Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pop and Rock Music in the 60s A Brief History

The Roots of Rock 'n' Roll:

In 1945, World War II ended. By 1946, American servicemen began returning home to start up the families they had had to put on hold for 4 years. Thus began the unusually large bubble in the population curve of America known as the Baby Boom, as gazillions of babies were born all of a sudden in the span of five to ten years. Remember that all those babies born in 1946-1947 would be 18 in 1964-1965 (and eventually 22 and out of college, and into the marketplace in the early '70's, to kick off the Me Decade). What that means is that American society would suddenly find itself catering to a generation of young people in a way that had never occurred before.

Sixties rock finds its roots in several places, starting as far back as the big swing bands of the pre-war era that the 60's kids' parents listened to as youngsters: Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, and Duke Ellington's bands are some of the most famous. Except for Duke Ellington, all those bands were primarily dance bands, with big swinging backbeats. You can still hear some of their greatest hits today in such unusual places as the Chips Ahoy commercial (1,000 chips in every bag).

There were also the smaller, "rhythm combo" groups, usually of only four or five players. Their tunes were popular on the jukeboxes of the day, but were not considered artistically important which is why we have mostly forgotten them today. The recent Broadway show "Five Guys Named Moe," which highlights the career of Louis Jordan, tells about one of the most popular rhythm combos of the day. Nat King Cole also had a small jazz combo that had popular success, before he became a Sinatra-style pop ballad singer in the '50's.

Then there was Country & Western--especially what was called "Texas Swing," of which Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys was the king. Hank Williams Sr. was another important singer/songwriter of that era and genre.

Over in Memphis there was Sam Phillips and his Sun Studios, where rockabilly and Elvis Presley were born. Besides Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison all began their recording careers at Sun Studios.

Two other sources of modern rock'n'roll, absolutely essential to the sound we think of as 60's rock, were, first, the Blues. Blues began as the music of black sharecroppers in the poor cotton-farming region of the Mississippi Delta, and traveled north to Chicago with the sharecroppers as thousands of them moved north in search of a better life. It was in Chicago that the blues went from acoustic solo guitar music to electric guitar-electric bass-drums combos. Muddy Waters, Little Milton, B.B. King, and Howlin' Wolf were just a few of these important Chicago blues artists.

The last source of modern rock'n'roll is actually a single man. Les Paul was a studio whiz and guitar player who designed the Gibson Les Paul electric guitar, and pioneered the technique of overdubbing, allowing one person to play more than one part on a recording. Working with his wife Mary Ford, who sang the vocal parts, Les Paul created a series of two-person recordings that sounded like an entire band was playing--and the music was all guitar-based.

The 1960's Begin:

As the late fifties gave way to the early sixties, the rockabilly stars of the previous decade (the Everlys, Elvis, Roy Orbison) were still having hits, but the older pop-music stars were fading away as they struggled to find material that would click with this new and energetic generation of kids. Pop music gradually became controlled by new young "vocal"-groups, taking their power from a combination of the performer's charisma along with the songwriting talents of the production team, who operated behind the scenes. Eventually rock artists came to be expected to write and even produce their own songs, becoming responsible for everything about how their records sounded--but that would have to wait for Marvin Gaye, Brian Wilson and Lennon & McCartney.

In general there were four main pockets of early 60's pop:

the East Coast DooWop and girl groups were singers and groups whose origins are in the streetcorner a cappella groups found in many urban centers. With very rare exceptions, these groups did not write their own songs, but relied on their handlers to set up the recording sessions, pick the material, and produce the records. In fact, many of these behind-the-scenes people eventually became stars in their own right in the seventies.

The R&B and Soul scene included many talented people who often didn't receive the popularity of less-talented white groups, because of barriers and prejudices against buying "race" records. Later in the decade, after the British groups acknowledged their debt to soul music, and as the civil rights movement inspired black pride, the general American public rediscovered these performers.

the California scene was first dominated by instrumental surf groups like the Surfaris, the Crossfires, and Dick Dale & the Del-tones. Dale, the "King of Surf Guitar," in particular helped define how modern rock guitar solos would sound. Then the Beach Boys added vocal harmonies to the surf sound. This surf-&-drag, fun-in-the-sun sound was so popular that the style showed up all over the place, even in tv theme songs such as the Munsters and Hawaii Five-O. But the real important stuff was happening in the recording studios, where young studio wizards like Brian Wilson, Phil Spector, and the team of Sloan & Barri began turning the studio itself into their instrument, looking for new sounds in a quest not for records but for productions. There were studio svengalis back east, too, including Bob Crewe and the team of Burt Bacharach & Hal David. Modern artists like Prince, Lindsey Buckingham, and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis who use synths and samplings, are rather like the spiritual descendants of those white suburban teenagers, taking their distinctive sound with them regardless of the particular artist they happen to be working with.

