Friday, 29 February 2008

Swedish Charts Update

44th week in the Sverige Topplistan and "This Is Who I Am" is still hanging on at no. 54!!

Thursday, 28 February 2008

The return of H3FK

One of Salem's many other projects outwith his own career is H3FK. This is a band playing a mixture of instrumental Arabic/Oriental/folk/jazz/roots/world music and is actually made up of two separate groups - the Örjan Hultén Trio and FakirKarlsson. The latter of course features Salem on piano and violin and his big bro Nassim on percussion. They made an album in 2005 called "Ayouni" but are now set to return with the follow-up "Nubiska Nätter" to be released in March. Due to Salem's numerous other commitments over the past year he won't actually be appearing on this album but is still part of the group. They will play the famous Fasching jazzclub on 13th March, and I just wonder if Salem will be part of the line-up? (EDIT 02.03.07: yes he will be!!)

Whilst I'm typing this I'm listening to some of their music at their MySpace sites and Whilst it's not really my type of music it is very well crafted and the musicianship is, as you would expect from anything involving any of the Al Fakir family, quite outstanding.

Oh, and here is a picture of FakirKarlsson from 2006, which I found tonight whilst I was doing my research!

Monday, 25 February 2008

"This Is Who I Am" revisited - tracks 16 and 17

We now reach the end of our journey through Salem's debut album....

16. "Thank You" (3.19)

Being the well-mannered individual that he is, Salem brings the album to a close in a rather unique and touching way. "I gotta go I gotta go/I got nothing more to say/but I just wanna thank you all for listening". Since I first heard this track, it screamed "Steely Dan" at me, and still does, as Salem's vocals are strongly reminiscent of Donald Fagen.

17. "End" (3.32)

The album ends the way it started, with a short, spacey instrumental piece. If you keep listening you will find the hidden track at the end, a bluesy guitar jam which, again, is completely different from everything that's gone before.

The Ones That Got Away:

"Bright Side of Life": Yes, in case you wondered, Salem can do reggae too, and very well. Uptempo, happy and good-humoured and does what it says on the tin. This is part of the album track listing on iTunes and that's where I got it, however can't find it on the CD unless it's maybe part of the Opendisc thing, I don't know?

"Friend": I still don't understand why this track - from the "Dream Girl" EP - was left off the album, as it's a real treat. Twinkling keyboards, sweet vocals and minimal lyrics all go to make up a particular retro-flavoured delight.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Oslo gig reviews "lost in translation" :-)

Salem played 2 gigs in Oslo at this "by:Larm" thing and I've already seen a couple of Norwegian newspapers' websites reviews which would appear to be good, although I can't really tell because (a) my knowledge of Norwegian is virtually non-existent and (b) the translation sites never really made much sense.

Anyway I will attempt to translate these and any other reviews and may just post my findings later. In the meantime here are a couple of pictures of Salem from one of the Oslo gigs, courtesy of and who both published reviews of the Oslo shows.

Norwegian TV screencaps as promised.

From yesterday's "Waschera" show on TV2 Norway. The other guys on the sofa were a couple of snowboarders.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Salem on Norwegian TV2 today

Salem is of course in Oslo at the moment for a couple of gigs at the By:larm event and he also appeared on Norwegian TV2's "Waschera" programme today, which is available at the following link: .

He's got his hair tied back again, but I'm used to this by now so it doesn't bother me anymore :-) anyway he was looking lovely as ever, although I'm a bit concerned that he's maybe lost a bit of weight?

I've done some screencaps and will post these here tomorrow, and hopefully might track down some reviews of his Oslo gigs too.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Swedish Charts Update

In this week's Sverige Topplistan albums chart, "This Is Who I Am" has slipped to no. 49 but is still hanging on in there!

Salem in Oslo, Thursday/Friday

The by:larm thingy has finally arrived and Salem will be playing two gigs in Oslo - one tomorrow night (OK, tonight, as it's now Thursday!) and one on Friday. I will then go in search of reviews and will post anything I find on here. Hopefully the good people of Oslo will turn up in their numbers and enjoy the wild and crazy live experience of a Salem Al Fakir gig!!

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

"This Is Who I Am" revisited - tracks 13 to 15

The penultimate part of my review.

13. "Hymn" (2.24)
A real Disney-type feel to this one. This needs to get itself on a soundtrack album pronto. An impossibly pretty lullaby, irony-free and dripping with childlike innocence. Maybe too sugary sweet for some, but it will do for me.

14. "Damien and Bob" (1.36)
No track could be a bigger contrast than this one. The shortest vocal track on the album, and reminiscent of Nirvana-type grunge with a twist. Initially I didn’t like this, as I didn’t like the idea of Salem doing rock music. I did change my mind and now think this would be a very good idea indeed. (purely based on "Japanese Man", anyway!) It is the only song on this album to have its lyrics in the sleeve booklet, so that must have some significance. Demented brass and headbanging all the way.

