Thursday, February 2, 2012

Lunch at Kwality's: Babla

Babla is one of a kind. Though the younger brother of one of the most acclaimed Bollywood musical director teams,  Kalyanji Anandji, Babla made a name for himself outside of the film studios of Mumbai. In fact, though he did score a few films himself, his musical output is largely non-filmi and instrumental.

With his wife, Kanchan, he spent many years touring and playing to the Indian diaspora in the Caribbean and South America.  They adopted local soca music into Hindi and recycled some of regional chutney  star Sundar Popa’s hits earning the title, King and Queen of Chutney, themselves. 

In between tours of the West Indies Babla found time to make several solo recordings, such as the one that the Washerman’s Dog highlights tonight.  This mid-80’s recording interprets a number of the biggest ghazal hits of Pankaj Udhas and Anup Jalota, both of whom were the giants of the genre at the time. Among the songs are several all time classics, Niklo Benaqaab, Ek Taraf Us Ka Ghar, Sharaab Cheez Aisi Hai and  Jam Chalne Lage which epitomize the pop ghazal style that revolutionized Indian popular music in the 80s. 

Babla, a multi-instrumentalist arranged and played the music and for that he deserves our admiration. But if truth be told, the originals outshine these instrumentals by quite a few amperes.  Yet, this record is worthy of collection. Why?  Well, for one, if you ever wanted to know what sort of  ambient music you’d hear as you and your lady shared a plate of sheekh kababs and fresh lime soda at a dimly lit Kwality’s or Gaylords Restaurant, this is it.

And, for another, it is good to be reminded that Bollywood film music was not the ONLY game in town. Babla, Enoch Daniels, Joe Gomes, and many others were whacking out paths of their own through the musical undergrowth. They deserve to be heard.

            Track Listing:
            01 Ghungroo Toot Gaye
02 Niklo na Benaqaab
03 Jam Chalne Lage
04 Zara Ahista Chal
05 Chand Angdaiyan le raha Hai
06 Ek Taraf Uska Ghar
07 Sabko Maloom Hain Main Sharabi Nahin
08 Ishq Mein Kya Bataein
09 Lazzat-e-Gham Badha Dijiye
10 Sharab Cheez Aisi Hi Hain
Listen here.


Anonymous said...

I remember Kwality restaurants from my trips to India in the early 1980s. I don't recall having heard any music in them, though. A more recent upgrade, perhaps?


choon subcity said...

Hi, great blog!

Any chance of a re-up as the link's dead - would love to hear this!!


Nathan Rabe said...

EAM, this is now reupped.enjoy.