I picked up this Cem Karaca Kardaşlar 45 on my trip to Istanbul a few years ago. The mother of the woman who owned the store recommended this record, saying Kardaşlar is one of her favorite bands from the 1970′s. I was more familiar with Barış Manço and Selda from Turkish psych comps that were popping up a the time and this seemed like as solid of a recommendation as any. After returning home and giving the record a spin I was pleased to find that it was exactly the East meets West Turkish fusion that I was trying to hunt down.
Cem Karaca got his start in an Elvis cover band, which seems to be a good of place to start in the early 1960′s. He moved onto a Turkish language band, Apaşlar (The Rowdies) by the late 60′s and fully moved into a strong rock-Anatolian fusion with Kardaşlar (The Brothers). For those keeping watch of their Turkish psych comps he also spent time in Moğollar and Dervişan. He has a fulsome discography, with Discogs listing 53 releases.
In the mid 1970′s, at what was his most creative period, Turkey was shuddering under political repression and coups. The turmoil in society bubbled up into pop music too. Barış Manço and Cem Karaca represented two opposing political currents and identities. Manço the nationalist-traditionalist stood on one pole and Karaca, the leftist-internationalist, stood on the other side. For some it was a political litmus test presented as taste. It might have been his mixed background that gave Karaca his more cosmopolitain outlook. Karaca fled the country in 1979 to see his citizen stripped and an arrest warrant issued a short time later. It was nearly a decade before he was pardoned and allowed to return.