The Motown record label in Detroit was founded by Berry Gordy Jr., and while its recording stars were all black, still you couldn't necessarily call this totally black or "soul" music. Instead, Gordy controlled the performing styles, clothes, even hairdos of his artists, grooming them for success in the wider mainstream (read white) American audiences. The label's slogan, "the sound of young America," and their nickname, "Hitsville USA" point to the wide net that Motown attempted to cast. Among the many successful performers who recorded for Motown, one ought to mention Marvin Gaye, who was first to take control of his own career and insist on artistic control over his recordings. Later Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson would also prove to be outstanding writers and producers, but Marvin Gaye was the first at Motown.

The British Invade:

With 1963 comes the end of rock'n'roll and the beginnings of "rock." Of course, in 1963 John Kennedy was assassinated, and his vice president Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president. Soon LBJ escalated the United States' involvement in Viet Nam and declared war on poverty as part of his Great Society program, a systematic widening of the government's powers that required higher taxes and spurred ruinous inflation. Meanwhile, the televised police beatings of members of Martin Luther King's nonviolent Civil Rights movement made it plain to many people that the powers that be were not necessarily interested in protecting people's human and constitutional rights. Thus it wasn't long before the youth of America was finding itself deeply questioning its country's leaders. A large part of the innocence went out of pop music. And then came the British.... The Beatles were merely the most visible of the many British music acts that found success in America in the mid-60's. Many people count the Fab Four's landing at La Guardia airport on February 7, 1964, and their performance on the Ed Sullivan Show a week later, as the official beginning of what came to be called the "British Invasion." The Beatles were hugely popular; at one point they had the top five records on the Billboard Hot 100 list. Their sound and attitudes influenced everything that came afterwards--even today, when kids sing along with pop tunes on the radio and sing soft Britty "r's", they're unconsciously mimicking the English sound. Like the killer meteor that caused mass extinctions 65 million years ago, clearing the way for a whole new evolutionary path based on mammals instead of reptiles, the British Invasion killed off almost all the existing American groups (only the Beach Boys, Four Seasons, and the biggest Motown acts managed to survive). In their place rose up all sorts of American groups who dressed and sounded just like the Brits, as for instance the Knickerbockers, Beau Brummels, Buckinghams, Sir Douglas Quintet, and Turtles--before the Turtles became famous they used to hang out at bowling alleys and order tea with plenty of milk, speaking in fake English accents and trying to pass themselves off as Gerry and the Pacemakers. Then the folkies went electric. For this the great turning point was 1965, at the Newport Folk Festival. Bob Dylan turned up to perform with an electric guitar, and was practically booed off the stage, but he had shown the new path for folk music. And the Byrds had their first big hit with Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man," using that record to show how folkie songs could be built on a Beatle-esque sound (the first time group founder Roger McGuinn saw the Beatles on tv, he went right out to buy a Rickenbacker 12-string guitar just like George Harrison's). From Songs to Productions: Rock'n'Roll's death and the Birth of "Art Rock": The next two years, from 1965 to 1967, saw the most amazing experiments and changes in rock music ever. The simplest way to watch those changes is to review the back and forth record releases by the Beatles and the Beach Boys, perhaps the two most innovative recording groups of the mid 60's. Back in 1964, these groups produced such fun energetic pop as:

A Hard Day's Night I Get Around
By 1965 these groups became more studio-oriented and less interested in performance-friendly songs. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys had a nervous breakdown while on tour at the beginning of 1965, so he stopped touring and concentrated on working in the studio. John Lennon and Paul McCartney of the Beatles also became more interested in the production angle, collaborating more with their longtime producer George Martin.

Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) God Only Knows
Michelle Pet Sounds

In 1966 the Beatles announced that they would no longer tour at all and retired full-time to the recording studio. John was particularly interested in using recording tricks in Beatles songs, and the subject matter of their songs was becoming more and more openly radical. Brian, meanwhile, was now working completely with studio musicians, often using 25 musicians at a time in what was in effect the first rock-orchestra. He stopped writing songs in the traditional manner, instead "constructing" songs out of recorded bits and pieces (pre-dating Todd Rundgren's recent forays into "interactive music" by 25 years).

Eleanor Rigby Good Vibrations
Love You To Heroes and Villains
Tomorrow Never Knows Cabinessence

1967 saw the release of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the Beach Boys' Smiley Smile. Sgt. Pepper was a complete and revolutionary album, full of weird effects and songs about drugs. Smiley Smile was also a revolutionary album, full of weird effects and songs about drugs. But it was not a finished album. Brian went through another breakdown, this time caused by LSD, and the album he released wound up a pale imitation of what he had intended to produce. Sgt. Pepper became the anthem for 1967's "Summer of Love;" it was the height of flower power, arty progressive music that seemed to influence the social fabric, and of the youth movement's naive sense that a new age was about to dawn.

Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds Fall Breaks and Back to Winter
Within You Without You Wind Chimes
A Day In The Life Vegetables

1968 & 1969: The Unraveling:

No sooner had 1967's "summer of love" passed than it all started to come undone in 1968. In that year both Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated. LBJ had so escalated America's involvement in the Viet Nam conflict that across the nation's campuses students were rioting, while the "war on poverty" seemed to be going nowhere. The constant criticism from every corner finally convinced Johnson not to run for re-election. There were riots in the inner cities of many urban centers around the country (which would continue to occur each summer for the next several years). The civil rights movement gave up its nonviolence philosophy as SNCC was taken over by radical extremists; in Oakland the Black Panther movement, the extremest of the extreme, was born. Richard Nixon was elected president, and Ronald Reagan was elected governor of California; both ran on strong law-and-order campaigns.

Rock music took a step back from its drug-fueled experiments of just a year before, and turned to less-experimental sounds, while the topics became angrier. Creedence Clearwater Revival was the most successful of the roots rock groups, with hits ranging from "Green River" and "Proud Mary" to the ferocious anti-Viet Nam song "Fortunate Son." Even mainstream acts like Elvis Presley and the Supremes released protest songs. The Yardbirds broke up, and Led Zeppelin, the quintessential seventies hard rock band, grew up out of its ashes (that was also the year that the first version of Pink Floyd appeared, although it would still take a couple years of tinkering with the line-up to create the progressive-album-rock juggernaut that would reign over the FM airwaves in the next decade). Finally, the rise of the Black Power movement helped spur soul music to heights of popularity never before experienced. Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin became major stars.

The next year, 1969, saw two important rock festivals, Woodstock in August and Altamont in December. While people tend to remember Woodstock fondly because the hippies were mostly able to organize and run a 450,000-person three-day festival with few major problems, in retrospect its overwhelmed facilities (only 200,000 had been expected) and lousy weather were a symbol that Woodstock was in reality the end of an era, not the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Only a few months later, at a concert in Altamont, California, (which was documented in the movie "Gimme Shelter,") a fan was knifed to death in the audience as the Rolling Stones performed on stage.

In 1969, Charles Manson and his gang were living in Beach Boy Dennis Wilson's house, sponging off Dennis and using his credit cards. Manson was writing songs and trying to break into the music business. At the same time he was also trying to build up a new religion with himself as God, with followers who were willing to do his bidding. Musically, he got as far as to get the Beach Boys to record one of his songs ("Never Learn Not to Love," on the album 20/20), before Dennis got fed up and kicked him and his gang out. A month later, Manson and his followers committed the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders. The grizzly multiple murder was part ritual sacrifice to show loyalty to Manson, and part warning to the music business not to mess with Charlie (a producer used to own the house in which the murders took place). One of the clues that led to their finally being caught was the fact that Manson had smeared "Helter Skelter" (a Beatles song title from the White Album) in blood on the walls at the scene of the crime. Seems like '60's rock no longer pointed the way to a better world.

By the end of 1969, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, and Jimi Hendrix had all died of drug overdoses. In England, the Beatles produced a documentary ("Get Back") that had been meant as a kind of new start for the group, but which instead showed how the boys could barely stand to be in the same room with each other anymore. In America, on the tiny island of Chappaquiddick off Martha's Vineyard, Senator Edward Kennedy was involved in a car crash in which a young woman died. The bizarre and ambiguous circumstances surrounding the fatal accident put a stain on the remaining Kennedy brother's reputation that he was never able to shake.

