Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bill Summers & Summers Heat, "Jam the Box" (1981)

I love hand-drawn album covers. Homeboy definitely got his roller-ruler out for this one.
For track 1 side 1, percussionist Bill Summers and his dream team the "Summers Heat" attempt to lay out a manifesto for the album, first addressing the question of "what is the box?" before proceeding to "jam" said box for the remainder of the LP. Naturally, this is accomplished over a crunchy drum machine beat and wonderfully nasty synth bass.

On the other hand, their thesis is not expressed with a great deal of conceptual rigour:

We gave you a beat, dance and call it what you want to
La la la la, this is what you're dancing to
It does have a name, after all
It's The Box, that is what we call it

We call it The Box,
Makes you jump right out your socks
Don't stop
We've got a lot to saaaaaay

Summer Heat, if it takes you eight lines to inform me that I'm dancing to a box, I'm not surprised you got a lot to say.

Bill Summers And Summers Heat - We Call It The Box by doggziller

This track is a heater but it does get a bit repetitive and I would normally mix out half-way. So if you get bored, do make sure you fast forward to the five-minute mark where Bill Summers at last gets down to brass tacks and defines the meaning of "the box".

I guess it's some kind of outer-space box? Bill doesn't explain it all that clearly, really.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sonik Omi, "Sawan Bhadon" OST (1970)

As the lady waits without enthusiasm, the gentleman, struggling against the after-effects
of a stroke, attempts to grab her tit.
Back there in the early '00s a fad sprung up for Bollywood soundtracks among record collectors with an ear for groove. I still remember being stunned the first time I listened to a Bollywood mix put together by this guy (who hasn't updated his site since 2003 I note). I had to stream it with RealAudio 'cos those were the times and I was gob-smacked by the incredible eclecticism and exuberance of the music from composer/arrangers like RD Burman and the brothers Kalyanji Anandji. (Later, when I actually got my hands on some vinyl, I was gobsmacked again to realize that the audio quality was exactly as bad as that turn-of-the-century RealAudio stream, but I can live with that)

One of the nicer things about collecting Bollywood soundtracks is that they're actually not that "rare" - these are mainstream films for one of the world's largest populations after all - so getting hold of the heaters isn't as hard as you might expect, though during the peak of the fad e-bay prices for some soundtracks did get pretty silly. When Method Man and Busta Rhymes spat over "Dum Maro Dum", us diggers thought we would be riding this Bollywood shit all the way to the Grammys -  but even in nerd circles, fashion is fickle and soon enough attention moved on to the likes of Turkish psych-rock, Welsh acid-folk and harmonica music recorded by meteorite-riding bacteria that scientists believe may hold the key to understanding the origins of life on earth.

Sonik Omi - "Ankhen Meri Maikhana" by doggziller

Ah my darling, I tire of putting our faces real close but never actually kissing.
Let us consummate our love at last, by dancing together in front of a spurting fountain! 

Bollywood-style vocals are maybe an acquired taste for newbies - I built up an appreciation over long exposure when I owned a used car that had a radio locked on Hindi AM radio (also that car had but the one tape in it, which was Kool G Rap and Polo "Live and Let Die" - formative years for Yours Truly!)

The singer is of course Asha Boshle, because it is always Asha Boshle. I'm going to make up a statistic which is probably true - Asha does lead female vocals on 99% of all Bollywood songs from 1970-1990, which is also 14% of all songs, ever. She's now a granny and doesn't record quite so often - maybe only 50% of all Bollywood releases - but she still makes time to pop up in tracks like this one in which she displays a matronly concern for Aussie fast bowler Brett Lee's love life (shame for Brett that he was just a couple of years too early for AutoTune by the way - ah-cha!)

Finally, because we live in the Age of Wonders, you can also watch the pretty amazing scene that this song is used in: