Greatest Turkish Albums


1. Erkin Koray - Elektronik Türküler (1974) - 91/100

Genres: Anatolian Rock, Psychedelic Rock
Key Songs: Türkü, Karlı Dağlar

Quite possibly the greatest album ever from Turkish psychedelic maestro Erkin Koray – a mad blend of sounds that definitely lives up to its "elektronik" title! Most numbers feature a weird blend of electric guitar and baglama – used in a style that's similar to Koray's earlier Arabesk recordings, but in ways that are often more tripped out and free-thinking – almost in a groove that's similar to late 60s blends of Eastern influences and progressive rock in the US and Europe. There's a bit of vocals on the set, but the instrumentation dominates – and titles include "Sir", "Karli Daglar", "Cemalim", "Inat", "Hele Yar", "Turku", and "Korkulu Ruya".
 (Dusty Groove America)

2. Gülsin Onay - A. A. Saygun: Piano Concertos 1 and 2 (2008) - 90/100
Genre: Western Classical Music
Key Part: Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 34: Allegro assai
If you can imagine the combination of Bartók's alternately nocturnal and percussive keyboard writing (and scoring) married to the chromatic luxuriance of Szymanowski or Scriabin, then you have a good sense of what to expect from these two marvelous concertos. Saygun was without question a major composer, one of the last of the great ethnic nationalists. The influences of Turkish folk music have been fully absorbed into an evocative, personal idiom that has enough ties to Western tradition that aficionados of the great Romantic concertos won't lose their bearings while still savoring the many new, colorful, and atmospheric sounds that Saygun evokes.
The First Concerto dates from the 1950s, the Second (composed for the splendid soloist on this recording) from the 1980s. There's perhaps a touch more refinement to the scoring of the Second Concerto, but both are full of ear-catching ideas and offer plenty of virtuoso opportunities to the pianist. We probably won't get any more recordings of these pieces anytime soon, so it's a good thing that the performances here sound wholly fresh, idiomatic, and full of fire. I've been pushing Saygun's distinctive, masterful body of work for years, but if you haven't taken the plunge then this excellently engineered disc makes a great place to start.
(David Hurwitz, Classics Today)

3. Bülent Ortaçgil - Benimle Oynar Mısın? (1980) - 90/100
Genres: Singer/Songwriter, Contemporary Folk
Key Song: Anlamsız 
I can still smell that crisp foggy air, the morning of December 3rd, 1981. Birds were chirping, and cars were driving by (business as usual), but the world just seemed to stay still that day. Work the past week was difficult. I had meetings upon meetings, and I was another stack of papers away from just losing it. To benefit myown health, I decided to take a break. A break that would take me to the depths of the Sea of Love, and through the fiery pits of Hell, and spit me out feeling like an immortal being, who is truly weaker and more vulnerable than ever before...

The plane left that day. I escaped work midday and just rushed out to the airport. I sprinted through the terminal, determined to find what I was looking for. I eventually fought my way through, bumping each and every way, until I finally landed in my seat. It was coach, but I didn't care. As far as I was concerned, all of my cares were left in Washington. I stared out the window to the anguish, and agony I was leaving behind. My mind was in a different place. Turkey, here I come.

I didn't sleep once. My mind was working a hundred miles a minute while I subconsciously went through everything I left behind. My family--gone. My friends--gone. My TV, and other knick-knacks I bought out of all of those Sears catalogues--gone. For the first time in my entire life, I was alone in this world. I didn't have a future, and my past was gone. I couldn't hold it in any more. I just turned away from the crowd; planted my head against the window, and just started to cry. I could have sworn I cried all the way over the Atlantic Ocean, which was nothing more than a pool of tears by that point.

The plane landed in Istanbul early the next morning. The entire flight was a surreal experience for me, and when I stepped off, I didn't even know what the world would bring me next. I was so small, in a world so big. I was finally realizing that, 29 year into my life. First thing I did was hailed a cab, got a room at a local motel, and just crashed. I had the best sleep of my entire life that night.