In 1969 Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, but when that singular moment in the history of mankind was announced at an Earth-bound rock festival, the self-absorbed audience booed the news. A year later, the Beatles broke up and Diana Ross left the Supremes; one year after that, Berry Gordy moved his Motown operations from Detroit to Los Angeles. The musical decade of the sixties was over.


1950's pop music
the "popular vocalist" type such as often recorded in Los Angeles for Capitol Records, Frank Sinatra, Nat "King" Cole, Peggy Lee, Jo Stafford, The Four Freshmen, Patti Page, Bobby Darin, Tony Bennett

Rhythm'n'Blues, Rockabilly

"Race" music (which eventually became soul music)
Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Roy Orbison, Sam Cooke, The Coasters, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Billy Haley & The Comets, The Everly Brothers, Rickie Nelson, Little Richard, LaVern Baker.

Indian Classical Music

Indian classical music is based on the ragas ("colors"), which are scales and melodies that provide the foundation for a performance. Unlike western classical music, that is deterministic, Indian classical music allows for a much greater degree of "personalization" of the performance, almost to the level of jazz-like improvisation. Thus, each performance of a raga is different. The goal of the raga is to create a trancey state, to broadcast a mood of ecstasy. The main difference with western classical music is that the Indian ragas are not "composed" by a composer, but were created via a lengthy evolutionary process over the centuries. Thus they do not represent mind of the composer but a universal idea of the world. They transmit not personal but impersonal emotion. Another difference is that Indian music is monodic, not polyphonic. Hindustani (North Indian) ragas are assigned to specific times of the day (or night) and to specific seasons. Many ragas share the same scale, and many ragas share the same melodic theme. There are thousands of ragas, but six are considered fundamental: Bhairav, Malkauns, Hindol, Dipak, Megh and Shree. A raga is not necessarily instrumental, and, if vocal, it is not necessarily accompanied. But when it is accompanied by percussion (such as tablas), the rhythm is often rather intricate because it si constructed from a combination of fundamental rhythmic patterns (or talas). The main instrument of the ragas is the sitar, although historically the vina zither was at least equally important. Carnatic (Southern Indian) ragas constitute one of the oldest systems of music in the world. They are based on seven rhythmic cycles and 72 fundamental ragas. The founder of the Karnataka school is considered to be Purandara Dasa (1494). Carnatic music is mostly vocal and devotional in nature, and played with different instruments than Hindustani music (such as the mridangam drum, the ghatam clay pot, the vina sitar as opposed to sitar, sarod, tambura and tabla). The fundamental format of Carnatic songs is the "kriti", which are usually set in the style of a raga (the raga serves as the melodic foundation). The golden age of Carnatic music was the age of Syama Sastri, who died in 1827, of Tyagaraja, who died in 1847 and who composed the Pancharatna Krithis as well as two "operas", Prahalada Bhakti Vijayam and Nauca Charitam, and of Muthuswami Dikshitar, who died in 1835 after composing the Kamalamba Navavarnams and the Navagraha krithis.

Interest in Indian music (until then largely unknown in the west) was triggered by Bangladesh-born sarod player Ali Akbar Khan's 1955 concert in New York. Eventually, western curiosity for Indian music wed the hippy ethos and (thanks mainly to the Byrds' Eight Miles High) "raga-rock" became a sonic emblem of the Sixties. His album Music of India - Morning and Evening Ragas (1955), containing two side-long ragas (the traditional Rag Sindhu Bhairavi and his own Rag Pilu Baroowa), was the first Indian classical recording to appear in the West, and the first recording of ragas on an LP. The popularity of his and Shankar's concerts led to a stream of recordings in the Sixties, mostly featuring 20-minute long ragas: several EPs from 1961 to 1964, later collected on Sarod (1969), Traditional Music of India (1962), The Soul of Indian Music (1963), Ustad Ali Akbar Khan (1964), The Master Musicians of India (1964), Classical Music of India (1964), The Soul of Indian Music (1965), Sarod (1965), Two Ragas for Sarod (1967), etc. In 1967, Khan founded the Ali Akbar College of Music in the San Francisco Bay Area, to provide education in the classical music of North India. Among his later performances, there are still impressive ones such as Raga Basant Mukhari, off Artistic Sound of Sarod (1985). He remained faithful to his roots longer than other Indian performers, eventually experimenting with synthesizers on Journey (1991) and with instruments of the western symphonic orchestra on Garden of Dreams (1994), basically a raga symphony for a chamber orchestra.

