History

The origins of the band are tied to the start of the musical career of Mohamed Al-Sadeqi (Jun 1956) and of Nabil Al-Sadeqi (1959), two brothers from the tiny Gulf island state of Bahrain.

They belonged to a musical family and their parents encouraged the brothers' musical tendencies. At the age of six, Nabil was asked by his father what he wanted to do with his life, Nabil answered the he wanted to become a drummer like Ringo STARR and his father went out and bought his son a drum kit. Both brothers, along with their sister, were taught privately by a music teacher. In the case of Mohamed, this continued for several years. At the age of eleven Mohamed had mastered
guitar and Nabil could play drums by the age of eight.

Since childhood, Nabil and Mohamed had been avid music listeners and were exposed to a wide range of music, listening to the many discs of classical, jazz, local folk, pop and rock music owned by them and their cousins. In the sixties they learned to love the BEATLES but gradually came round to buying records by other bands and followed the scene in music magazines. Towards the end of the sixties, progressive rock and creative music became big and the boys fell in love with bands such as Deep Purple, Jethro Tull, Yes and other giant bands of the era.

In 1969, after jam sessions with their elder sister Faequa (organ) and their cousin HAYDEN (rhythm guitar/bass) the brothers decided to make this their first band, the four of them having studied music together as children. They called themselves WITCH and played music mixing funk, jazz and commercial rock, doing gigs for fun at parties, doing reasonably well and gaining some popularity in the country. But in 1974 the band broke up when Mohamed left to study mechanical engineering at Houston in Texas. He did not abandon his musical studies however and devoted himself to theory and guitar technique, even winning a prize for his guitar work. Nabil then lived in London for a time studying aeronautical engineering, but also kept his musical hand in jamming during his stay, even managing to do some studio work. It was in Houston where the idea of forming a progressive rock band was born first in the mind of Mohamed. The two brothers returned to Bahrain in 1980 and proceeded to form a progressive band playing their own music. But musicians of the quality the brothers wanted were
hard to find on a small island like Bahrain.
Nabil and Mohamed began rehearsing in the garage of their parents' home in Manama and received lots of friends and visitors interested in the idea of setting up Bahrain's first ever progressive rock band.

Small ads were placed to attract musicians. A few bassists were tried but without success, until Mohammed SHAFII (b.1961), a computer programmer and a friend of a friend, decided to try playing for the brothers himself, having helped out at numerous rehearsals. The search for a keyboardist proved longer (some six months) and much more difficult. One day, a friend phoned them to tell them of an impressive player he'd seen and a jam session was set up to try him out. This keyboardist, Sami AL-JAMEA (b. 1962) impressed Nabil and Mohamed who asked him to join immediately.

A few weeks later, Mohamed AMIN KOOHEJI (b.1955), another friend who wanted to join, came in on guitar, bass and vocals. They then took on a second keyboardist, Abdul RAZAK ARYAN (b.July 1959), a banker who had had piano lessons as a child and played in several local bands. Razak's arrival gave the band a greater harmonic depth and richness and a greater sonic diversity. He complemented Sami's solos on piano and mini- moogs/Fender rhodes with chords on polyphonic synthesisers and organ. They doubled up on harmonies playing Korg keyboards, micro-moogs and Korg organ. Mohammed SHAFII was also the vocalist.


Fully satisfied with the lineup, the brothers began working out an original repertoire which would fuse musical complexity, melodic richness and Arab culture- it was important for them to signal their origins in the music. They chose the name OSIRIS from Egyptian mythology not only for its sound but its references to Arab culture, youth and fertility.

Mohamed took on most of the composing duties, bringing themes to the band for collective development. Some themes, such as "Fantasy" and “Myths and Legends” were wholly composed by Mohamed, but Mohammed SHAFII and Nabil also contributed in some numbers, notably "Embers of a Flame". The band rehearsed these songs for two hours a day three times a week. Mohamed Al-Sadeqi wrote the lyrics covering all aspects of life and different issues, including those of "Sailor of the Seas of Fate", about the ancient Bahrain culture of pearl-fishing which had made the island's name and had now all but completely disappeared.

OSIRIS was convinced that Mohammed could not play bass and sing simultaneously, and so they began looking for a solo vocalist who would also give their live performance some visual impact. Sami AL-JAMEA recommended Isa JANAHI whom he' had seen give some impressive performances with local bands. Isa was contacted, sat in on some rehearsals and, liking what he heard, joined the band. Beyond singing Isa could also play percussion and vibes.


