What’s the connection between Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh and the Belagio casino in Las Vegas? The book ‘On Stage With Lata’, co-authored by her US tour promoter Mohan Deora and her niece Rachana Shah, tells us that the late Mukesh introduced her to the casino culture when she first did a concert tour of the US in 1975.
Music books are full of trivia or analysis. Some are based on personal experience, some on research, some a mix of both. And in India, we keep getting books in various genres. While the Lata book deals exclusively with her foreign tours, three other books released in 2017 would be of interest to Indian music lovers.
Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan’s ‘Master On Masters’ talks of his experience of listening to, interacting and playing with various music legends. Cut across genres and we have Ritnika Nayan’s ‘Indie 101: The Ultimate Guide To The Independent Music Industry In India’. The title is self-explanatory. And for the rock fans, there is Mumbai-based Verus Ferreira’s ‘The Great Rock Music Quiz Book’, which is filled with trivia on international bands.
So here we have four books from four opposite genres. Pick and choose, depending on your taste. So a paragraph on each.
‘On Stage With Lata’ is different from other biographies, in that it specifically talks of her tours to the US, Canada and UK. Mangeshkar was initially skeptical about touring in these countries but agreed after being convinced many non-resident Indians were keen on seeing her perform live. The first tour featured Mukesh, Kishore Kumar and Manna Dey. While not performing she went around cities taking photographs. A chapter is devoted to the sudden demise of Mukesh in August 1976.
Khan’s ‘Master On Masters’ contains nuggets of information on great vocalists like Kesarbai Kerkar, M.S. Subbulakshmi, Amir Khan, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Bhimsen Joshi, Kumar Gandharva and ghazal-thumri queen Begum Akhtar, besides sitar maestros Ravi Shankar and Vilayat Khan, shehnai doyen Bismillah Khan, and tabla wizards Allarakha and Kishen Maharaj. Strangely, he doesn’t mention senior sarod player Ali Akbar Khan.
Nayan’s ‘Indie 101’ is an appropriate guide for independent and upcoming musicians in India. It talks of how to buy gear, sign record deals, manage tours, handle publishing. Coupled with interviews of musicians and industry professionals, it’s essential reading for those seeking a career in music.
Ferreira’s rock quiz book is more fun, with musician Lesle Lewis writing an interesting foreword. There are quizzes on bands like the Rolling Stones, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith, Scorpions, Eagles and Guns N’ Roses. India has plenty of fans. Rock on!
So those were recommendations from 2017. There are some leftovers from 2016 too. Bakhtiar K. Dadabhoy’s ‘Zubin Mehta – A Musical Journey’ is a comprehensive account on the great conductor’s life and music. And journalist Chaitanya Padukone’s ‘PanchamMania’ has some nostalgic interviews of people associated with the legendary R.D. Burman.
Looking forward to some more reading material in 2018. There’s no dearth of subjects at all.