Dirty Linen - p.89
"Besides her worldly warbling, the feisty Atlas' interpretations of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' 'I Put a Spell on You' and James Brown's '(It's a Man's Mans') Mans' World' take power back for the ladies>'
Personnel: Natacha Atlas (vocals); Sawt el Atlas, Tuup (vocals); Mike Nielsen (acoustic guitar, programming); Essam Rashad, Keith Clouston (oud); Yehia El Mougi, Samir Rashad (violin); Simon Walker (strings); David Arnold, Alex Kasiek, Timothy Whelan, Gamal Awad (keyboards); Larry Whelan (midi horn); Count Dubulah (bass guitar); Ashiqali Hussein (tabla); Tim Garsaiddi, Hamid Mantu (percussion); Transglobal Underground (programming); Neil Sparkes (unknown instrument); Abdel Ali Slimani (background vocals).
Arranger: David Arnold.
A well thought-out collection for both fans and newcomers, The Best of Natacha Atlas is one of those all too rare compilations with the artist's involvement. Atlas not only picked the songs, she's decided to update some of the older tracks with new vocals and other remix touches. This updating feels perfectly natural coming from an artist who blends traditional Middle Eastern music with beat-driven electronica, besides the fact it gives the established fan base a good reason to consider the collection. Exotic songs from her homeland sung over slick beats mix with Atlas' sensual and trippy interpretations of Western material and the running order sorts it all out nicely. What holds the collection together is Atlas' breathy but strong, so very sweet voice and the playful but respectful attitude she takes toward song selection. Her readings of "I Put a Spell on You" and "You Only Live Twice" are filled with so much genuine passion it's hard to consider it camp, but Atlas does add some levity to her heady musical surroundings with her high-spirited singing. That "Leysh Nat' Arak" appears in three different versions without wearing out its welcome should tell you something about how creative and inventive this artist can be. Don't stop here, but start here if you're unfamiliar with the talented, entrancing, and bold Natacha Atlas. ~ David Jeffries