The technique of the musicians and the wide musical palette at their disposal enabled OSIRIS to develop a sophisticated and refined symphonic music after the fashion of bands such as YES, CAMEL and JETHRO TULL, but with an originality built on the skills of the musicians and on advanced melodic input with plenty of tempo changes and elaborate instrumentation.

OSIRIS made their live debut at the end of 1981 in the AI-ADEWIYA concert hall in Bahrain. Isa wore garishly- coloured clothes and capes and captivated the audience with his highly animated presence on stage. The group also used lasers, a light show and smoke, bombs, all deftly handled by friends of the band. Their show lasted between 90 minutes and two hours. This gig was immediately followed by two others.

By then, The AL-SADEQI brothers had their hearts set on making an album, and selected seven songs from the twelve thus far composed to do just that. They booked the only studio in Bahrain, an eight-track affair by the name of Eagle Recording. They had only modest means and no manager to find them a record deal outside the country, but they negotiated a deal with the owner of the studio to record and mix the album in three days! Working six hours a day (after intensive preparation). Two recorded pieces had to be left aside as time limitations prevented mixing.

The sessions took place in 1982 under the eye of sound engineer Graham CARTER-DIMMOCK. The band was backed up by a temporary member, Nader RAFII on congas who had played a couple of concerts with the band. Mohamed AMIN played a small part on the album, playing bass on 'Fantasy', rhythm guitar on two songs and percussion on "Sailors on the Seas of Fate". The unnamed album had a sleeve carrying an illustration of the god Osiris, from a design by a local painter, Ebrahim SHARIF and inspired by a wall painting in an Egyptian temple.

Debbie MOSS, a young English girl of 19 and the daughter of an executive of the Bahrain national airline, had become a friend of one of the band members and had been to see them on stage. She was a keyboard player with a sound classical training and jammed with the band, showing great virtuosity in so doing. The band included her name on the cover as a sign of friendship and encouragement, but as Sami was planning to leave in order to take up his studies abroad, OSIRIS decided to invite Debbie to become a full-time member of the band. After a visit by Nabil, the band found a company in the Philippines that pressed 1000 copies of the album (pressing costs being very low in that country). The same company also handled distribution, which included a promotional single for radio use featuring the titles "Fantasy" and "Embers of a Flame". "Fantasy" became one of the top ten favorite songs on Bahrain radio.

The album came out at the end of 1983 and the band sold it at concerts and at record shops in Bahrain, selling 1000 units at home and 2000 in the Philippines! The band considered the album as little more than a promotional tool and had their sights set on making more.

The music of OSIRIS mixes Anglo-Saxon progressive influences (CAMEL, GENESIS, and JETHRO TULL) with Arabic music, notably the interplay of percussion lines and succeeds in being a genuine musical osmosis between two cultures.


From the First to the Second Album


OSIRIS were the first Bahraini band to issue an album and although their prog-rock orientation made it difficult for them to gain a large public reputation quickly, Mohamed and Nabil were encouraged by early reactions to continue their musical adventure. But in 1983 Sami AL-JAMEA and Mohammed SHAFII quit the band to pursue their studies overseas. Mohammed AMIN also decided to take up a normal professional career and left the band. As expected, Debbie MOSS then joined the band as Sami’s replacement. Like the rest of the band, she had a daily job of work and would meet with them during the evenings to rehearse and work at new compositions.

Debbie, a big fan of progressive rock and jazz, adapted quickly to the music and to the array of keyboards she was expected to use. A few weeks after she joined, Khalid ALMUTAWA a student and friend of the band, joined too as bassist after numerous unsatisfactory auditions with other musicians who lacked sufficient technique. He had been approached by the band before but had always turned them down for ‘personal reasons’. This time, after the departure of Mohammed, he accepted. A student of classical guitar from the age of 10, Khalid had won a reputation as a talented bassist and played in a local pop group, composing his own bass lines and displaying splendid technique.

OSIRIS rehearsed with this new lineup and gave its first concerts in its new guise on 16 and 17 February 1983 at the theatre of the Al-Adawiyah school in Gudabiya in front of 800 enthusiastic fans. New compositions of Mohamed AL-SADEQI’s such as “Myths and Legends” were played live for the first time here. But after the concert, the band decided to stick to composition with the aim of bringing out another album. These new numbers were worked out according to the band’s established practice. Mohamed supplying the melodies and riffs which were then completely reworked and developed collectively by the musicians. Some themes came about in the course of jamming.

