Musical collaborations rarely get as unexpected as on the recently released Wise Up Ghost And Other Songs. The album is the product of British musician Elvis Costello teaming up with America’s Philadelphia-based hip-hop and R&B band, The Roots. The only thing I can find common between the two collaborators is that though both parties have, respectively, earned oodles of critical acclaim through their careers, neither has become as popular as I think they deserve to be. It’s a pity that more people don’t listen to either Costello or The Roots even though both are very, very influential musical entities.

Come together, right now: Questlove’s (right) drumming is refreshing and Costello often sings highly literate lyrics (Photo: Dan Hallman/AP)

Come together, right now: Questlove’s (right) drumming is refreshing and Costello often sings highly literate lyrics (Photo: Dan Hallman/AP)

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In a recent episode of Saturday Night Live, hosted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the American actor whose role as the young policeman, John Blake, in The Dark Knight Rises I liked, the musical guests were Mumford & Sons, an English indie folk band. They played two songs live—I Will Wait and Below My Feet—both from their recently released new album, Babel. Both the performances were nice. And I thought to myself that Mumford & Sons were probably better heard live than on albums. I’ve had a copy of Sigh No More, their debut album, for a couple of years but I must admit that although I liked listening to it the first couple of times, it soon got a bit clichéd, repetitive and whiney. Read more

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Three years ago, in this very space, I had raved about a blueswoman called Ana Popovic. A guitarist and singer, Popovic, 35, began playing the blues in Belgrade as a teenager but is now creating waves in the world of blues in the US and elsewhere in the world. And, last weekend, at the second edition of the Mahindra Blues Festival, Popovic was among the international blues greats who played in Mumbai. Those of you blues-lovers who were lucky enough to have heard her will probably agree with me when I say that she’s a blues artist who is worth tracking. Sadly, I missed the second day of the blues fest when she played, although I caught the first day’s gigs, which included one by the venerable Taj Mahal, now 69, and another by the flamboyant John Lee Hooker Jr., son of the late great John Lee Hooker. Read more

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Rarely have I known someone to be as passionate about music as was my friend Amitava. Incorrigible Deadhead and passionate lover of guitar jams, he’d drop by in office occasionally to check what I was listening to and pass me his pen drive for a top-up. I enjoyed feeding him new music; mainly because he would not only listen to the stuff I proffered but promptly provide feedback on the music as well as regularly on this column. Amitava ‘Goldie’ Guha passed away recently and I shall miss him sorely.

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