The next morning, refreshed as a bug, I found my self a local cafe, and decided to eat some breakfast. It had been a couple of days since the last time I ate, so as you could probably tell, I was famished. I ordered a huge stack of Turkish pancakes, and by the time I was done with the first stack, I already had another one ordered. I saw my plate coming, and so I glanced up, and immediately just dropped my fork, and my jaw. The most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life was serving me food. I was dumbfounded, and I just ate my meal, and disappeared back into my motel room. I made the decision to keep going back there every single day, so I could see more and more of this woman.

The next day, I went back for breakfast again, and I just stared at her googly-eyed. This same routine continued for the next week, as I just watched this woman go back and forth, back and forth. Eventually (I believe it was the sixth day or so), as the waitress gave me my food and started to walk away, I told her to sit. I told her about how my trip was going, and basically made chit-chat with her. I could tell we were falling in love from the start, and I went home one happy man.

This routine continued on and on for the next few days, and by then, I really was getting to know her. Eventually I asked her out, and it was all easy sailing from there. We eventually ran off to her house, and then rushed into her bedroom, and...well, I'll just leave that up to your imagination. Hehe...

On Christmas day of 1981, I got on my knee, and I asked her to marry me. She said yes, and guess what album was playing? That's right, Benimle Oynar Mısın. I immediately demanded that they get me a copy of this album, because from that day on, it would officially be my good luck album.

We went to bed together that night, and the following morning, I awoke to nobody next to me. I found a note on the bureau that read:

"Dear Mik,

I'm writing this letter with tear filled eyes, for I cannot imagine a lifetime without you, but I must go. I can't tell you why, or how, but by the time you read this, I'll be long gone. Don't try to find me. I am so sorry... My heart belongs to you, and I want you to have it for the rest of eternity.

With love,

It was the last I would ever hear from her. I got a cab to the airport where I would get a ticket for a flight back to the United States. There wasn't an opening for three days, and I spent those three days sitting alone in my motel room; motionless and emotionless. A break from reality that would break me at my core. Life was over.

Three days later, I dragged myself through the rainy streets of Istanbul, ready to board my flight. I drudgingly took my seat, and remained motionless throughout the entire flight. My mind was gone, my heart missing; my body had become a emotionless robot. Although my body remained on earth, my heart died and went to Heaven with her on that dreary winter's day...

Each time I play this album, I think of her...

Now let's talk about the actual music, shall we? Bülent Ortaçgil's basic style is singer-songwriter folk stuff, sort of akin to Nick Drake (but he's much better than Nick Drake), or even Donovan. I don't speak Turkish, so I really can't comment on the lyrics at all, but some of these arrangements are really good. Mostly centered around acoustic guitar and sometimes accompanied by piano or horns, Bülent Ortaçgil beasts this album like no other. The best songs are "Sik Latife", "Yagmur", "Benimle Oynar mısın", and "Gunaydin".

And it turns out I listened to the entire album backwards. How great...

Oh, and by the way, I completely made that entire story up. Not a single bit of it was true. Heck, I wasn't even alive in 1981!
(Seattle Junkie Queen, RYM)

4. K. Karaca, U. Ergüner, M. Cemil, A. G. K., N. Sayın, C. Orhon...
Mevlana Serisi, Dede Efendi Saba Ayini
  (1963 - Recording Date, 1996) - 89/100
Genres: Turkish Classical Music, Sufi Music
Key Part: Saba Peşrevi 

5. Okay Temiz - Zikir (1981) - 88/100

Genres: World Music, Instrumental, Jazz
Key Song: Muş

6. Yansımalar - Yansımalar (1991) - 86/100

Genres: Instrumental, Sufi Music, World Music
Key Song: Sonbahar 
 “We wish to convey a piece of lucidity and tranquility in contrast to the complexity of life”

