Welcome to Raja's Pretension Palace... for those in relentless pursuit of eternal damnation

To seek asylum here, thy shall embrace HIS MAJESTY's opinions as laws and thy shall never commit those sins that HIS MAJESTY forbids!!!

"And if you listen very hard the tune will come to you at last" - Stairway To Heaven

If I were to know that I would soon be stranded on a beautiful remote island with lots of booze and food, what music albums would I pack? You know the kind that would keep me warm company while I construct that elusive escape boat with turtle skeleton, shark skin, whale bones and coconut shells.

This "desert island collection" idea led me down an inspirational path of discovering obscure gems. When I started on this venture a decade ago, I wouldn't have guessed that I would come up with something this massive. It was initially a top 100 until I realized that it was mostly showcasing the few rock acts I love. I could have stopped then and obnoxiously declared those were the best ever; thus, unintentionally showing the world how narrow my tastes were. But somewhere down the line, I chose not to be a juvenile prick; decided to listen to different styles - even the ones I didn't like. I raised it to 333 and was settled with this idea for about three years. But then one day I decided - enough is enough - 333 is not enough! I realized that all that pruning was arbitrary and a vain attempt to keep it manageable. I decided to go all out. Why 333? Because I like the number 3? I like the number 7 even more. Why not 777? It is the jackpot number and means something (chmod 777) in my world. It is considered as a perfection of trinity. I was born in '77. It all made perfect sense!

Every continent has been explored - even Antartica; even lands that are not sovereign countries - 100 countries spanning a 100-year period - quite the coverage, isn't it? I challenge you to find a broader list. I ran into a problem, though. At what point do I decide I have heard enough? It was quite the conundrum; so, I set a deadline. And that deadline was today - Jan 20th, 2020.

Before you read further, there are few things for you to keep in mind. I will list them in bullet points to help those suffering from attention deficiency disorder.
* I do not claim universal music knowledge. It's impossible to listen to every album ever made.
* This is not a music history lesson. This is not a greatest artist list and am not comparing artists.
* Don't scroll down! Would you read the end of a whodunnit, first? Consider this as a book!

What is a masterpiece?

A masterpiece achieves all the artistic goals it sought. It need not be an epic, make a statement or be influential. If an album spawned a host of imitators, it might have been trivial to begin with! To make it broad, I decided that only artists who made significantly different sounding masterpieces are eligible for multiple entries. This resulted in only ten artists having such distinction.

(1.000) (0.777) (0.333)

Dúlamán (2015)
1 Dúlamán (4:34) ♕♕
2 Cumha Eoghain Rua Uí Néill (4:09) ♕♕
3 Two Sisters (4:13)♕♕
4 Éirigh Suas a Stóirín (5:14) ♕♕
5 The Galtee Hunt (3:09) ♕♕
6 Éirigh Is Cuir Ort Do Chuid Éadaigh (4:12) ♕♕
7 Siúil A Rúin (5:50) ♕♕
8 Mo Mháire (2:43) ♕♕
9 dTigeas a Damhsa (1:26) ♕♕
10 Cucanandy/The Jug of Brown Ale (3:13) ♕♕
REVIEW DATE - Jan 20th, 2020

Clannad at #777? Precursors to Enya? - the new age artist whose only track you probably know is the remix version of Only Time that was played non-stop on radio post 9/11, to annoying effect. Well, this album sounds nothing like that. Though you may feel suckered after seeing Satan air-guitar (with his trident) on my home page, I feel this album is the ideal candidate to start the countdown. I wanted to begin with a beautiful delicate album and end with a beautiful powerful album. This album takes influences from folk rock, pop and progressive rock, though sounding entirely different to those genres. This is among the first albums to explore the heavenly beauty of Celtic music (flute, mandolin, and harp are used to ethereal effect). You may consider this as early new-age but it still maintains its roots without degenerating to radio-friendly schmaltz. I should feel guilty for starting the countdown on such a tender note, and I do. But do I and should I care?

E*MO*TION (2015)
1 Run Away With Me (4:11) ♕♕♕♕♕
2 Emotion (3:17) ♕♕
3 I Really Like You (3:24)♕♕♕♕♕
4 Gimmie Love (3:22) ♕♕♕♕♕
5 All That (4:28) ♕♕
6 Boy Problems (3:42)
7 Making The Most Of The Night (3:58) ♕♕♕♕♕
8 Your Type (3:19) ♕♕♕♕♕
9 Let's Get Lost (3:13) ♕♕
10 LA Hallucinations (3:04) ♕♕♕♕♕
11 Warm Blood (4:13) ♕♕♕♕♕
12 When I Needed You (3:41) ♕♕
REVIEW DATE - Mar 13th, 2020

If you were thinking I will quickly restore parity (after starting with those softies - Clannad), with some heavy-hitting hard rock or heavy metal to prove I haven't lost my marbles yet, you are in for a rude shock. This is teenage girl pop... and that too recorded in 2015. Blasphemy! There goes my credibility with classic rock fans. Never mind the singer was in her thirties, she sounds like she has just hit puberty. That sounds bad, but it simply isn't. The production on this is excellent and Carly hooked with some big-shot producers and writers to make a completely retro-sounding album with elements of late 70s disco and funk, 80s and 90s synthpop and even some late 70's-mid 80's horror synth. The material is all about love, betrayal, losing control and all that blah teenage issues. But it is so danceable, memorable and arranged impeccably, that you can ignore the juvenile lyrics and run away with Carly to the clouds and dance silly donning a beret and rocking that white fluffy shirt and shiny bell-bottom pants. You have to credit the nu-disco movement of the 2000's for providing influence to this album. Funny fact: I was feeling way too cool for having discovered a teenage album that Neanderthals like you and me would fret; thus, superior to the other disconnected and out-of-touch rock zombies in their 40s. All that came crashing down when I read that one line in Wikipedia "Emotion reinvigorated Jepsen's career as an "indie darling" for older audiences, garnering her a cult following"; It felt like someone threw cold freezing water on my proudly risen (dick) head; proving - I will forever be a pathetic unhip old loser.

