Sunday, April 22, 2012

Record Store Day 2012: Mohammad Rafi and Conway Twitty

Yesterday was Record Store Day a day when it is not only justified but absolutely expected that you go out and spend good money on a good cause: the survival of independent music shops.

Here in Melbourne we thankfully have a strong live music scene and a growing number of independent record stores. A phenomenon that coincides with the unexpected and late comeback of vinyl. My favorite local outlet is called Licorice Pie where the stock of gloriously obscure and eclectic vinyl has grown by at least a couple of rooms just in the past few months alone. 

I try my hardest to close my eyes when I drive by the shop front.  But yesterday I grabbed the kids and off we went to explore the endless crates of musical bullion. I picked up the following and share them tonight.

The first is called An Evening with Mohd Rafi (1969; EMI India). I didn’t even think twice when I saw it. Rafi sahib is quite simply one of the glories of international popular music. Blessed with a glossy voice capable of conveying a multitude of emotions, he reigned supreme in Bollywood (before it was known as such) for most of the 60s and 70s. The cover of this record is so good too.  Standing on the ground floor of his swish apartment (probably in Juhu) Bombay, he gives the appearance of a man at the top of his game. We feel privileged that he’s come down to greet us and usher up to his apartment. And he’s a man of style too. Just look at those colorful pillars and tiles!  The Chevy Impala (a huge rarity in those days of self sufficient socialist India) lets everyone know he is cashed up to boot.

On the back, a signed and flowery recommendation by the very Don of Indian cinema, Prithviraj Kapoor, lays to rest any lingering doubts about the exact loftiness of the heights to which the poor kid from Lahore has ascended. Mohammad Rafi has arrived!

The music is splendid and includes a number of his best-loved hits of the period, most especially O Mere Shah-e-Khuban and Khoya Khoya Chand.  My personal favorite is Aaj ki Raat, a stunningly rendered intimate love song from the 1967 film Armaan.

            Track Listing:
01.  Dil Jo No Kah Saka
02.  Khoya Khoya Chand
03.  Ehsan Tera Hoga Mujhpar
04.  Chhu Lene Do
05.  Aaj ki Raat
06.  Man Re Tu Kahe Na Dheer Dhare
07.  O Mere Shah-e-Khuban
08.  Chhalake Jaam
09.  Akele Hain Chale Aao
10.  Kaun Hai Jo Sapnon Mein Aaya
11.  Kabhi na Kabhi
12.  Kahan Ja Raha Hai
Listen here. and MP3

The second record is equally cool, early Conway Twitty. Before he notched up more #1 hits (40) than any other country singer (a record broken only recently by George Strait) the young man from Friars Point, Mississippi, was a regular rock n’ roll heartthrob.  Don’t believe it? Listen to this record and be suaded.  Modelling himself on Elvis, his charisma and sexy vocalizing makes every song completely delicious. He makes even the hoary classic Danny Boy, sound as if it was written just last week in honor of some proto-Fonz.

Not sure what made Mr Twitty give up the rock dream and switch to the country roads but perhaps the incomprehensible hugeness of his role model had something to do with it. If you’re a Conway fan only familiar with his Nashville years this ‘alternate’ version is as good as any of that.  He sings not just with conviction but with genuine sex appeal and grit. Perhaps CW lacks the rebelliousness of Elvis the Pelvis but it is just as fun and fresh.

            Track Listing:
01.  It’s Only Make Believe
02.  Danny Boy
03.  Heavenly
04.  I’ll Try
05.  Halfway to Heaven
06.  Is a Blue Bird Blue
07.  The Hurt in My Heart
08.  Mona Lisa
09.  What am I Living For
10.  She’s Mine
11.  The Story of My Love
Listen here.



Anonymous said...

hi- have been enjoying your blog for awhile, especially the indian music posts (which are plentiful)- im having trouble w/ the mohammed rafi post? could you post it as an mp3? or let me know how i might be able to ransfer it to mp3? would really appreciate- thnx again for all the great music-

ajnabi said...

thank you for your kind words. You are welcome.
I will be ripping all new vinyl as MP3. on this occasion I unfortunately (at this point in time) do not have the time to rerip but will see what I can do.


Retroman said...

enjoying your postings and completely agree with you that record shops must be encouraged. Do record shops in Melbourne have any records of old Indian pop bands who sang in English? I am a writer/collector and have picked up many in India, but am always looking for more

ajnabi said...

MP3 now up. Enjoy.

ajnabi said...

Hi Retroman,
I've not come across any though I'm always on the lookout. I'll let you know if I find any.
Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

thnx ajnabi- appreciate very much-

Asli Jat said...

Thanks for sharing both of these. That Mohd. Rafi record is very familiar to me, whenever I used to visit the Indian Record Stores in Southall (right upto the 1990's) it was always there in the racks & I was fascinated by the cool cover.

Asli Jat