Another disciple of Ali Akbar Khan's father Allaudin Khan, sitar player Ravi Shankar, would become the star of Indian music. He first toured the west in 1956, when he was already a veteran and made friends among pop stars (George Harrison of the Beatles became his student in 1966). Among his historical performances are his masterpiece Raga Jog, from Three Ragas (1961), the Raga Rageshri, on Improvisations (1962), and the Ragas and Talas (1964), containing the Raga Jogiya and the Raga Madhu Kauns. Improvisations (1962), a collaboration with flutists Paul Horn and Bud Shank, was the first meeting of jazz and raga. Shankar pioneered the "east-west" fusion with West Meets East (1967), a terrible collaboration with British violinist Yehudi Menuhin containing both a raga and a sonata. Shankar was also instrumental in turning the raga into a product of mass consumption (he performed at both the 1967 Monterey Festival, the 1969 Woodstock Festival and the 1971 Concert for Bangla Desh), but he soon repudiated his "pop" period and returned to classical music. Nonetheless, he continued to experiment with western music (he performed with western symphonic orchestras and soloists), and, later, starting with Tana Mana (1987), even with electronic keyboards. He is a composer, not only a performer, including two sitar concertos (the second, Raga-Mala, debuted in 1980).

After relocating to Britain in 1952, Indian violinist John Mayer, had already composed Raga Music (1952) for solo clarinet, a Violin Sonata (1955), the suite Dances of India (1958) for sitar, flute, tabla, tambura and orchestra, and a Shanta Quintet (1966) for sitar and strings. He formed the mixed-race ensemble Indo-Jazz Fusions with jazz saxophonist John Harriott. Mayer thus predated Shankar with Indo-Jazz Suite (october 1965) and the Indo-Jazz Fusions (september 1966), two albums (mostly composed by Mayer) recorded by a double quintet: Harriott's jazz quintet and an Indian quintet led by Mayer plus Diwan Motihar on sitar, flute, tambura and tabla. He pursued this idea on Hum-Dono (1969), featuring Indian guitarist Amancio D'Silva, trumpeter Ian Carr and vocalist Norma Winstone.

The same sitarist, Diwan Motihar, plus Keshav Sathe on tabla and Kasan Thakur on tamboura, recorded Jazz Meets India (october 1967) with a European quintet led by Swiss pianist Irene Schweizer and featuring German trumpeter Manfred Schoof and drummer Mani Neumaier.

Another precursor of the "east meets west" movement was Shankar's favorite tabla player Allah Rakha, who recorded a duo with jazz drummer Buddy Rich, Rich A La Rakha (1968).

Shankar frequently performed with tabla player Alla Rakha. His son Zakir Hussain, also a virtuoso of the tablas, came to the USA in the late 1960s and went on to star in two of the most progressive projects of world-music, Mickey Hart's Diga Rhythm Band: Diga (1976) and jazz guitarist John McLaughlin's Shakti. Hussain's Making Music (1987), featuring Hariprasad Chaurasia on bansur, Jan Garbarek on saxophone and John McLaughlin on guitar, was a milestone in jazz-Indian fusion.

In the 1970s Debashish Bhattacharya reinvented the Hawaian slide guitar as a raga instrument by addings resonating strings and droning strings and developing the lightning-speed three-finger picking technique displayed on recordings such as Raga Ahir Bhairav (1993).

TM, ®, Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

A younger influential sitar player in the "tantrakari ang" (the instrumental style of music) was Nikhil Banerjee (widely considered the century's greatest virtuoso), while "gayaki ang" (the vocal style) was represented by Vilayat Khan and, at the end of the 20th century, Shahid Parvez.

Instrumental masters (ustad) of other instruments included bansur (bamboo flute) player Hariprasad Chaurasia, particularly the Rag Ahiv Bhairav (1987) and the 69-minute performance of his Rag Lalit (1988), and violinist Lakshminarayana Subramaniam, devoted to jazz-Indian fusion on Garland (1978) and Spanish Wave (1983).