Lacking funds, the band couldn’t issue another album in ’83, but in August they gave two concerts at Bahrain’s Hotel Diplomat and at the start of the following year Bahrain Television informed the band they wanted to do a TV special on them, as OSIRIS were clearly Bahrain’s most popular band and, furthermore, had an entirely self-written repertoire. And so, in the course of a charity event on February 12 and 13 1984, OSIRIS gave two gigs at the Hotel Diplomat which were filmed by TV crews for the broadcast. In May 1984 they gave a concert with Khalid AL TURK, a young student of 21 who then replaced Khalid ALMUTAWA, who was out of the country at the time.

OSIRIS could now afford to put on a lavish stage show with smoke, lasers, dry ice and a sophisticated lighting rig. Additionally, Isa’s charismatic presence was a powerful visual feature. Without a manager, the group had to organize these concerts themselves, renting halls, putting up posters and contacting the press – not to mention seeking sponsorship. The sound was handled by friends of the band, owners of a local music shop called ‘Marshall Music Store’ where the group hired their equipment.

By the spring of 1984 the band once again were planning their second album and began getting funds together. But Isa was leaving Bahrain for a job in Qatar, although he agreed to stay and finish the album. In July the band reserved the Eagle Studios where they had recorded their first album and which was now equipped with 16-track recording facilities. Under the eye of recording engineer Graham CARTER-DIMMOCK, OSIRIS recorded the six titles earmarked for their album in just five days. The rhythm track for a seventh, “The Power” was laid down also, but due to lack of time, the whole recording was never finished. All titles were elaborated by the group but Mohamed was sole lyric-writer. Debbie was not familiar with all the material and played moog and piano on “Myths and Legends”, “Wasted” and in certain passages of other songs. While spending his holidays in Bahrain, Mohammed SHAFII sat in on the session playing his original bass parts. He also played rhythm guitar on the album.

The first three days were reserved for the recording of the rhythm parts and the final two days were given over to recording solos, vocals and mixing. Despite the rush, OSIRIS managed to release a high-quality album, despite the complexity of the music.

At this time, Debbie’s father, who was staying in Great Britain, was surprised to find thirty copies of OSIRIS’ first album in the possession of a record shop in Manchester. The band had no idea how they’d ended up there but it did mean that the album had some kind of distribution in the UK.

On August 9 and 10 1984, OSIRIS played two more gigs at the Hotel Diplomat. The house was full on the second evening. OSIRIS was by now well-known in Bahrain-the audience ranged from children of 10 to adults of 50. Mohammed SHAFII rejoined these concerts. Khalid was still on bass, so Mohamed became a multi-instrumentalist, playing flute, keyboards, and vibes and also singing. After these gigs, Isa left for Qatar and Debbie some time later for England. Mohamed shared the vocal duties with Mohammed SHAFII.

The big auditoria of Bahrain’s hotels – used by visiting international acts – were useful for OSIRIS’ extravagant live shows. The band had built up considerable artillery of equipment and needed all the space they could get.

Bahrain had no pressing plant and OSIRIS’s second album had to be pressed at a WEA factory in the Philippines. This meant inevitable delays. The master tape was finally sent in autumn 1984. The album, which had been financed from start to finish by the AL-SADEQI brothers, finally appeared in January 1985, enjoying massive success in Bahrain and quickly running into re-pressings to meet demand. Eventually Bahrain sales reached 2,000. A single, “Myths and Legends” was cut and sent to local radio stations where it received frequent airplay.

The popularity of the band was so huge in Bahrain that the local television network arranged a special interview with brothers Mohammad and Nabil, the founding members of the band. The interview included video clips from five songs that the band had played live in their last concert at the Diplomat hotel. These also featured additional tracks such as ‘Dreams of a jester,' and ‘Wasted.'

The line-up was: Mohamed Alsadeqi, guitars and vocals; Nabil Alsadeqi, drums; Abdul-razzaK Aryan, keyboards; Khalid Al-Mutawa, bass and acoustic guitar.

Tales of the Divers


On February 25 and 26 1985, OSIRIS presented at the Gulf Hotel a new stage-show centered around their forthcoming concept-album, to be entitled “Tales of the Divers”. To replace Debbie, the band had auditioned and recruited a young Filipino student named Howard TIERRA. The concept was based on the life and culture of Bahrain’s pearl divers, who had flourished before the discovery of oil and the industrialization of the country.