1 Jisas Yu Holem Hand Blong Mi (1:21)
2 Soon My Lord (1:16)
3 God Yu Tekkem Laef Blong Mi (2:17)
4 Early Morning At Tabalia (0:29)
5 Procession Chant 1 (1:27)
6 Procession Chant 2 (0:55)
7 Holly (1:40)
8 Procession Chant 3 (1:03)
9 We Love To Sing (3:39)
10 Mi Go Longway (2:51)
11 Jisas, Masta Mi Save (2:57)
12 Procession Chant 4 (0:36)
13 Together Be (2:26)
14 Sunday Service Hymn (1:43)
15 Halleluia!, Sing To Jesus (1:30)
16 Jesus, You Are Here (2:15)
17 Bybye (2:23)
18 We Are One Big Happy Family (2:29)
19 Traditional Lullaby (2:16)
20 Cho Cho Vancho (1:24)
21 Remember (0:54)
22 Jisas Yu Holem Hand Blong Mi (1:53)
23 Pray For Us (2:43)
24 God All Mighty (2:09)
25 Procession Chorus (3:16)
26 Kyrie (3:02)
REVIEW DATE - Mar 14th, 2020

How much should I bet that you don't recognize the flag above? There are no musical instruments on this album - another curveball, huh? This is one of the best choral albums I have ever heard. This music was recorded for the movie The Thin Red Line which I haven't seen yet. The movie is apparently one of the greatest war movies ever made. This album makes me wanna watch the movie soon. The official soundtrack featured instruments and was composed by famed German film score composer Hans Zimmer who has also composed for movies like Rain Man, The Lion King, Gladiator, Interstellar etc. This album has nothing to do with him though. The official soundtrack of the movie featured his compositions alone, except for track 3 from this album. These chants were performed by two choir groups from the Solomon Islands (a small sovereign country in Oceania not far away from Australia). There isn't much detail available online except that The Melanesian Brotherhood performs most of the songs with only 9 of the 26 songs credited to the The Choir Of All Saints. Most of the songs are dominated by female vocals but male bass vocals are present in every song and are equally as endearing. I could have put this album higher up in the list but you need to be in a certain mood to listen to this album in its entirety. It's an excellent headphone album and I would advise you to listen to this in the dark with eyes closed!

1 La Venada (1:48) ♕♕♕♕
2 Boquita De Cereza (2:37) ♕♕♕♕♕
3 El Pájaro Madrugador (2:43)♕♕♕♕♕
4 El Canto del Agua (3:38) ♕♕♕♕♕
5 Ananay (2:52) ♕♕♕♕♕
6 El Quebrachal (3:43)
7 Aires Del Altiplano (3:53)
8 Malkischay (2:30)♕♕♕♕♕
9 La Mariposa (2:07) ♕♕
10 Nieves Eternas (1:58) ♕♕
11 Nuca Llama (1:53) ♕♕♕♕
12 La Pastora (3:12) ♕♕♕♕♕
REVIEW DATE - Mar 18th, 2020

If you have heard what you think as African music and came here thinking you would hear African polyrhythmic djembe percussions and funky guitars, primarily meant for dancing, you thought wrong and you are in for a surprise. Madagascar, though in close proximity to the continent of Africa is actually an Austronesian (I bet most of you don't know such a region exists!) island nation and sounds closer to the stuff you would heard out of Hawaii, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Tonga, Fiji, Tahiti (French Polynesia) etc. than Central or Southern Africa. There are definite African influences though making this music sounding like a fusion of African and Austronesia. Also, this band is not a folk band or a virtuoso classical band focused on one lead instrument either... they are an eclectic pop band who play a variety of instruments. In fact, their national instrument valiha (though one of the main instruments, here) is just one of many instruments. This album I feels resembles Led Zeppelin III more than anything with its focus on folk, blues and some rocking - though it is not as hard or heavy, it has the groove of Led Zeppelin II but the heart of Led Zeppelin III. This album also has the island feel which Led Zeppelin never explored (Jimmy Page or John Paul Jones never played ukulele or valiha in their Led Zeppelin recordings. It would have been interesting to hear Zeppelin at their prime try that... what if they were to vacation in Madagascar in the early 70s? If they could make it to India, they could definitely make it Madagascar!). Speaking of which, why am I making this about Led Zeppelin?

JATARI (1973)
1 Run Away With Me (4:11) ♕♕♕♕♕
2 Emotion (3:17) ♕♕
3 I Really Like You (3:24)♕♕♕♕♕
4 Gimmie Love (3:22) ♕♕♕♕♕
5 All That (4:28) ♕♕
6 Boy Problems (3:42)
7 Making The Most Of The Night (3:58) ♕♕♕♕♕
8 Your Type (3:19) ♕♕♕♕♕
9 Let's Get Lost (3:13) ♕♕
10 LA Hallucinations (3:04) ♕♕♕♕♕
11 Warm Blood (4:13) ♕♕♕♕♕
12 When I Needed You (3:41) ♕♕
REVIEW DATE - Mar 20th, 2020

