Various ‘Let no one judge you. Early recordings from Iran,1906-1933’ 2CD/3LP/Digital (Honest Jon’s) 5/5

Let-No-One-Judge-YouWest London based label Honest Jon’s has gradually built up an impressive roster of early roots recordings from throughout the globe and on this occasion they have had the foresight to select some of the earliest known recordings of music from Iran. a country that the West has many preconceptions about, but has little or no knowledge of its vast musical legacy. For that reason alone, the new anthology is very welcome indeed. It actually marks a cultural collaboration of sorts that existed between the then Shah, who had visited England and was impressed by the new medium at the time of the phonograph, and visiting musicians from Iran. By 1906 a recording contract was concluded between the Gramophone Typewriter Company and the Iranian distributors for five discs of material the contents of which are contained within this two CD set. The result was some incredible recordings of classical Iranian music that include both instrumental prowess and soulful vocal accompaniment. Since they date from the early part of the twentieth century listing the names would be a futile gesture since even educated Iranians might barely know only the odd name. However, both the music and the lavishly illustrated hardback booklet that accompanies the CD with photos of the musicians of the era open an entire world of creative activity to the listener/reader and as such cannot be faulted. The insightful notes educate us as to how the recording and distribution process were undertaken at the very beginnings of the record industry. A marvellous document of a time that had been long forgotten until these sides were recovered and lovingly restored. Tim Stenhouse