The music reflected all aspects of the pearl divers' lives such as preparation at dawn, departure for the sea and arrival at the fishing grounds. One song depicted the fishermen discussing their adventures and another one a fisherman describing the sea as a friend. This song was sung in Arabic. “The Storm” illustrated a violent tempest coming upon and surprising the fishermen, followed by a piece depicting the anxious wait of the fishermen’s’ wives for news of their husbands. The last dive and the preparations for the voyage home came next, and the show ended with the return of the fishermen to their welcoming families, with the final tableau showing a fisherman proudly displaying the pearl he had taken from the sea as fine reward for his long day’s labors.

The whole set took 50 minutes to perform and OSIRIS were accompanied by the folk group AL WEHDA TRADITIONAL YOUTH BAND who played on certain titles, contributing traditional rhythms on percussion instruments. The combination of the folk musicians and the rock musicians was considered a great success and was a perfect harmonization of electric and traditional music. During the show, OSIRIS used a large video screen to show images of the sea and of the fishermen’s’ daily lives. These shows would then conclude with a selection of songs from their first and second albums and also of new compositions. The concert was recorded live on an eight track but for various reasons were never released until 2010 when the tapes were found by chance and mastered.

From ‘Myths and Legends” to “Reflections”


The band then started work on their third album, but due to financial difficulties as mentioned earlier, they could not release it.

Osiris played a few concerts in 86 and 87 because of the lack of time, venue and funds. Yet, they refused to sell out and play commercial music to make ends meet. Rather they concentrated their efforts on limiting their performances to please appreciative music listeners, even if their number was limited. Making money was never the objective of Osiris, as creating good music and pleasing connoisseurs of their genre of music was important to them.

After recruiting the help of different temporary keyboardists, in 1987, the band found Nadir Sharif, who thought along the same lines of the other members of Osiris and shared with them the same concepts. Nader had studied music at the music academy in Bahrain and had previously played with commercial bands. During this period, the band arranged their new compositions incorporating Nader’s talents on keyboards. Around this time also, Khalid Al-Mutawa left Osiris to pursue other interests. He was immediately replaced by Ali Khonji, a young bass guitarist who had performed with several rock and heavy metal bands on the island.

In 1988, Sobah, the younger brother of founder members Mohamed and Nabil, returned from the United States after completing his studies there and joined the band as the vocalist. The band then thought of releasing their third album. To do so, they decided to cut down on expenses by foregoing help from recording studios. They also felt that if they controlled the way the music sounded, it would provide the right atmosphere to enhance the recording.

Consequently in 1989, the band recorded their third album using 8-track recording at home. At first, they tried to release it on vinyl as an LP, but could not afford it. So they released a few hundred copies on audio cassettes for promotional purposes. The feedback was great and their fans warmly welcomed their new release. This was encouraging to Osiris, as the album was yet to be released officially. Unfortunately, due to their private commitments and various other reasons, including the non availability of record producing companies locally which meant pressing them abroad, it did not materialize. This did not deter them however as they continued to record new tracks in their own studio for release in the future.

Osiris now

Although Osiris did perform a few concerts to sellout crowds between 1989 and 1993, the following years were not productive as some band members had to quit and Osiris stayed out of the public eye. The remaining members (Nabil, Mohamed and A.Razzak) continued work on new material and specifically on a new concept theme called “Visions from the Past”. This was until the year 200o when a new generation of accomplished musicians joined the band including Hadi Saeed (Bass), Martin Hughes (vocals and flutes) and Khalid Al-Shamlan (keyboards). The band performed once again on stage performing the new album to a sellout audience. During this period, Osiris also released a live album recorded direct and without any studio mixing from a 90s concert, to great reviews, titled “Beyond Control”.

Both Hadi and Martin left the band shortly but were replaced by new band members Ahmed AlQasim, a highly accomplished bass guitarist, and Ahmed “Rav”, a young dynamic vocalist, who, along with Khalid Al-Shamlan, added new dimensions to the music.With this line-up Osiris are back again to their best and have started work on new recordings including a live DVD and documentary.

 Members:

  • Mohamed Al-Sadeqi (lead guitar and vocals)
  • Nabil Al-Sadeqi (Drums)
  • A.Razzak Aryan (Keyboards)
  • Khalid Al-Shamlan (Keyboards, piano, backup vocals)
  • Ahmed AlQasim (Bass guitar, backup vocals)
  • Ahmed Ravanbakhsh (Main Vocals)

 

Ex Members:

  • Mohammed Al Shafee
  • Isa Janahi
  • Subah Al Sadeqi
  • Debbie Moss
  • Ali Khonji
  • Nader Sharif
  • Nader Rafeii
  • Khalid Al Mutawa
  • Jalil Abdulla
  • Sami Al Jamea
  • Martin Hughes
  • Hadi Saeed