Yep, you guessed it wrong... dumbarse... it's not the flag of Colombia up there, its Ecuador's... as if you were confident in any way! It would have been still a major achievement for an ignoramus fool like you to guess Colombia. When one thinks of South America, they are not usually thinking Ecuador, are they? Countries like Brazil (for being the only South American nation to speak Portuguese, bossa nova, samba), Argentina (football, enemies of the English), Chile (for reminding us of hot chilis and that unhealthy chili dish) and Colombia (for the mafia) seem to always grab the limelight. Others like Venezuela (constant beauty pageant winners, stinking at football in a grotesque and embarrassing fashion) and Peru (Machu Pichu) get recollected once in a while. And if you know any football at all, you would know of Uruguay. The three others - Paraguay, Bolivia and especially Ecuador seem to get the short end of the stick when it comes to remembering this part of the world. This album is not an attempt to make up the numbers and cover Ecuador. That would be shallow and uncouth of me. This album deserves its spot simply because it's a perfect little undertaking from the '70s that captures the spirit of the tranquil and pastoral beauty of the Andes. If you have any idea about Andean folk, you would expect pan flutes and you do get that here, but then, there's more. Also, this is not a so-called "world" project done in a new age fashion; rather, it's an understated (and beautiful) folk album that is mostly made up of traditionals arranged and played in with a modern outlook, while being delightfully virtuosic and earnestly sincere.

VIENTO (2010)
1 Patagonia (19:15)
2 Antartica (16:08)
REVIEW DATE - Mar 30th, 2020

If you have looked at the track listing you might be wondering what or where the heck is Patagonia? No, it is not that major outdoor clothing brand - it's a sparsely occupied southern region shared by Chile and Argentina which spans a million square kilometres and as of today has a population of just under couple million giving it a density of a whopping 1.9 person per square kilometre! The Australian composer and curator Lawrence English recorded this album while he was on an expedition to Antartica. On the way, he was stuck in the Argentine Patagonia due to a wind storm. Instead of being miserable, Lawrence decided to take his recording equipment and make the best of the situation. This will be the first (and probably most) difficult listening album of the countdown for you. Although it would still not pass as easy listening, the second track is the more palpable and the more palatable of the two. You may not consider this music at all - and you will be right! What makes this field recording work is the enthralling authenticity of the effort; the sounds on the album are as bone-chilling as the conditions under which they were recorded. To enjoy this album, you have to experience it - close your eyes in a dark room and transport yourself to sterile frozen lands ravaged by blizzards at -40 Fahrenheit/Celsius (yes at -40 they are equal. Look it up!) knowing that the wind chill will probably kill you if you don't have appropriate clothing - yet the hauntingly beautiful polar landscape incites you to risk it anyway. Get a good pair of headphones for this - my Sennheiser HD 600 does an adequate job.

SÂZENDA (2005)
1 Raga Khamaj: Peshnawazi (2:03) ♕♕
2 Yakdjânwâzi en dix temps (12:50) ♕♕♕♕
3 Rawân en 16 temps (14:28) ♕♕♕♕
4 Solo de Tabla (10:53) ♕♕
5 Yabouli Bhairavi (12:50)♕♕♕♕
6 Gol-afshân (3:47) ♕♕♕♕
7 Zar-afshan (3:44) ♕♕
8 Delkash (3:24) ♕♕
9 Solo de zerbaghali (5:55) ♕♕
REVIEW DATE - Apr 1st, 2020

I should be obliged to play a prank or crack a joke on April 1st, but with coronavirus in full swing and 47k of my brothers and sisters dead as of now, I am not in a jovial mood as such. If my fellow Americans who are reading this have been interested in politics of any time, they might recognize the flag up there... although I wouldn't bet my life on it. Americans are generally ignorant of the countries they like to bomb... haha. Politics mean nothing to me as most of it is religion based and I am a devout Atheist (though born Hindu). I consider myself a world citizen and I don't think highly of national pride - I am pretty much like George Carlin when it comes to patriotism. Well if you still haven't figured it out, that flag is the Afghanistani flag. And the fact that USA and Afghanistan are a perpetual war shouldn't cloud your judgement of music coming out of that region. Music knows no religion, after all. When I began exploring music from all parts of the world, little did I know that Afghan classical has close ties with Indian classical music. This is however not a slow-burning raga Ravi Shankar like. Nor does it feature any sitar at all. The lead instruments are Afghani rubab and tabla. The tabla makes it sound Indian-like but this music is so rhythmic and Middle-Eastern melody based that only an ignorant nincompoop will consider this Indian classical or raga music. The album being recorded in 2005 has crystal clear sound and the dynamics between musicians is so well-captured that the production on this sounds like you would find on a top-notch ECM jazz album. Even if you cannot get this music, you got to hear this for the excellent production.

1 Hells Bells - AC/DC (5:12)
2 Raining Blood - Slayer (4:14)
3 Love With Tears Us Apart - Joy Division (3:18)
4 We're Not Gonna Take It - Twisted Sister (3:38)
5 Kill The Poor - Dead Kennedys (3:02)
6 Sweet Child O Mine - Guns 'n Roses (5:55)
7 Tom Sawyer - Rush (4:33)
8 Owner Of A Lonely Heart - Yes (4:27)
9 Let It Go - Def Leppard (4:43)
10 Sanctuary - Iron Maiden (3:12)
11 Jesus Christ Pose - Soundgarden (5:50)
12 Give It Away - Red Hot Chilli Peppers (4:43)
13 Rooster - Alice In Chains (6:15)
14 Epic - Faith No More (4:53)
15 Silver Rocket - Sonic Youth (3:47)
16 Still Of The Night - Whitesnake (6:41)
17 Blackout - Scorpions (3:49)
18 Hangar 18 - Megadeth (5:14)
19 Black No. 1 - Type O Negative (11:15)
20 Ace Of Spades - Motorhead (2:48)
21 Debaser - Pixies (2:52)
22 Once In A Lifetime- Talking Heads (4:19)
23 Orion - Metallica (8:27)
REVIEW DATE - Apr 20th, 2020