Yansımalar, translated as ‘Reflections’, is the collaboration of two Turkish musicians, Birol Yayla and Aziz Şenol Filiz. Fusing together traditional Turkish music with a more contemporary style, the simple chemistry between the two results in what is a wistful and ultimately beautiful piece of music, seemingly uncomplicated and effortless from the outset, but with a magnitude of depth to be uncovered within. As their first recording, Yansımalar is entirely live, with Yayla on his guitar and Filiz on the traditional reed flute, known as the ‘Ney’ in Turkish. Although Yayla plays a pivotal role in creating the backdrop upon which Filiz expands with the Ney, it is without a doubt Filiz who characterizes the beauty of Yansımalar; exemplifying the mystical and fluid surge that is traditional Turkish music, the Ney has an almost hollow sound, yet overwhelmingly shapes the album’s atmosphere. Moreover, and most importantly, the success Yayla and Filiz have in conveying various themes and moods is what really gives Yansımalar its appeal; languor aside, the grasp the two musicians have over really creating an enveloping atmosphere from the basic utilization of two instruments is astounding.

Yansımalar, in a nutshell, is a serene and graceful album; it breathes new life into a traditionally styled form of music, and has been the inspiration for many contemporary Turkish musicians. With a modern outlook that occupies both traditional and religious history, the album explores themes as trivial as Winter’s flowers (‘Kar Çiçekleri’), and as meaningful as friendship (‘Dostluk’), all while giving a deep insight into Turkey’s musical heritage. It’s timeless and peaceful, astutely reflecting a plethora of moods, and its impact as an album remains, and will remain, undiminished.

(Rasputin, Sputnik Music)

7. Selda - Selda (1976) - 85/100
 Genres: Psychedelic Folk, Anatolian Rock, Anatolian Folk Music
Key Song: Yaz Gazeteci Yaz

Unfamiliar with the Anatolian Joan Baez? So here it is: the long-awaited reissue of Selda Bagcan's 1976 eponymous debut. Long-awaited, that is, if you're an aficionado of Anatolian folk music and were equally thrilled by the recent appearance on CD of Mustafa Ozkent's Genclik Ile Elele. The rest of us must be grateful to record producer Andy Votel (whose credits include Badly Drawn Boy's Mercury Prize-winning debut), DJ and designer Dominic Thomas and record collector Doug Shipton. Their Finders Keepers label specialises in turning up extraordinary records from around the world from artists who have mostly long since retreated into obscurity: yes, it's them to thank for those Susan Christie and Bruno Spoerri albums, as well as Welsh Rare Beat, last year's compilation of Welsh prog (compiled with the help of Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals)

Later this month, the Barbican in London plays host to the first-ever live presentation of Jean-Claude Vannier's 1972 album L'enfant assassin des mouches, which was certainly some kind of lost masterpiece until Finders Keepers rediscovered it. The evening will also feature the music of Gainsbourg's Histoire de Melody Nelson and appearances from Badly Drawn Boy and Jarvis Cocker (so book now!).

And so to Selda, who was Turkey's answer to Joan Baez in the Seventies when she released her first record, an outspoken singer from the folk tradition. Unless your Turkish is up to scratch, the protest element may be lost on you, although the sleevenotes contain translations to half-a-dozen songs and they appear to be firecrackers.
'The sweat of the working-class amalgamates with the soil,' is how she kicks off the album, on 'Meydan Sizindir', before careering into a rousing chorus of 'Today is yours, but tomorrow is ours ... The universe is ours, friendship is ours, brotherhood is ours!'
It's the music, however, that's captivated Votel and co, one suspects, and in this respect 'folk' won't really wash as a descriptive term. Instead, it's all distorted saz, fuzzy guitars, swirling electronic effects and driving percussion, while Selda wails over the top. Some tunes are fast and heavy, others stretch out into something more filmic.
Yes, it's a kind of psychedelic, trippy prog that could only have been made in the Seventies, somehow. It's also an eye-popping reminder that 'world' music doesn't mean something recorded acoustically by two goatherds up a hillside.
(Caspar Llewellyn Smith, The Observer)

8. İlhan Mimaroğlu - Musiques Noires (1983) - 84/100
Genres: Electronic Music, Experimental
Key Part: Immolation Scene 

