All of us right now are buggered by the current events and are praying to get out of this mess ASAP. I too thought of praying, not to Homer Simpson, but to Krishna. Which took me back to the year 1996 when the first real Indian mainstream fusion album was released. The debut self-titled album by Colonial Cousins. The duo of Hariharan and Lesle Lewis need no introduction.
My fellow cowboy, Narendra Kusnur, is a huge fan of this album. I called him, as usual, to discuss this album for our weekly Album Talk.
Note: Language maybe altered to suit the platform’s requirements.
Me: Sir isn’t this the first mainstream fusion album with only Indian artists. It is a soundscape changing album.
Kusnur: Well Indian Ocean had released a fusion rock album, Desert Rain, before this which didnt do well. This album was promoted as indi-pop and was commercially successful.
Me: That’s what Sir, rock wasn’t mainstream at that time. There was no rock fusion genre to say when it was released.
Kusnur: They had a wider reach because of the music videos.
Me: The song, Its Gonna Be Alright, kicks off with Hariharan’s magical voice.
Kusnur: The first song that was released was ‘Sa Ni Dha Pa’ so when they were releasing this album, the music label Magnasound was very secretive about it. Specially one man. Guess who? I was sent a press release but I insisted to listen to the song before writing about it. I had one of those recorders on which one could listen to music.
Me: Only the top notch journalists had those at the time.
Kusnur: I just used to listen to music.
Me: Humble as ever.
Kusnur: Do write this.
Kusnur: Finally when I was sent a tape and I heard the songs. It was the first time that a song would start with a shloka followed by western music. I couldn’t understand anything. So I wrote, it is a bundle of confusion. But they both were very cool and took my criticism sportingly. Later on the songs ‘Indian Rain’ and ‘Krishna’ really grew on me.
Me: there is a song ‘Feel Alright’ which sounds exactly like ‘Pari Hoon Main’. But my pick is ‘Indian Rain’.
Kusnur: Of course. There are other good songs like ‘Krishna’, ‘Sa Ni Dha Pa’ which was a big hit. Also there is a dance number ‘Let Me See The Love’ on which Lesle also lent his vocals.
Me: When this album was released, I had my phase where I was listening to heavy and death metal only. I had waist long hair, goatee and would roam around in only black tee shirts. It was a good phase. Somehow I took a fancy to this album and so did some of my friends. That is the beauty of this album. Everyone could relate to it.
Kusnur: It has a good mix of Indian and western elements. They used the sitar, trumpet and such instruments in some of the songs.
Me: One of the songs features the Grammy winning Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt.
Me: They have used Hariji’s voice beautifully by making him sing Hindustani, Carnatic and even Rajasthani in ‘Adrian’s Angel’.
Kusnur: Even Lewis sang in a song. My picks from the album are ‘Krishna’ which is a popular Carnatic bhajan and the moody ‘Indian Rain’. They also released an unplugged version of the album later on.
Me: Which is a gem!
Kusnur: It was a big achievement for Indian pop as till then Mtv Unplugged only featured the western heavyweights like Nirvana, Eric Clapton and kinds.
Me: There is a mysterious man, an old friend of yours, who made all this happen. Should we name him?
Who is this mystery man?
Send us your answers and the winner gets to treat us cowboys for a year!
Excited, aren’t you?
Till then, Adios!