This is not a real album. If it were real, it would have been one heck of an album. If you were being a smartass, you would have guessed the ablum to be a soundtrack to a Beavis and Butt-Head movie. Sorry, clown, you got suckered by my brilliant crude paint job on (a real) movie poster. Of the 777 albums, 7 of them are gonna be fake. Why you ask? Because it is my friggin' countdown. Me decides - what me does with it! I have also swapped what was supposed to be my album #770 with this one (and hence the review date on the following album is earlier!). This imaginary countdown episode was aired sometime in mid-1993 (the first season), just as the show was getting popular. Don't you think those two knuckleheaded headbangers would have done this album in a heartbeat? They might have been kids of the '90s but their hearts scream '80s (and so do their collective IQs). Hence, this album covers the 1980-1993 period.

The song on this album which features mostly American and British bands (except AC/DC, Scorpions and Rush), are not all metal or hard rock. They do, however, have a certain rocking intensity that makes them blend in. I made it a point to not include outwardly pop or dance songs that would "sugar" the album and confuse Beavis enough to make him go all "Cornholio" over us. Though brimming with testesterone, this is not all sausage - three of the songs feature female bassists - don't know which are those? Go educate yourself! It's not all 80s artists in there - there are some 70's leftovers in the form of Yes, Rush, AC/DC, Scorpions (and Motorhead if you want to get really anal. This album would have been empty without God himself... check the movie - Airheads). And in poetic justice, the two dimwit losers start their countdown with AC/DC and end with Metallica - two bands that are permanently emblazoned on their pre-pubic chests.

STAND UP (1969)
1 A New Day Yesterday (4:10) ♕♕♕♕
2 Jeffrey Goes to Leicester Square (2:12) ♕♕♕♕
3 Bourée (3:47) ♕♕♕♕
4 Back To The Family (3:53) ♕♕
5 Look Into The Sun (4:23)♕♕
6 Nothing Is Easy (4:26) ♕♕♕♕
7 Fat Man (2:52) ♕♕♕♕
8 We Used To Know (4:03) ♕♕
9 Reasons For Waiting (4:07)♕♕
10 For A Thousand Mothers (4:21)♕♕
REVIEW DATE - Apr 3rd, 2020

If you have been paying attention to my reviews you would have noticed that I have called Ian Anderson (the lead singer, songwriter, flautist, acoustic guitarist and leader of this band) a tool. Yet, his band and album make the list. That’s how I roll - spiteful comments follow ardent praise. True that, Anderson got too clever for his own good when his band hobbled into progressive rock in the '70s. This isn’t prog rock, though. If this is prog rock this has to be the least pretentious, pompous and plethoric (three "P" adjectives which rock critics often use in various ways to disparage the whole prog rock movement) progressive rock albums of all time. On the other hand, if this is pure rock, this is indeed the most pretentious, pompous and plethoric rock albums of all time. This might be one of the very few albums which "pure rock" fans and critics disdain as "too confusing to be rock" and which "prog rock" fans disown as "way too simple to be prog". This respective hate and love for complexity is the divide between rock fans and prog fans. If you have no idea what is this "prog rock thingy" please visit progarchives.com to get better idea from the prog nerds there - I am poor with definitions. I consider myself a (highly selective) prog fan because this genre being overly-ambitious is most often so bad that is good and other times just bad; thus making it an interesting exploration.

Being the huge pathetic loser that I am, I wanted my first real rock album on the countdown to be a pretentious (this is pretension palace after all) prog rock album (that rock critics would absolutely hate... thus earning me some much-needed cool points). However, I miserably failed to find a single prog album that could fit this slot. So, I settled for a pretentious rock album instead... what a disgrace! Don't let the word "pretention" fool you - this album is extremely charming if you embrace versatility. What kind of music is this? Were they trying to play blues rock? folk rock? jazz rock? classical rock? How about all... most times such ambition falls flat on its face, but here it succeeds because the focus is not on showing off but tasteful songwriting. This is Ian Anderson's strongest work and features his strongest rhythm section. God knows how and why he managed to lose his amazingly talented bass guitarist and exceptional feel-oriented drummer in the 70s With this rhythm section future big sellers Aqualung and Thick As A Brick would have live up to their hype! To love this album, you have to get past Ian Anderson's hobo voice. It's very much bearable here, though. And he doesn't even abuse that favorite flute of him. Interesting fact: this sophomore album has a new guitarist - some comedian called Lancelot Barre who probably absconded The Monty Python Flying Circus at some point in his life. That slot could have easily gone to one great Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, had he not fled on his horse, disguised in a black cape in the middle of night, while begging Satan for mercy, after meeting these weirdos.

