Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Various Artists, Mclaughlin/Shankar/Llussian, Shakti With John McLaughlin|
Best of Shakti
Genres: World Music, Jazz, Pop
Fabulous Indo-jazz fusion from a fun-loving foursome
Mr. Stuart Robert Harris | Bradford-on-Avon, UK | 05/31/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What did geeks do before there were microchips to absorb their time and devotion? They aspired to play awesome guitar, with the emphasis very much on technical skills. And among the many guitar idols of those days, few were revered as highly as John McLaughlin. He was the epitome of lightening fast runs and technical complexity, the awesome uber-geek. And that's a great shame, because there was and is a lot more to McLaughlin than geek-inspiring speed. In the mid-70s, McLaughlin made a logical progression from the amped-up power of the Mahavishnu Orchestra to the acoustic prana power of Shakti, in the company of three skillful Indian musicians. He switched his trademark twin-necked electric for a steel-strung acoustic with "sympathetic"strings and a "scalloped" fingerboard, which I presume means it has a deep action so that he could bend notes sitar-style. "The Best of Shakti" gives an inspiring taste of this fun-loving fabulous foursome.The opening track, "Joy" might be more aptly dubbed "Exhilaration". The Shaktis take great delight in bending and bouncing rhythmic and melodic phrases back and forth with huge energy for a breathless and all-too-brief 18 minutes The other tracks vary the pace, from brisk to meandering, but the interplay between these master musicians is always a delight.You don't have to listen out for fast - that's a given. Try instead tuning in to McLaughlin's rhythmic play, his intriguing broken chords, his angular runs, for the space he creates as well as the space he fills. Between them, percussionists Vikku and Zakir Hussein probably put out fewer raw decibels than Mahivishnu drummer Billy Cobham did. But what they lack in muscle power, they make up for in dexterity, swing and sheer playfulness. Violinist Shankar's swooping style is exhilarating although it might occasionally a tad too keening for listening after a heavy nightAll in all a wonderful collection that gets the toes tapping, the ears tingling and the spirit soaring."
Indian Music Meets Jazz!
James P. Zaworski | Shenzhen, China | 02/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The 1970s saw some of the most interesting experimental music of the 20th century. All at once, there was pop rock, progressive rock, pure jazz, blues, and the great experiment, that of fusion music. John Mclaughlin was one of the major movers and shakers of fusion, starting with his band called "The Mahavishnu Orchestra". This band was a hard-edged electric and electronic version of fusion music, and they put out some studependous stuff in their time. Near the end of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, John Mclaughlin went to India, and formed another group, called "Shakti". This group was to be a totally new experiment. In the past, groups such as the Beatles had played with eastern music, Indian music in particular. Mclaughlin himself had some definite influences from India, as evidenced by the name of his fusion group "Mahavishnu Orchestra". Shakti is the consort of Shiva in Indian Hindu Mythology. Whereas Shiva is the destructive force in the universe, he is balanced out by Shakti, who is female and whose attributes include strength and creativeness. It is an apt name for this creative and strenuous group. This time, he met up with, and joined forces with, three Indian musicians, all of whom were well known and well recognized in India. These musicians are Zakir Hussein, who plays tablas, L. Shankar, who plays violin, and T. H. Vinayakram, who plays the other persussive instruments, the ghatam and the mridangham. The meeting resulted in some of the most interesting, and powerful music, that I have heard. One would never think that jazz/fusion would meld with Indian music, but it definitely works! Shakti is totally intrumental and acoustic music. Shakti put out three albums in the 1970s, and have suddenly made a comeback in the late 1990s and early 2000s with a new group called "Remember Shakti". This particular compilation, a "Best of Shakti" , attempts to give the listener a nice representation of what Shakti sounded like.
It succeeds pretty well in that attempt, although I would remove a few of the longer tunes for several of shorter ones that are better.
