inspirational music beyond Muslim peoples to audiences worldwide.

Among Real World Records’ most emblematic artists, Nusrat was known as Shahen-Shah-e-Qawwali: The Brightest Shining Star in Qawwali.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who died in 1997, is considered to be the great master of Qawwali and each vocal performance on this record is utterly captivating. Shahen Shah is a more traditional recording than his album Mustt Mustt, which is also available in this series of vinyl re-issues.

Originally released in 1989 and available on vinyl for the first time since it’s original release – 180g black vinyl, with digital download card. This re-issue replicates the original four-track LP release. Two additional tracks (Nit Khair Mansan Sohnia Main Teri and Kehna Ghalat Ghalat To Chhupana Sahi Sahi) that featured on the CD version are available as part of the digital download file..

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Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - Shahen Shah


Side A

01 Shamas-Ud-Doha, Badar-Ud-Doja
02 Allah, Mohammed, Char, Yaar

Side B

01 Nit Khair Mansan Sohnia Main Teri
02 Kehna Ghalat Ghalat To Chhupana Sahi Sahi

This is the same track list as the original vinyl release. The tracks below were included on the CD edition of the album:

Digital Download only

05 Kali Kali Zulfon Ke Phande Nah Dalo
06 Meri Ankhon Ko Bakhshe Hain Aansoo


Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: Main Vocal
Mujahid Mubarik Ali Khan: Nusrat’s cousin and senior singer
Farrukh Fateh Ali Khan: Nusrat’s younger brother, singer and harmonium
Iqbal Naqbi: Chorus and manager of the group
Asad Ali Khan: Chorus
Dildar Hussein: Tabala
Kaukab Ali: Pupil singer
Atta Fareed: Chorus
Ghulam Fareed: Chorus
Mohammad Maskeen: Chorus

Recorded and mixed at Real World Studios, March 1988
Recording Engineer: David Bottrill
Mixing Engineer: Richard Evans
Musical Director: Farrukh Fateh Ali Khan

Original Design: Mouat @ Assorted Images
Photography: Dave PeabodyWith thanks to Mr Mohammed Ayuub of Oriental Star Agencies
Back cover: Dasht-i-kavir, the windblown desert floor of the salt flats and salt lake, Iran.

All tracks traditional, arranged by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Party
Published by WOMAD Music Ltd/EMI Music Publishing Ltd

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Liner Notes

Qawwali means literally utterance and the Qawwal is the mouthpiece of Divine Power: ‘We do not sing, we are made to sing.’ This is the devotional music of the Sufis the mystical sect of Islam, intended to elevate the spirit and bring both performer and listener closer to God.

The illustrious Khan family of classical music masters have been developing the art of Qawwali for over six centuries. Nusrat himself, however, did not initially intend to become a Qawwal. He decided to sing only after recurring dreams convinced him it was the path to follow.

Qawwali originated with the foundation of the Christi order of Sufis in Khorosan in the early 10th century and was brought to the Indian Sub-Continent in the 12th century. Traditionally, a Qawwali performance is heard at the shrine of a saint or a gathering of the brotherhood. Today the Qawwal will sing at all major events such as marriages and religious feasts, and even in an increasing number of secular contexts, remaining still the most popular form of musical expression in Pakistan.

The performers sit in a close group. Small hand-pumped harmoniums provide the melody, whilst the rhythm is maintained by tabla or dholak and the hand-clapping of the chorus. The music builds from the opening alap to increasingly louder and higher crescendos. The chorus, highlighting salient parts in the form of a refrain, echo the melodies sung by Nusrat. Over the solid rhythmic foundation the singer elaborates subtle vocal lines, accompanied by dramatic gestures of the hands and arms.

The lyrics are generally in Urdu (Persian), drawing upon the symbolic richness and beauty of the language and its ancient mystic traditions.

“…transcendentally mystical but with all the visceral presence of rock; ancient forms renewed with tremendous energy and immediacy.”
City Paper (USA)

About the Artist

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
The late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is one of the key artists on Real World Records and certainly one of the most influential. His voice is universally recognised as one of the great voices in musical history and he was key in bringing the Qawwali music tradition to the Western world.

Qawwali is a form of Sufi devotional music popular in South Asia, particularly in areas with a historically strong Muslim presence, such as southern Pakistan and parts of North India.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s legacy has enraptured millions across the globe with his magnificent and haunting voice. In his lifetime he collaborated with many Western musicians, including Peter Gabriel, Eddie Vedder and Michael Brook. His vocals appeared on soundtracks to films directed by Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone and Tim Robbins.

‘Seminal’ is a word which often gets overused when describing great works of art but it is directly applicable to two of the albums he recorded for Real World Records, both of which were collaborations with Michael Brook: 1990’s Mustt Mustt and 1996’s Night Song.

It was the late American singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley who, in 1993, described Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan as ‘my Elvis.’

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: 1948-1997

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