3 Mustaphas 3 – Alter Image

Here is a band that has a very interesting story. According to legend, the Mustaphas were smuggled out of their mysterious Balkan hometown of Szegerely (where they played at the Crazy Loquat Club) in refrigerators, ending up in England. Not only did they play Balkan music, but many styles from around the globe which they first heard on the eclectic jukebox at the Crazy Loquat Club. Of course this tale isn’t true, but it explains the approach that 3 Mustaphas 3 take with their music. Their motto is “Forward in all directions!” which expresses their musical diversity. This group got together in 1982 in England, where Ben Mandelson (Hijaz Mustapha) a guitarist and musicologist, began playing with bassist Colin Bass (Sabah Habas Mustapha) and a revolving door of people all of whom assumed bizarre Mustapha relative names, including former Damned and future Mekons member Lu Edmonds, who proved himself adept at the saz and various other ethnic stringed instruments.

It would be hard to find a band as diverse as 3 Mustaphas 3. They drew from Latin, African, Indian, filmi, country, & Balkan influences. If a musical style existed somewhere in the world, it became of interest to the band. They were playing so called “world music” before the term was even coined. They were playing global styles before Paul Simon’s Graceland exploded upon the international market. 3 Mustaphas 3 did benefit from the rising interest in world music after the release ofGraceland, catching the attention of John Peel in the process. While the band was serious about the music they made, they injected a lot of humor into their performances. Take a look at a video from Alter Image, on UK’s Channel 4 in 1988. The band has never officially disbanded, so let’s hope a reunion is in store one of these days.

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