It's sort of a great, "lost" Frank Zappa album!
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1979, Frank Zappa took a shine to an Eastern Indian rock/jazz violinist, L. Shankar. So much so that he produced an album with him, "Touch Me There." Not only does Frank produce, but he also co-writes half of the album and performs on one cut, "Dead Girls of London." So, not surprisingly, this disc sounds like much of the material Zappa was releasing around that time, even though it is technically a "Shankar" album. And, it sounds like a GOOD Zappa album - many of these cuts would feel right at home on late '70s/early '80s titles like "Studio Tan," "Ship Arriving Too Late...," "Lather," "Sleep Dirt," "You Are What You Is," etc. Of course, you must have some degree of musical adventurousness to appreciate the disc - imagine Frank's instrumental rock-jazz-classical fusion with violin solos featuring distinctly Raga Rock/Eastern phrasing. So, if you're open to it, it's great! Shankar's playing is incendiary and the rest of the band is ridiculously tight. "Dead Girls of London" is the most out-and-out Zappa-sounding tune, featuring Zappa vet Ike Willis and Frank on absurd vocals. Other highlights include accordian-laced "No More Mr. Girl" and the reggae-flavored "Knee-Deep in Heaters." At the time of this review, this title is out of print but it does pop up in used CD bins from time to time (honest, I've seen it myself more than once). Originally released on CD through Zappa's Barking Pumpkin label in '92."
Don't Touch Yer Wallet
Star Thrower | 01/15/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This cd is not worth the high asking price. It contains a couple of forgettable rock tunes, and a few new agey instrumentals. There is one great fusion instrumental called Darlene. A better choice would be John Mclaughlin's Electric Dreams featuring Shankar, or Zappa's YCDTOSA Vol.6 which features Shankar on the instrumentals Thirteen, and Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance."
Questionable Mastering of a Good Album
Brian D. Smith | Louisville, KY United States | 10/07/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I was in the midst of a recent Zappa phase when I came across a used copy of this. My expectations were fairly low, not knowing much about either the album or Shankar himself. While it may have been the mere involvement of Zappa as producer and co-writer that pulled me in, the cd turned out to be one of the most consistently enjoyable Zappa-related releases I've heard thus far. It's very pleasingly cross-pollinated stylistically: there's "world" music, a strong fusion element, certainly progressive rock is in there, as well; but, most importantly, the compositions are imbued with a focus and melodic flair that is frequently missing from music of this technically-challenging stripe. The track "Darlene" encapsulates these qualities perfectly: it's certainly challenging to perform, but not necessarily challenging to listen to and enjoy. The playing is occasionally flashy, but the highly accessible and catchy tune always leads the way. Other tracks are milder, but still convey an immensely appealing lyricism.
I wish I could heartily recommend the cd, but unfortunately this is one of those "botched" remasters that plagued early Zappa cd releases. There are VERY strange, recurring and SUDDEN surges in the levels, as if someone is activating a compressor or manually riding the master fader. I don't believe there exists a GOOD cd issue of this record (someone please correct me if I'm wrong), so I'd highly recommend holding out for a REASONABLY priced used cd or obtaining the original vinyl. (I'm assuming, of course, that the aforementioned surges do not appear on the original master!) As things stand now, it's frustrating that such a fine album has yet to receive the cd release it deserves."