15. "Good Song" (4.14)
And so to my favourite track on this album, my favourite track of 2007 and maybe even of all time, who knows? I've already said a lot on here and over at EuropeCrazy about this song, its feelgood factor and its clever and funny video. Interestingly it is the most fully formed traditional verse-chorus-verse song structure which Salem does not usually always follow. A modern classic yet it again sounds as if it was written in 1975 or thereabouts. Musically using everything at his disposal - notably piano and strings, and the ultimate singalong which always leaves me smiling.

Coming soon: the final two tracks, and the one that got away.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

"This Is Who I Am" revisited - tracks 10 to 12

10. "It's True" (3.24)
Here in its original version with its blissful twinkling piano hookline. There is an incredible optimism running all through this album - if you're looking for sad songs, then look elsewhere. The lyrics say it all....

The grass is greener on the other side/I told some people now they know it/Forget your old lawn, come over to mine/Take your first step and you will get there in time/It's true, life will smile for you.

Reinvented last summer for the dancefloor by Axwell and Ingrosso of course: that, too, is sheer bliss.

11. Magic Night (3.11)
Initially I thought the album could have done without this instrumental, reminiscent of 70s party night at the working men’s club. However, over the past few months it has grown on me in a strange way. Fast, lunatic and completely manic. Played live, I would imagine that this crosses over to another place.

12. Baroon (0.52)
I still find this an unnecessary instrumental interlude, although accept that it has to exist as a chilled-out comedown from the manic "Magic Night". Doesn’t really go anywhere and like "Jussi" I haven’t really revised my opinion of it.

Coming soon: tracks 13 to 15.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Expressen culture prizes.

The Expressen newspaper's culture prizegiving ceremony took place the other day and (of course) Salem was one of the winners. Here he is pictured above with the other winners (photo courtesy of Expressen). Looking rather serious, don't you think?

He also sang "It's True" at the ceremony and one of Expressen's bloggers described him as "super snygg" - a description which we at Planet Salem would never argue with! (Although probably a couple of marks deducted for the hair tied back!!)

Salem also played live this week at the opening of Stockholm's biggest new hotel, the Clarion Sign. Sadly I haven't been able to find any photos of him from this event.

Yet another gratuitous pic of Salem at the Grammisgalan...

Looking rather delicious too, considering he was feeling unwell that night!

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Swedish Charts Update

In this week's Sverige Topplistan, "This Is Who I Am" has slipped from no. 23 to no. 36. No real surprise as everyone in Sweden should own a copy by now. And if they haven't, then they should. And come to think of it, so should everyone outside Sweden too. :-)))


At last a new item of news today.

Swedish business newspaper Veckans Affärer today published its list of the 101 "supertalents" in Sweden. The list includes the usual mix of business people and the ubiquitous (and overrated IMHO) Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Anyway - guess who's in 6th place on the list??? Salem !!! Congratulations yet again!!

More MySpace stuff for all the completists out there (ok, just me then...?)

I recently mentioned Salem Al Fakir's work with Linn Segolson so it would be a logical step to mention her brother Stefan whose experimental blend of soul music gets an airing over at his MySpace ( There is a reworking of Cherrelle and Alexander O'Neal's 80s duet "Saturday Love" by his band The Ultimates - made up of Stefan, Linn, Red Astaire and none other than Salem!

Of course Salem is also listed as a member of Linn's band 'Linn and The Skin' which also features Stefan....are you keeping up with this? And let's not forget Freddie Cruger/Red Astaire's band as well! Is Salem trying to get into the Guinness book of world records for the amount of bands he's been a member of?????

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

"It's True" remix on new Hed Kandi "Twisted Disco" compilation CD

OK I think I've just about given up now on the Axwell & Ingrosso vs Salem Al Fakir version of "It's True" ever getting a full commercial single release in the UK and doing some serious damage in the top 40.

I'd like to be proved wrong though eventually, in which case there will be one big party on this blog.

Anyway Dabruck and Klein's remix of the remix (!) is now appearing on the latest Hed Kandi "Twisted Disco" compilation CD. To be honest it's not really my favourite mix, I prefer the original Axwell and Ingrosso remix and that's the one I'd want as a hit single. Someday!

"This Is Who I Am" revisited - tracks 7 to 9

7. "Jussi" (0.59): This is perhaps a significant nod to Salem's classical training and musical heritage, but apart from that it doesn't really sit well on this album. I haven't really revised my opinion of this one.

8. "Devil Look" (4.47): Propelled by funky guitars and honey-sweet vocal harmonies, the lyrics muse on the nature of temptation - "it's hard to say no when the devil looks at you". This could be about a relationship ("I gotta break up/before it's too late") or just life in general. This is like two songs in one - the last couple of minutes turn into an excessively mind-boggling psychedelic synth solo, with distorted voices in the background. I can imagine this just being fantastic in a live setting.