In 1989 John McLaughlin hired an Indian percussionist, Trilok Gurtu, the son of vocalist Shobha Gurtu, who had already played with Don Cherry and with Oregon. Gurtu's own Usfret (1988) offered an intense mix of Indian vocals, jazz-rock and world-music.

Ilaiyaraaja (born Gnanadesikan Rasaiya) experimented a fusion of Bach and raga on How To Name It? (1988).

Vocal music

However, Indian classical music is mainly a vocal (not only instrumental) art. "Khayal" emerged over the centuries as the vernacular (and romantic) version of "dhrupad" (the oldest extant vocal religious and aristocratic style). Both the sitar and the tabla were probably introduced (in the 18th century) to complement khayal singing. Miyan Tansen, who lived at the court of the Mughal emperor Akbar in the 16th century, is credited with codifying Hindustani (north Indian) vocal music, notably the dhrupad style that he learned from his teacher Swami Haridas. He composed the Darbari Kanada, Miyan ki Todi, Miyan ki Malhar and Miyan ki Sarang ragas. Among the greatest Hindustani vocalists before the partition of India and Pakistan were Bade Ghulam Ali Khan from Punjab and Amir Khan from north-central India. The greatest interpreters of "khayal" documented on record were probably the Pakistani brothers Nazakat Ali Khan and Salamat Ali Khan, who debuted in 1941.

A number of musical schools ("gharanas") developed in North India (Hindustan). The Patiala Gharana of Punjab has been one of the most influential schools (Ali Bux in the early 20th century, his son Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, and, in the 1990s, Rashid Khan). In the early decades of the 20th century Abdul Karim Khan created the Kirana gharana, while Alladiya Khan created the Atrauli-Jaipur gharana.

The austere, pure Pakistani-born vocalist Pandit Pran Nath, a master of the Kirana style since 1937, moved to the USA in 1970, performing the first morning ragas ever in the USA. His emphasis on perfect intonation and emotional subtlety influenced minimalist composers LaMonte Young and Terry Riley. He only recorded three albums: Earth Groove (1968), containing two traditional ragas, Raga Bhupali Maha Dev and Raga Asavari, Ragas Yaman Kalyan and Punjabi Berva (1972), containing his Raga Yaman Kalyan, Ragas of Morning and Night (1986), containing two 1968 compositions (Raga Darbari and Raga Todi). He also composed Raga Anant Bhairavi (1974), Raga 12-note Bhairavi (1979), Darbar Daoun (1987), and Aba Kee Tayk Hamaree (1989) for voice and string quartet.

Since 1973, the stormy voice of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan interpreted the hypnotic litanies of Pakistan's "qawwali" (sufi devotional music). His lengthy improvised vocal acrobatics are best represented by the colossal Ni Main Jana Jogi De and Yeh Jo Halka Halka Saroor Hai on The Day The Night The Dawn The Dusk (1991) and by the live performances of Intoxicated Spirit (1996). "Discovered" by Peter Gabriel, Ali popularized the style for the British audience with Shahen-Shah (1989). After the westernized format of Mustt Mustt (1990), basically electronic funk-rock with dub overtones, he delivered the four soaring tours de force of Shahbaaz (1991), accompanied only by droning harmonium and frenzied tablas, the Devotional and Love Songs (1993) with guitar and mandolin juxtaposed to harmonium and tablas, and The Last Prophet (1994), which focused on call-and-response group singing. He died in 1997 at 41, having recorded some 120 albums.

Vocalist Lakshminarayana Shankar has often wasted his talent in light, pop efforts, but at least Pancha Nadai Pallavi (1991), which features three fourths of Shakti, is a dramatic and austere work in the classical tradition.

Recommended Discography (7/10 and higher)

  • Ali Akbar Khan: Music of India - Morning and Evening Ragas (1955)
  • Ravi Shankar: Three Ragas (1961)
  • Zakir Hussain: Making Music (1987)
  • Trilok Gurtu: Usfret (1988)
  • Hariprasad Chaurasia: Rag Ahiv Bhairav (1987)
  • Pandit Pran Nath: Ragas Yaman Kalyan and Punjabi Berva (1972)
  • Lakshminarayana Shankar: Pancha Nadai Pallavi (1991)
  • Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: The Day The Night The Dawn The Dusk (1991)
  • Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: Shahbaaz (1991)
  • Debashish Bhattacharya: Raga Ahir Bhairav (1993)

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