Earlier this month, while listening to Pink Floyd’s new (and, probably, final) album, Endless River, I realised wistfully how long it has been since I last heard the albums by that iconic British band who were the pioneers of a genre that got named progressive rock. Read more

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Tucked away deep in the recesses of the iTunes store, I found a 2-CD compilation named The Psychedelic Salvage Company. In it was a set full of songs by bands that I’d barely heard of. Dating back to the 1960s and 1970s, these were bands that were part of the British underground wave of psychedelic rock during those two decades but not quite the ones I was familiar with. Instead of Pink Floyd, Traffic, Cream or Soft Machine, this compilation had bands such as Toby Jug, Peggy’s Leg, Out of Darkness, Ptolomy Psycon, The Roland Kovac Set, and Sam Gopal. Strangely named bands all of them but with one common thread: they made music that sounds deliriously trippy. Music that immediately conjures up images of groovy bell-bottoms, peace signs, platform shoes and droopy moustaches. They have another common factor: all of those bands are among the early vanguard of the British prog-rock movement. Read more
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The first time I tried to watch Martin Scorcese’s Hugo I did so on an aircraft, on the piddly little screen on the back of the seat in front of mine in the economy section. Bad decision. Hugo is Scorcese’s first film shot in 3D and a tiny screen in the cramped confines of an airline seat does it no justice.

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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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I think it was some time in 2002 that a tech-forward friend dropped by to show off his newly-acquired toy, an iPod. It was a first-generation model with a capacity of 10 gigabytes. That meant, he bragged to me, that he could carry in his pocket 2000 songs and listen to them via a pair of white ear-buds anywhere he wanted to. “Just listen to the sound,” he gloated, “it’s like carrying an entire library of music with you.” I was skeptical (and, I must admit, a bit of Luddite too) when I popped the ear-buds in and heard his classic rock selections. I think it was Cream’s SWLABR (which deliciously expands into She Was Like A Bearded Rainbow, circa 1967) that got piped in first and I complained about how the bass was muted; the treble was tinny and so on. “Go away and take that stupid iPod with you,” I sneered. Read more

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Now that the headline above has managed to offend some readers who’ve turned their noses up in disgust and gone over to the next page, I can start my bigoted rant. Only, it’s neither bigoted nor is it a rant. It’s a rave actually, about bands that have the word “Black” in their names. How many of them have you come across? Countless, right? I sure have. Beginning with Black Sabbath (sorry, I promise that I shall not mention their name again; okay, maybe once more towards the end and that’s all) and moving to The Black Keys, Black Mountain, Black Crowes, Black Angels, Black Eyed Peas, Black Lips, or even simply Black. I did a search for bands with Black in their names and came up with a list that could possibly fill up several pages of tightly printed text. What is it, really, with bands and the word Black? Read more

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It began a couple of weeks back when, to mark Jerry Garcia’s death anniversary, I wrote a piece remembering my own dalliance with the music of Garcia and his erstwhile band, The Grateful Dead. For much of the next couple of weeks, I found myself delving deeper and deeper into music that I’d first heard decades ago. I fished out a DVD (a gift from a friend) of Blind Faith’s concert in Hyde Park in 1969; I rummaged through my music collection to look for Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats (1969); I found a New Riders of The Purple Sage album, The Adventures of Panama Red (1973) that I hadn’t heard in ages and so on. In other words, I turned retro. But it wasn’t too long before I was jolted out of my nostalgia-laden reminiscing by some astoundingly good new music. Read more

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Pink Floyd released The Dark Side of the Moon in 1973 and it became an instant hit, selling 45 million copies and remaining on the Billboard charts for 741 weeks, which is a record that is still unbroken. I don’t know how many million people have tripped on Dark Side over the past 37 years. I know I did back in the mid-1970s. And although I don’t really like Pink Floyd very much (except maybe for 1967’s The Piper At The Gates of Dawn, the only album released while the band was still helmed by Syd Barrett), it was de rigueur in my high school days (yes, yes, in the 1970s) to own a copy of the album, which, incidentally, I still do—on vinyl, on cassette and on CD. It’s a different matter that I can’t recall when was the last time I took any of these out and played them. Read more

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Last week, on a self-indulgent nostalgia trip I had recreated one of my playlists dating back to 1976 and put the ‘Crosby, Stills & Nash’ track Wooden Ships on it. My colleague and Brunch columnist, Vir Sanghvi, was quick to observe that probably the Jefferson Airplane version of the song, featured on the band’s
Volunteers album, was a better one.  Read more

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