1 Shootin' Creek (3:24)
2 Baltimore Fire (3:12)
3 Leaving Home (3:09)
4 There'll Come A Time (3:29)
5 White House Blues (3:29)
6 The Highwayman (3:18)
7 Hungry Hash House (3:23)
8 The Letter That Never Came (2:49)
9 Take A Drink On Me (3:15)
10 Husband And Wife Were Angry One Night (2:51)
11 Ramblin' Blues (3:06)
12 Took My Gal A-Walkin' (2:51)
13 Old And Only In The Way (3:28)
14 Don't Let Your Deal Go Down Blues (2:53)
15 Bill Mason (3:00)
16 Sweet Sixteen (2:54)
17 Write A Letter To My Mother (3:01)
18 If The River Were Whiskey (3:09)
19 Mother's Last Farewell Kiss (3:04)
20 Milwaukee Blues (3:17)
21 Where The Whippoowill Is Whispering Good-Night (3:09)
22 The Girl I Left In Sunny Tennessee (3:20)
23 It's Movin' Day (3:27)
24 I'm The Man That Rode The Mule 'Round The World (3:03)
25 Monkey On A String (3:07)
26 Can I Sleep In Your Barn Tonight, Mister (3:12)
27 Sunset March (2:39)
28 Good-Bye Sweet Liza Jane (3:04)
29 Good-Bye Booze (3:15)
30 You Ain't Talking To Me (2:57)
31 If I Lose, I Don't Care (3:07)
32 Budded Rose (3:03)
33 I Once Loved A Sailor (3:06)
34 My Wife Went Away And Left Me (2:55)
35 Just Keep Waiting Till The Good Time Comes (3:26)
36 Coon From Tennessee (3:11)
37 Southern Medley (3:05)
38 Sweet Sunny South (2:54)
39 He Rambled (3:01)
REVIEW DATE - Apr 26th, 2020

How often has an injury to the hand in early years of one's life resulted in the guitarist discovering a way of playing the stringed instrument and discovering and pioneering a signature style that influenced generations of musicians? Think... Django Reinhardt (fire), Tony Iommi (factory accident), Jerry Garcia (wood splitting accident). Well you can add Charlie Poole to that list... granted he played the banjo and died about 2 decades before the rock n' roll era.... still he developed a novel finger-picking style of banjo playing courtesy a permanent arch in his right hand caused by him stupidly losing his thumb to a bet that he could catch baseball without a glove. This kind of music is called old-time - a term invented to basically describe the oldest form of American music apart from Native American music. Sound-wise, old-time is a precursor to country and to my novice ears sounds a little more upbeat and folskier compared to the slower country and the more virtuosic bluegrass. It also uses the downstroke clawhammer style of banjo playing unlike country and bluegrass.

You would think early music would sound pretty muddy, crackling and lo-fi, but this album is an exception. The album collects most of music recorded by Mr. Poole (recorded between 1925-30). Charlie died in on May 21st 1931 (my dad's birthday... yes, my dad was born just like me, my son, brother-in-law and sister-in-law in May... and also died in May) at a tender age of 39... a sad and a great loss. Most of the songs on the albums are covers - Charlie hardly wrote his own songs - but the songs have a modern "revivalist" take (old-time was already old back then!) and are expertly arranged with ample backup from acoustic guitar and fiddle. I am considering the songs which are recorded by his band North Carolina Ramblers for this review - ignoring the stuff with other musicians. This compilation was released in 2005 and nominated for three academy records. Of the whopping 39 songs here, the highlights are the memorable and poetically melodic (If The River Was Whiskey, Sweet Sunny South), bouncy (Shooting Creek, White House Blues, Take A Drink On Me), strangely rocking (Don't Let You Deal Go Down), virtuosic (Hungry Hash House), slow-bluesy (Baltimore Fire), fast-bluesgrassy (I'm The Man With Who Rode the Mule) and country-esque (Leaving Home). That was incredibly lame and shallow of me to neatly categorize the best songs on the album... but I am not gonna get into a song-song review of such a large compilation. And there would be no addendum either, for compilations, as a rule! I would have rated this album higher up on the list if not for it being so massive.

1 Symphony No. 14 (11:20)
2 Symphony No. 8 (11:41)
3 Symphony No. 2 (9:33)
4 Symphony No. 12 (11:23)
5 Symphony No. 17 (11:49)
6 Symphony No. 13 (12:05)
REVIEW DATE - May 31st, 2020

Well, this is my first (Western) classical album in the countdown, and I am a street bum when it comes to classical music - the other genres that I love like rock, electronic and folk music are closer to my base than classical ever was. I enjoy classical very much in spite of not having the slightest comprehension or the knowledge of its high art, complexity, nuance and sophistication. My favorite eras are Baroque and Classical. I love the other periods too - the only era I haven't been able to sink my teeth into is Modern. For some reason, in spite of its great diversity, Modern classical has not been palatable to my taste buds. Maybe I am just an old-fashioned 1700s-era kook with a narrow mind born in the wrong century?

The composer of this album - William Herschel, though not very well-known as a composer, was actually, one of the greatest astronomers of all time. He not only constructed the renowned Herschel telescopes, but also discovered the highly controversial, the full-of-shit planet - Uranus. He also discovered infrared radiation, determined the rotation period of Mars, discovered Titania and Oberon (two moons of Uranus alluded to, in the Pink Floyd classic Astronomy Domine) and the enigmatic Enceladus and that worthless piece of shit - Mimus (two moons of Saturn). And he did all of this, after having already composed 24 symphonies! What a genius, this guy was! I wonder if there were any other great astronomer-composers in history. He had someone in his own family - his younger sister (Caroline) who gave him ample company in his dual pursuits. She discovered comets and has one even named after her, and also sang in oratorios (Handel's Messiah being one of them) that William conducted. She was not a composer though! So, the search for the holy grail of astronomer-composer continues... Regardless, isn't it awe-inspiring to see musician-astronomer siblings? Genius runs in the blood they say, and they are all bloodsuckers... so they know!