9. Nekropsi - Mi Kubbesi (1996) - 83/100
Genres: Progressive Rock, Experimental Rock, Post Rock
Key Song: Yollar 

10. Erkan Oğur and İ. H. Demircioğlu - Gülün Kokusu Vardı (1998) - 83/100
Genres: Anatolian Folk Music
Key Song: Zeynep 

11. Cem Karaca - Nem Kaldı? (1975) - 83/100
Genres: Anatolian Rock
Key Song: Namus Belası 

12. Erkan Oğur - Bir Ömürlük Misafir (1996) - 82/100
Genres: Anatolian Folk Music, World Music
Key Song: Mor Dağlar 

13. Fikret Kızılok - Zaman Zaman (1983) - 82/100
Genres: Singer-Songwriter, Folk Rock
Key Song: Zaman Zaman 

14. Cem Karaca and Edirdahan - Safinaz (1978) - 82/100
Genres: Anatolian Rock, Progressive Rock
Key Song: Şeyh Bedrettin Destanı 

15. Bülent Ortaçgil & Fikret Kızılok - Pencere Önü Çiçeği (1986) -82/100
Genre: Contemporary Folk
Key Song: Değirmenler 

16. Maffy Falay and Sevda - Jazz i Sverige '72 (1972) - 81/100
Genres: Jazz, Folk Music
Key Song: Karadeniz 

17. Erkin Koray - Erkin Koray (1973) - 80/100
Genres: Anatolian Rock, Psychedelic Rock
Key Song: Yağmur 

18. 3 Hür-El - Hürel Arşivi (1972) - 79/100
Genres: Anatolian Rock, Anatolian Pop, Psychedelic Folk, Psychedelic Rock
Key Song: Ağlarsa Anam Ağlar

Trippy rock from the three Hurel brothers of Turkey – a fuzzed-up, freaked-out trio that comes off with some great psychedelic touches! The sound here is a great blending of modes – similar to some of the other Turkish rock from the time that merged electric guitar with folkloric inspirations – but the overall Hurel groove is much more strongly progressive, and sometimes slightly funky at times – due to a tight set of rhythms at the bottom. There's a heaviness here that almost hits Cream-like intensity for the power trio – save for the fact that the lyrics instantly mark the work as being of non-Anglo origins, as do the eastern shadings in the use of guitar and some of the percussion. Titles include "Kol Basti", "Hoptirinom", "Yara", "Doner Dunya", "Agit", "Aglaras Anam Aglar", "Kucuk Yaramaz", and "Canim Kurban".
(Dusty Groove America)

19. Moğollar - Moğollar (1976) - 78/100
    Genres: Anatolian Folk Music, Anatolian Rock
    Key Son: Katip Arzuhalim Yaz Yare Böyle

20. Replikas - Köledoyuran (2000) - 78/100
Genres: Experimental Rock, Anatolian Rock
Key Song: Kuh

21. İdil Biret - Boulez: Piano Sonatas Nos. 1-3 (1996) - 78/100
Genre: Western Classical Music
Key Part: Piano Sonata No. 3: Commentaire 

22. Kani Karaca, Necdet Yaşar, A. G. Kutbay, Niyazi Sayın, Ulvi Ergüner
Mevlevi Rites / Mevlana "Enstrümantal" (2008) - 78/100
Genres: Turkish Classical Music, Sufi Music
Key Part: Bayati Taksim 

23. Kudsi Ergüner - Rembetiko From Istanbul (2001) - 77/100
Genre: Rembetiko
Key Song: Karabiberim 

24. Nevzat Atlığ, İstanbul D. K. T. M. K.
Genre: Turkish Classical Music
Key Song: Ey But-ı Nev Eda 

25. Baba Zula - Üç Oyundan Onyedi Müzik (1999) - 76/100
Genres: Psychedelic Folk, Experimental Rock
Key Song: Babasız Kızlar Balosu

26. Pentagram - Unspoken (2001) - 76/100
Genres: Heavy Metal, Progressive Metal, Folk Metal
Key Song: Unspoken 

27. Yansımalar - Pervane (2004) - 76/100
Genres: Instrumental, Sufi Music, World Music, Turkish Classical Music
Key Song: Pervane 

