by Sam Hopkins
Gam’s office is filled with tapes and photos from throughout his years as a label impresario; a large, framed picture of him in the studio with Jil Jilala and friends sits right next to a black-and-white snapshot of Gam as a boy, along with his mother and baby brother.
But the Moroccan economy and Gam’s fortune turned negative in the ’80s. After halting new releases in 1980, Gam says 1986 to 1990 were the worst years he’s been in business. Most of the relatively wealthy French expatriates who lived in Casablanca for decades had moved back across the Mediterranean by that time, as had many thousands of middle-class Jews who lived in the neighborhoods near the shop. Even so, Gam didn’t shut down.
I went back and visited Gam to chat and buy some more music a few days after our first meeting, before I left on a bus to Fez. Like before, no other customers were in the shop, but there wasn’t a moment I didn’t see a smile on Gam’s aging face. If you go to Casablanca sometime soon, you’ll probably find Gam there just the same as I did—happy among his records and his memories.
Below, enjoy a mix of music picked up at Disques Gam, plus some additional photos.
“Samarkande,” Djamel Allam
“Laayoun Ainya,” Jil Jilala
“Qasidat el Hajj,” Koutoubiaphone
“Aouidny,” Ahmed Fakroun
“Moi, Je Suis d’un Pays,” Salim Halali
“Ghali,” Abdelwahab Doukkali
“Kukab al-Sharq,” Umm Kulthum