I don't remember how I ran into Herschel's music, but I am kind of proud to have discovered him - and you would be too when you listen to this album {Don't get a big head just get a-head}. Six of his symphonies are presented here by the London Mozart Players with Swiss conductor Matthias Bamert in tow - in a bright, vibrant and elegant fashion. They are delectable, joyful and dreamy - and have this remarkable ability to transport you back to the stately and serene beauty of the 1760s (William composed 24 symphonies at a whirlwind speed between 1760-64 - someone told him music wasn't his full-time role!).  I recommend listening to this on vinyl (if available) while sitting in a dark room lying down on a comfy couch with some fine red-wine in hand. This will sound magical and ...English! Though Herschel was German, he had settled in London since the age of 19, and is for all his intents and purposes, an Englishman. These symphonies have a Handel-esque feel to them (who coincidentally was another German composer who was quintessentially English). Never mind the Nazis, in a moment of rare solidarity, ignoring all the bitterness between the two nations, Herschel and Handel brought the Brit and them German brothers together. I wish these two had been born a tad earlier - we could have easily avoided those two pesky, grotesque and rather long-winded world wars!!!

1 Alir Pukai (4:05)
2 Watikai Lau Nuk Pau Atalaigu (3:27)
3 Tarurvur (7:09)
4 Rabaul Taun (11:23)
5 Beautiful Rabaul (5:15)
6 Uma Lari (4:29)
7 Tomaimo (3:53)
8 Sori Boko Na Ra Club (4:04)
9 Youth Development Song (4:29)
10 Town Kavieng (3:41)
11 Lau Ga Ki Tara Papara Ta (3:31)
12 Karanas Leva (6:02)
13 Valvalian (4:27)
14 Gossip (3:59)
15 Tou Ra Vui (3:52)
16 Ram Kuk (3:50)
REVIEW DATE - Jun 6th, 2020

Bonus points for guessing the first flag above. Zero points for guessing the second flag above. Answer quick, before you google! If you are even half-way on the road to Smartania, you would have guessed that this flag belongs to some tropical island country. And that would be - Papua New Guinea, a country that no one seems to know much about at all - in spite of the fact that it is part of the largest island (Papua) after Greenland - that not-so-tropical island. So how does the music sound here? No, it doesn't sound like Hawaiian, Fijian or Tahitian - though it may have infuences from all three. The overall feel of each of the sixteen songs on the album is "outdoorsy" and very much "sunshine folk" but the songs sound very much reflective in nature, with a hint of melancholy. They are all sung in one or more of the 832 Papuan languages with each song having choir-like vocals with plenty of slide guitar (probably played by that lone American - more about him later), some ukulele and acoustic "slack-key guitar" - a style popular in Hawaii.

What has Bob Brozman and America got to do this album? Precious little - though Bob throws in some nice Blues+American Primitivism-inspired bottleneck guitar. Thankfully, he doesn't lend his horrendous voice! Ever since fellow blues and slide guitarist Ry Cooder collaborated with Indian slide guitarist Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (in 1993) and then later with Cuban musicians (in 1997) to great critical acclaim, there was this trend in mid 90s and early 2000s among older blues musicians to do collaborative projects. You could accuse Bob of hopping on the bandwagon but you wouldn't accuse him of lacking sincerity. It seems like Bob (who is also a musicologist) got with the locals (five different local string bands), understood their music and added his little input to it - without trying to make the music his own. In fact, one of the greatest assets of the album might be Bob's complete lack of ego - no modern touches whatsoever! If there is a flaw in the album - it is that most of the songs have the same feeling, even if they do not sound alike. I would recommend listening to this album - not on headphones, but on a surround system... or even better... outdoors near a steady stream of water.

PS: This album might be the answer to that million-dollar question - What would you get if Led Zeppelin (Led Zeppelin... again?) recorded an album full of songs sounding like a curious mix of Hats Off To Roy Harper and Going to California - but not in some "remote" cottage in Wales; but in some REMOTE island 9000 miles away, with local choir and string bands?

1 Sri Venketesa Suprabhatam (20:30)
2 Bhavayami (13:31)
3 Shri Vangapura Vihara (6:04)

REVIEW DATE - Ju1 18th, 2020

This whole page is going to be loaded with curveballs - this in particular, would make the heads of even my closest friends, spin! I, myself would haven't guessed that my first Indian entry in the countdown would be a Carnatic classical vocal album. I have always been more of a "music" sort of person - who still maintains the position of vocals being ornamental and secondary to the instruments. And my attraction to Indian classical (which has been only lately in the past 10 years or so) has always been aligned towards the hypnotic marvel of the slow-burn instrumental ragas which revolves around the virtuoso skills of the various Indian maestros (Pandits, Vidwans and Ustads). Granted, vocals are important more so in Carnatic classical than Hindustani classical and many classical vocalists had successful careers of their own, but it is the Ravi Shankars and Ali Akbar Khans who are more well-known outside of India.

M. S. Subbulakshmi, though mostly known in South India is still regarded in the same level as Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan. She was India's most treasured classical singers who not only was bestowed with Bharath Ratna - India's highest civilian award (which has been awarded only to a select few), but also was honored with the Asia Nobel prize -Ramon Magsaysay Award. Carnatic classical musicians tend to be even more elusive than their Hindustani counterparts and hardly ever record LPs. Though Subbulakshmi has performed in America, Europe and all over the world, she had recorded precious few albums as such. The Carnatic school music is deeply associated with the Hindu (South India - especially Tamil) Gods and hence more spiritual than its Hindustani rival. This album is particular is deeply spiritual. Though Subbulakshmi is Tamilian the album is sung in Sanskrit - an ancient language which is hardly spoken these days (PS: Tamil is supposed to be even older than Sanskrit. But the modern version of Tamil is well... modern).