28. Cihat Aşkın and Mehru Ensari - Minyatürler (1997) - 75/100
Genres: Instrumental, Folk Music
Key Song: Sarı Gelin 

29. Moğollar - Danses et rythmes de la Turquie (1971) - 75/100
Genres: Anatolian Pop, Folk Rock, Progressive Pop, Anatolian Folk Music
Key Song: Madımak 

30. Ezginin Günlüğü - Ölüdeniz (1990) - 75/100
Genres: Pop Jazz, World Music
Key Song: Çocuğun Kurguları

Genres: Turkish Classical Music, Gypsy Music
Key Part::Nihavent Oriental

32. Münir Nurettin Beken - Art of the Turkish Ud (1996) - 75/100
Genre: Turkish Classical Music

Key Part: Çeçen Kızı 

33. Ahmet Sinan Hatipoğlu - Musiki (1993) - 75/100
Genre: New Age, Contemporary Folk

Key Song: Yirmibeşinci Kısım 

34. Yansımalar - Bab-ı Esrar (2000) - 75/100
Genres: Instrumental, Sufi Music, World Music
Key Song: Bab-ı Esrar 

35. Okay Temiz - Oriental Wind (1977) - 74/100
Genres: Jazz, World Music, Experimental
Key Song: Dere Geliyor Dere 

36. Fazıl Say - Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps (2000) - 74/100
Genre: Western Classical Music
Key Part: Second Part: The Sacrifice: Evocation Of The Ancestors 

37. K. Karaca, A. G. Kutbay, C.Koşal, S. Heper, D. Ergin, N. Uzel...
Music of the Whirling Dervishes (1979) - 74/100
Genres: Turkish Classical Music, Sufi Music
Key Song: Naat-ı Mevlana 

38. Mercan Dede - Su (2004) - 74/100
Genres: Sufi Music, World Music, New Age
Key Song: Ab-ı Hayat 

39. Erkin Koray - Erkin Koray 2 (1976) - 74/100
Genres: Anatolian Rock, Arabesque
Key Song: Hayat Katarı 

40. Levent Yüksel - Med Cezir (1993) - 74/100
Genres: Turkish Pop, World Music
Key Song: Tuana 

41. Özdemir Erdoğan - Canım Seninle Olmak İstiyor (1976) - 74/100
Genres: Turkish Pop Music, World Music
Key Song: Canım Seninle Olmak İstiyor 

42. Aşık Mahzuni Şerif - Yuh Yuh, Dertli Köyüm (1979) - 74/100
Genre: Anatolian Folk Music
Key Song: Nem Kaldı

43. Replikas - Avaz (2005) - 74/100
Genres: Experimental Rock, Anatolian Rock
Key Song: Zift 

44. Toros Can - Paul Hindemith: Piano Works (2008) - 74/100
Genre: Western Classical Music
Key Part: Suite, '1922' 

45. Şivan Perwer - Kine Em (1979) - 73/100
Genres: Folk Music, World Music
Key Song: Kine Em 

46. Taksim Trio - Taksim Trio (2007) - 73/100
Genres: Turkish Classical Music, Instrumental, World Music

Key Song: Derdin Ne 

47. Siddhartha - Trip to Innerself (2009) - 73/100
Genres: Progressive Rock, Space Rock
Key Song: Baroque

48. Sezen Aksu - Gülümse (1991) - 73/100
Genre: Turkish Pop
Key Song: Vazgeçtim 

49. Orhan Gencebay - Yalnız Değilsin (1994) - 73/100
Genre: Arabesque, Fusion Music
Key Song: Nihavent Üvertür 

50. MFÖ - Ele Güne Karşı (1984) - 73/100
Genre: Pop Rock
Key Song: Ele Güne Karşı

Honorable Mention

Yeni Türkü - Yeşilmişik
Ali Ekber Çiçek - Türküler
Nazan Öncel - Göç
Nur Yoldaş - Sultan-ı Yegah
Yavuz Çetin - Satılık
İhsan Özgen - Anatolia
Sertan Erener - La'l
Mustafa Kandıralı - Caz Roman
Zen - Bakırköy Akıl Hastanesi'nde
Edip Akbayram - Nedir Ne Değildir?
Barış Manço - 2023
Bülent Ortaçgil - Light