Ananda Shankar / FUSION

Ananda Shankar-ANANDA SHANKAR-1970


Finally something for which I can emphatically, unequivocally state that it sounds right! Ananda Shankar, nephew of Ravi Shankar, was one of the first musicians to fuse Indian Classical traditions with 60-70’s Classic Rock motifs to create something which sounds unique to this day.

This self-titled album, released on Reprise Records created a lot of ripples back in the day, primarily I guess because of the excellent covers of “Light My Fire” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”. Both of them sound gorgeous by the way. He has added synths in the background and used the sitar to replicate the Kreiger and Manzarek lines. The song is short and I was a little disappointed that he did not delve into or improvise further upon the long Manzarek keyboard solo, but that would be nitpicking and I ain’t no nitpicker. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” is there in all its roots rock glory and the sitar only adds to the rock’n’roll feel of the song, not to mention the moog synths which are a nice little touch to an already awesome song. Oh, and then there are the backing vocals in the background if you listen really hard. Mamta (Hindi for Affection) sounds something straight out of the early Beatles catalog, it might as well have been on Rubber Soul for all the sweet pop sensibilities it displays. The wow factor here again is the sitar, this time playing a melody derived purely from Hindustani Classical. Ah, the beauty. Perfect fusion, ladies and gentlemen. The best song on the record, imho.

My next favorite is an interpretation of the famous religious hymn “raghupati raghav raja ram”, everyone fromIndiawould know what I am talking about, and I am sure your interest is piqued. To hear the classic refrain of “raghupati..” backed by bass guitar……kickass, kickass. Next we have the Tangerine Dream-esque “Metamorphosis” and “Snow Flower”, which makes me marvel at the fact that this guy was already exploring the boundaries of trance and electronica music in 1970, however the strands of synthesizers have been excellently merged with exquisite pieces of melody on the mridangam and sitar. The rest of the songs (Dance Indra and Sagar The Ocean) are more rooted in traditional Hindustani Classical gharanas about which I am not qualified to talk about but you can rest assured that they are awesome. So there you have it. A lost gem, uncovered for you by TDSR!!

Baba T  

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