The 20-minute title song which is merely a vocal chant of hymns to awaken the deity was written around 600 years ago in 1430 A.D. by Prathivadhi Bhayankaram Aṇṇan who was a prominent scholar of his time. The instrumentation on it is sparse and it would resemble vedic chants to the Western audience. It is however not as old (Vedic chants were written 3500 years ago) and is merely a hymn which is played or sung early morning - in fact in rural Southern India (Tamil Nadu and Kerala in particular) it is still played in many houses and temples on a daily basis. All the version that is played is the version on this album! This tune could possibly lay claim to be played more than any other song - even Stairway To Heaven! The other two tracks feature instruments like tamboura (Subbulakshmi), mridangam (T.K. Murthy) and violin (R.S. Gopalakrishnan). I like the second track the best in which the mridangam and vocals seem to possess a sort of spiritual cohesion which can be only experienced by listening. The third track is good as well but, in my opinion, it gets a bit dwarfed by the majestic beautify of the first two songs. PS: It is highly possible that Subbulakshmi's step daughter Radha Vishwanathan is providing harmony vocals in this album, but credits for this album are as elusive as this album itself. So, I can't vouch for her presence!

1 The Minstrel (9:37)
2 Unity (8:08)
3 On The Beach (17:26)
4 Motherhood (4:26)

REVIEW DATE - Oct 25th, 2020

I begin my long and treacherous journey into jazz with an atypical album which apart from being highly unusual, has little to do with American jazz, even though it done by American musicians. I must tell you I am not a big fan of the highly respected jazz genres (bebop, hard bop, post bop, cool jazz, modal jazz, free jazz, avantgarde jazz) of the 1950s and 1960s. I never understood the charm of each member taking turns to do unaccompanied solos on brass and double-bass. As they say... "Don't give a damn about any trumpet playing band; it ain't what they call Rock and Roll".

Now that I have turned off all jazz enthusiasts, let’s talk the language, peasants like you and me understand. Why do I like this album? This is not the late 60s jazz-fusion or jazz-funk music which are pills a rock fan like me can easily swallow. This is pretty much in line with the 50s and 60s jazz that I ranted about, especially in terms of structure. However, in terms of spirit, this is well... different. The group leader Philip Cohran wasn't looking at his predecessors for inspiration; he was looking forward into lands from far beyond like Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Egypt, India and (maybe) China. Another thing I love about this album are the songs are structured around a strange and sweet instrument - the electric kalimba (aka Frankophone). So, in spite of having a 1940's big band-styled line up, featuring thirteen musicians, with many of them playing standard brass like saxophone, trumpet, trombone and tuba, the music here is distinctly non-Western.

The band features members Master Henry Gibson (who will go on to play with funk legend Herbie Hancock and soul singer Donny Hathaway), blues and jazz guitarist Pete Cosey who will play with Miles Davis in the '70s, and also features what would later become the horn sections of legendary soul/disco/funk band Earth Wind and Fire - the saxophonist Don Myrick and bassist/trombonist Louis Satterfield. So, you get the picture - this was a revolutionary outfit playing some extra-ordinary music which influenced a lot of African-American music of the next decade.

As for the songs themselves, the first two songs have a strong sense of American soul mixed with African groove, foreshadowing the music, Herbie Hancock and Fela Kuti made in the '70s. The opening song The Minstrel starts with typical soul singing by the two female members but soon progresses into virtuoso Frankophone soloing with African rhythms and brass soloing in a vein of Sun Ra Arkestra (Philip Cohran played cornet for Sun Ra' in late '50s). The exotic Unity is the best song on the album. This song features two other instruments - the violin-uke and the Chinese musette, which seem to be played in a style similar to Indian Carnatic violin and nadaswaram. The rhythm provided by Master Henry Gibson on the conga and timbales is West African. The second half is not as immediately captivating but ultimately rewarding if have the patience to sit through especially the slow burning title track which is almost raga-like. The final track Motherhood which is entirely different in mood, is a short lounge track which features some incredible vocals by one of the singers. Though not as remarkable as the rest, it is effective and closes the album on a serene note.

1 Foxy Lady (3:10)
2 Manic Depression (3:31)
3 Red House (3:45)
4 Can You See Me (2:35)
5 Love Or Confusion (3:05)
6 I Don't Live Today (3:48)
7 May Be This Love (2:55)
8 Fire (2:30)
9 3rd Stone From The Sun (6:30)
10 Remember (2:43)
11 Are You Experienced (4:02)
12 Hey Joe (3:30)
13 Stone Free (3:36)
14 Purple Haze (2:51)
15 51st Anniversary (3:15)
16 The Wind Cries Mary (3:20)
17 Highway Chile (3:32)
REVIEW DATE - Oct 31st, 2020

I must say that I am cheating here. This is technically not the real Are You Experienced album. I will explain. Jimi Hendrix Experience were a British band backing an American guitarist who was plucked out of thin air and shipped promptly to England by ex-Animals bassist/producer Chas Chandler. Since they were British, only the UK version of the album should count. If you are an ignorant fool who knows nothing about rock music in the '60s, back in the '60s, the Brits released albums separately in the UK and the US, and with different songs. The reason being - the US versions included already released hit singles in the UK and excluded the weakest studio album songs, thus delegitimizing them (no one considers the Beatles or Rolling Stones US albums as real albums, for example). The Experience already had 3 hit singles in the UK by the release of the British version of this album. And in this compilation, you get to listen to them and their B-sides.

Compilations shouldn't qualify as a masterpiece, right? Yes, agreed. But I am considering this countdown list as my desert island collection and I am allowing myself to make few exceptions for myself. Don't fret - this countdown will not be loaded with compilations. So that I don't go berserk with that leverage, I have put in seven golden rules for myself. A compilation must:
* Feature rock music.
* Feature a band and feature just one of their lineups (bands with history of revolving door lineups and solo artists are hence, fucked!).
* Be made by an influential artist (the artist need not be mainstream but should have influenced music artists of the future).
* Be made by artists from the '60s or '70s (Why? because '80s and beyond mainstream artists are mostly MTV-aided. And no 50s? because most of '50s was singles-focused)
* Have material from a minimum of 3 studio albums.
* Have material from maximum of 7 studio albums.
* Have at least 5 songs (5? Why so low? You have never heard of progressive rock obviously!)

