Tag Archives: India

[95] Asha Bhosle – The Rough Guide To Asha Bhosle

30 Jan

I finally understand what the people behind Cornershop were so excited about in their 1997 hit, “Brimful of Asha”.

The Rough Guide To Bollywood Legends

The Rough Guide To Bollywood Legends

This career retrospecitive (at least through 2003) of the “Most Recorded Artist in the World” spans half a century, and the listener can follow the twists and turns of popular music throughout the latter half of the 20th Century in the 16 songs presented here.

Despite being solidly routed in the Bollywood tradition these tunes, mostly taken from movie soundtracks, chart a course that reflects the big band swing of 50s musicals, 60s girl band sounds, and 70s Bond-theme-like grooves, all interspersed with more  traditional Indian ballads.

The range and scope is dizzying.

Ashaji’s voice is subtly assured throughout, never overpowering or truly flamboyant, and her control is such that you can’t help but listen to what she has to say.

Despite lacking knowledge of the language or the helpful hints that the movie visuals would provide, I find myself empathizing with the emotion behind each song even if I miss the specific meanings.

It is a beautiful mix of familiar and alien, and it is heartwarmingly universal.  Highly recommended.

Next Week:  Big Daddy Kane – Long Live The Kane

Owned before blogging? No. (9 of 95 = 9%)
Heard before blogging? No. (14 of 95 = 15%)
Recommend? Yes. (77 of 95 = 81%)

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[94] Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and Ry Cooder – A Meeting By The River

23 Jan

More even than Back In Black or Spiritual Unity, A Meeting By The River is the most perfectly titled recording to date.

A Meeting By The River

A Meeting By The River

This is a meeting on so many levels – a meeting of minds, of cultures, of musical traditions and styles.  Leave your preconceptions at the door.

It is not strictly Indian raga – it is never truly circular – and has only the barest hint of the blues.  It is meandering and contemplative and utterly its own animal.

Legend has it that these four tracks, led by Cooder on blues guitar and Bhatt on an 8-stringed instrument of his own creation, were captured in a single take with essentially no rehearsal.

They just sat down, turned on the mics, and played.

Based on just the lively spontaneity, I have no reason to believe this is not the truth.  Every moment is fresh and true, surprising and accomplished.

But based on the lack of planning and practice, the precision and complex interaction between the performers appears superhuman.  That music this intricate is essentially improvised is simply staggering.

Meeting . . . needs the right listening environment.  Playing it at work loud enough to appreciate bothered my coworkers, and it didn’t fare well over dinner at home.

In bed though, over headphones, focusing on every bend and slide, every detour, every idea and response, the sounds by the river are close to perfection.

Next Week:  Asha Bhosle – A Rough Guide To Asha Bhosle

Owned before blogging? No. (9 of 94 = 10%)
Heard before blogging? No. (14 of 94 = 15%)
Recommend? Yes. (76 of 94 = 81%)

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