When your week begins with a Dutch band called Samba Salad that sings a song referencing broccoli and the song is called Bloemkoolsamba, you can’t be blamed if you consider giving up for good your quest to discover new music. That’s exactly what happened last week when I heard a weekly theme-based podcast called the Contrast by a bunch of mp3 bloggers who choose a topic weekly and introduce their own takes on the songs they play related to the topic. I don’t know who chose ‘broccoli’ as a topic for the podcast that week but the bloggers were hard put to play songs on the podcast that referred to that particular vegetable. I ended up listening to crappy songs titled Mr Broccoli, Choppin’ Broccoli and also some themes from James Bond movies, the tenuous connection there being Albert R Broccoli who produced most of the Bond movies. I’ve written about the Contrast podcast before but this was the first time it disappointed. Read more

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There is nothing better than going to a live gig. I like the anticipation; the crowd; the hanging around before the band gets on stage to play. It is always a strange but happy feeling. You could be at a posh, replete with polished acoustics, audi to see a top-notch band for which you paid an unmentionable amount per pop or you could be at a crummy little bar (yes, with little by way of acoustics) in a South Delhi shopping complex where cowdung is one of many ethnic embellishments. It doesn’t matter. A live gig is a live gig. I remember the gigs we used to go to as teenagers in what was a very different Calcutta, at the Hindi High School auditorium on Moira Street, at the Kala Mandir on Theatre Road or even at the Parish Hall in the St. Paul’s Cathedral compound near the Maidan. We’d gather in excited bunches waiting to get in to watch the hot city bands of those times—High, Hellfire and Muff. Or to watch the talented Dylanesque Bertie da Silva or the late Dilip Balakrishnan whose solo work would have, if the world was a global village as it is now, stood out anywhere. Read more

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I cannot put my finger on the exact year, but sometime in the mid-1970s my musical preferences got skewed towards the genre known as psychedelic rock. Perhaps it was just a function of the then prevailing zeitgeist—after all, it wasn’t too long after Woodstock had happened (although I must confess I was too little when it actually had) and the thick odours of flower-power, psychedelia and all of that still hung heavily in the air. Also, I had a precocious habit of hanging around with friends who were a bit older than me and who were already into psychedelic bands and their preferences rubbed on to me. Read more

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My entry into the music of John Mayall, British blues pioneer and mentor of many great musicians, including Eric Clapton, happened sometime during 1974. I was in class 9 and an older friend had two albums (both of 1969 vintage), Turning Point, which was a live recording, and Empty Rooms, a studio effort. I remember two things that happened to me when I first heard those two (both were Polydor vinyls): a) I fell in love with the blues; and b) I couldn’t stop marvelling at the fact that Mayall (who played the harmonica, guitar and keyboards), while using guitarists, bassists and a flautist-cum-saxophonist, didn’t employ a drummer on either of the records and yet produced such a full sound. Read more

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