Review of the Highlights of "Best of Shakti". 1. "Joy". This is a 20 minute free-for-all! "Joy" is a live recording, from Southhampton College, Southampton, New York on July 5, 1975. What Shakti is all about is evident from this song: total creative power, energy, fusion, dazzling solo ability, excellent and wonderful timing, and just the sheer unspeakable power of music! Zakir Hussein thanks the audience for being here, then they take off on a venture of musicality that you won't believe! Mclaughlin plays the same theme as L. Shankar on the violin, as Zakir Hussein and Vikku jam on percussion. It is incredible how much stamina all of these musicians have, it seems they don't get, nor can't get, tired or fatigued, while playing these incredible 64th notes whizzing up and down the scales with unbelievable speed. During this long live song, there is no room for mistakes, to be sure, and man, they don't make any musical errors, and, quite the contrary, perform so tightly that you would think they had performed together for 20 years, rather than their first performance. I have seen the acoustic guitar that Mclaughlin uses in Shakti, and it is a typical six-string, but it has these other strings that cross over the main strings, and Mclaughlin plays them at the same time, or uses them for emphasis at the ends of his many dazzling solos. Did I say solos? There is so much room in these 20 minute songs, that there are many solos. Mclaughlin does a 7-9 minute one in the middle of this that will leave you breathless! Needless to say, this song, called "Joy", really aptly displays how these musicians feel about their music, and about life in general. From the photos I have seen of this live performance, and from what my brother has told me(he saw them during this 1975 concert tour), Mclaughlin plays the entire concert in a yoga position. Interesting. Infective, inventive, and fast paced, I believe you will agree. 2. "Bridge of Sighs". This is a studio recorded song. It is a much different song than the previous one. This one is slower paced, full of counterpoint, and is highly reflective of the group's abilities in playing all kinds of interesting music. Mclaughlin really shows he can bend the strings on the acoustic guitar he plays here, and at times, has the ability to play and sound like a sitar. There are some times during this song that there are some flurries of speed, but it is mostly a soft, slower tempo song than most Shakti songs. You also get a nice sound of the ghatam, which is a clay pot that is heated to help it achieve the deep "boom" that permeates the song. It is a shorter song, only about 3 minutes, and I like it a lot. 3. "Mind Ecology". Another studio song, this tune comes from the recording "Natural Elements" originally. A jews harp starts the song, and sets the time during the whole thing, as do the tablas and ghatam. Violin and acoustic guitar play back and forth in unison and in syncopation, counterpointing the main theme of this positive and fast-paced track. Mclaughlin really jams in this one, as does L. Shankar, on his oh-so twangy violin. You will want to preserve your "Mind Ecology" when you play this one! It is simply brilliant! 4. "India". Another long one, this is again a studio recording from "Natural Elements". We start out with John Mclaughlin soloing on his unique acoustic guitar, but in a slow tempo.
He does a nice job of bending strings in a very cool "Indian" style, whilst simultaneously "tuning" his guitar up and down. This goes on for about 2-3 minutes, and is kind of nice. When he finishes, and "tunes up" again, the whole band joins in, and treats us to yet another long and powerful, yet melodic, acoustic song of brilliant fusion fury. This tune has lots of reflective and soft melodies in it, and is a nostalgic look at India the country and culture. The middle of the tune is classic Shakti--fast, furious, full of energy, speed, and is sheer blissful fusion. Fantastic! 5. "La Danse du Bonheur". This tune comes from the CD "Handful of Beauty", which is one of my favorite Shakti recordings. This track starts out with Zakir and Vikku doing a back and forth on vocals in what I think is Hindi, but I am not sure. It is cool, though, and is the only time you will hear any vocals on this compilation(they do a little more of this on some of their other recordings, but not much). This one is my favorite of this CD, as it is so much fun! The guitar and violin, helped by the tablas and ghatam, build up in a crescendo of synchronized fusion as to almost get you so happy that you will explode in musical delight! The main theme on which we build is like that. The soloing is brilliant! L. Shankar solos first on violin, as Mclaughlin keeps time. In my most humble dreams, I wish I could play lead acoustic guitar as well as Mclaughlin "keeps time"! L. Shankar does some lengthy and brilliant soloing here, that is both musically and technically complex, and sounds great. Mclaughlin also plays some damn fine guitar in this tune as well. It is 6 1/2 minute track that is the best of this "Best of" CD. The Best of Shakti" is a great introduction to the music of Shakti. It has some great representative songs on it that are fantastic. It does achieve, to a certain extent, a "best of" compilation and feel, even though two of the very best Shakti tunes are missing. I recommend it to anyone seeking new, interesting, unusual music, and to lovers of true music in general. You won't be disappointed!"
Ultimate Rating...but..dont buy this....
sythan | Bangalore, Karnataka India | 06/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"..if you're a serious music freak. The tracks on this CD are like different heroines from different tales. Good to buy if you have all their other releases...and it makes so much sense then to listen to the tracks..different muses..different worlds.
But with eastern mysticism one has to realise it is the entire journey that matters and not just the goal..so if you're not the "shakti for Dummies" type of person stay put till you buy all their other cds because each of Shakti" albums are strories with deep meaning both as pure music and the mental state of the musicians at that time...you'll realise that when you hear their later live releases in the Remember Shakti series. Else it'll be like taking " Mother " out of Pink Floyd"s Wall .....or "thick as a Brick" from Jethro Tull"s album of the same name...it doesn't make sense does it.
But then for a casual music buff..who goes by the very economics of " the best of..." CDs..its definitely a 5 star buy."