9. "Count Me Out" (3.23): Another real favourite of mine, and yet another one which clearly shows off a strong 70s musical influence - I mean that as a compliment! Soulful vocals, beautiful string arrangements (all Salem's own work of course), layered vocal harmonies and a truly brilliant brassy finale. The lyrics of this break-up song are again simple and straightforward and easy to identify with. All in all, a rather beautiful song.

Coming soon: tracks 10 to 12.

Monday, 11 February 2008

New photo on Salem's website

Check out the latest photo of Salem and the boys from his band having lunch after rehearsals. Umm....interesting headgear!

Anyway it's been a month since the Grammisgalan but there's still no news to report and nothing on the horizon apart from the two Norwegian gigs later this month. No news is good news? Or just, no news is .... no news?

Sunday, 10 February 2008

"This Is Who I Am" revisited - Part 2

Today I'm featuring tracks 4 to 6.

4. Two Long Distance To Great Thoughts (2.33)
An instrumental where folk music meets prog rock now. No don’t switch off, because here is Salem showing us a couple more styles that he not only can do, but can do in a dazzling manner. It starts off sounding like a traditional Swedish violin folk tune and then turns into a Focus-style 70s prog number. By now you have learned to expect the unexpected.

5. Dream Girl (4.27)
And now to the first of the album’s three most significant songs, placed at tracks 5, 10 and 15. "Dream Girl", his first single, does not sound as if it was written in 2006, for it is far too accomplished and timeless to come from this throwaway decade. "Dream Girl" has no chorus, but has a spectacular piano hookline and when played live this song just soars. Magnificent may just not be enough to describe it. Some people have made rather negative comments about Salem's voice but I happen to love it, and it suits his songs perfectly.

6. It’s Only You (3.13)
Nearest thing to a ballad as it gets, this is just too pretty for words and Salem’s voice is so sweet and full of warmth. Although many of the songs on this album have complex layered musical arrangements, this is straightforward and simple and gorgeous. It is one of my favourite tracks on the album.

Coming soon - tracks 7 to 9.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

"This Is Who I Am" revisited - part 1

I previously did a review of Salem's debut album over at EuropeCrazy back in July 2007, but now that I've got this site, and now that a whole new audience have discovered him since the Grammisgalan and put the album back into the Swedish Top 10, I thought it would be a good time to revisit this album and do a more in-depth review, track by track.

Tonight I'll start off with the first three tracks.

1. "Begin" (0.56)
We know that Salem Al Fakir is fond of structure, beginnings and endings. Therefore the album begins with a short, spacey, synthesized overture which provides no clue as to the album's direction. That's because there isn't one. Prepare for the most varied, crazy, brave and ambitious collection of songs and tunes on an album which defies convention.

2. "This Is Who I Am" (3.28)
Arguably the real beginning of the album, lyrically this is Salem's mission statement. Take him or leave him, this is who he is and he cannot do anything about it. And we wouldn't want him to. Salem plays every musical instrument on this album (apart from brass instruments, played by his brother Sami). Musically, this is a very accomplished track, with brass and strings keyboards and is an early indication of the 'retro' nature of his music, which I find appealing anyway.

3. "Tell Me" (2.52)
Another song brings another style - this time a strong soul music influence. At the time of this album's release, the Swedish media often labelled Salem as "Sweden's Stevie Wonder" which was a rather lazy comparison but still kind of understandable in a way. Anyway, this is just such a feelgood track despite the 'why did the sun stop shining/why did the fire stop burning' lyrics. I particularly like the line "too bad you stole the sun and froze it". Layered vocal harmonies and brilliant piano playing. This is one of my favourite tracks on this album.

Coming soon: tracks 4 to 6.

Monday, 4 February 2008

New summer festival appearance confirmed

In 2007, Salem appeared at a number of Swedish summer music festivals, but his name hadn't figured in any of the line-ups announced so far for the various festivals in summer 2008. Until today, when some of the acts were announced for a brand new festival in Karlskoga in Central Sweden. Salem will appear at the festival which is called Putte i Parken and will run from 31 July to 7 August.

Other acts in the line-up for this festival include Maia Hirasawa, Those Dancing Days, Adam Tensta, Fibes! Oh Fibes! and Timo Räisänen.

Hopefully Salem will be making some more live appearances during the summer!

Sunday, 3 February 2008

New Linn Segolson video footage on YouTube

There's a live video of Linn Segolson been added to YouTube, in which she and her band are performing the extremely funky and jazzy "Say It Out Loud" which features Salem playing keyboards. Check out and I guarantee that you will be dancing around the room in no time. It's impossible not to tap your feet to this!

Salem will also be working on Linn's debut album, coming soon. Check out her Myspace - - there's a great live version of "Be Thankful" on there too.