Why did I not just include the original Are You Experienced album? Because I don't think the British version of this album is particularly strong (mostly marred by poor production on few songs with bass guitar barely audible and drums sounding like tin cans. There were three engineers involved... God knows why!). Perhaps, it was intentional sabotage by Chas Chandler who marketed the band as Jimi's backing band - did they turn the bass amplifier off? I smell conspiracy, because Redding's bass is clearly prominent on the singles but relegated to the background on all the 11 album tracks. Also, Jimi Hendrix, though a pioneering and visionary guitarist, was a patchy songwriter. The three singles (Hey Joe, Purple Haze, The Wind Cries Mary) on this compilation are the best songs Jimi Hendrix ever recorded, apart from that legendary Bob Dylan cover (All Along the Watchtower) that he recorded for the third album. Those singles (and their B-sides Stone Free, 51st Anniversary and Highway Chile) tower over anything on the album (except Foxy Lady, Manic Depression, Love or Confusion, and Fire). As for the rest of the songs the blues-rock Red House is a best song here. The long 3rd Stone from The Sun is an interesting jam which points forward to Santana, whom I think were better at this kind of music, courtesy the exotic Latin percussion. The other five are blah. The title track is among the worst songs and could have had the dubious honor of being one of the few title songs to be the worst song on the album, if not for the even worse Remember. So, this leaves the album with 12 highlights out of 17. Not the best strike rate - but those highlights are pretty... high, especially, the hypnotic, The Wind Cries Mary.

Many of the Hendrix fans may be offended to see him so low on the list. He and his band were revolutionaries who set the template for future hard rock, heavy psych and prog rock of the late '60s and beyond. Jimi Hendrix is ranked #3 in both VH1's Top 100 Greatest Artist of Rock 'n Roll and Top 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. But greatness does not improve album quality. Regarding those lists, they always only mention Jimi Hendrix and not the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Jimi hardly did anything solo and his boring blues jam album Band of Gypsys released as a solo album with another lineup, does not define his legacy. True, they were conceived as a backing band for Jimi, but both Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell contributed significantly, to the sound. They were a power trio but other power trios like Cream, ELP and Rush were more skilled and virtuosic (if not better) ensembles. This is partly because Noel got few chances to shine and Mitch, though he had a prominent drumming style, was ultimately predictable. Perhaps, if the whole focus was not on Jimi, they would have functioned more as a unit? However, as Kirk Lazarus once gloriously said... "Suck My Unit". In spite of all the shortcomings, when they were good, they were good together! And that matters! So, whoever says Hendrix was a solo artist can... suck my unit.

There is this story that weeks before his death Jimi was contemplating a band with Mitchell and Keith Emerson/Greg Lake called HELM. That never happened because Emerson and Lake found insanely talented drummer Carl Palmer. And then, there was this thought of HELP. Hendrix with ELP? Wankalicious! God had other plans for Jimi, however, and spared us that monstrosity!

CANAXIS 5 (1968)
1 Boat Woman Song (17:31)
2 Canaxis (20:19)
REVIEW DATE - Oct 31st, 2020

No, there were no four albums titled Canaxis 1, 2, 3 and 4 before this album (Canaxis 5 is name of a satellite of a distant star). And no, Rolf Dammers was not a musician on this album. He merely co-produced the album. And no, no Vietnamese musicians were involved in the making of this album either, even though I have credited Vietnam for this album. This piece of musical insanity was the brainchild of (legendary krautrock band) Can's bass guitarist Holger Czukay. He produced this album while Can were recording their debut album Monster Movie. This album has nothing at all to do with Can's music. There is no rock here, and there is not much electronic, jazz, avantgarde or funk here, the unique amalgamation of which is what Can were all about. This is purely an experimental exercise by Holger where he took around thousands of snippets from short-wave radio broadcasts and looped them while adding little electronic effects and bass to make it sound like a drone album. This is the earliest example of electronic sampling, sound collage, musique concrete and tape music recorded on to an album.

Holger was then a disciple of avantgarde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen and his influence is felt here. Coincidentally, Karheinz was working on his most popular work Hymnen around the same time. This is a piece of musical genius - who would have thought that mixing tapes of male Western classical choir with female Vietnamese a capella folk singing, with nary a lead musical instrument except minimalistic bass (there is a short section in the second piece where you could hear a koto-like instrument) would yield such hypnotic and spell-binding effect on your soul. The Vietnamese vocals are lifted from 1965 Folkways label record featuring the Cham people and the Western male vocals are a rendition of a 13th century polyphonic rondeau by troubadour Adam de la Halle. Holger, whose main motive was seeing if the two worlds can collide and produce something new, insists that this whole album was recorded in under 4 hours and should be considered live.

You have to listen to this album to believe it; it's so musical in spite of its experimental nature. I highly recommend this one-of-a-kind adventure (only 1000 copies of this were made when it was released). This will suck you in, if you listen to it on headphones. I would have loved for this to be a double album. In spite of having two long pieces, this, at 37 minutes feels too short!

SILSILA (1981)
1 Silsila Theme, Part 1 (2:12)
2 Silsila Theme, Part 2 (3:40)
3 Silsila Theme, Part 3 (3:31)
4 Neela Aasman - male (4:34)
5 Dekha Ek Khwab - dialogues (5:55)
6 Yeh Kahan Aa Gaye Hum (7:39)
7 Ladki Hain Ya Shola (3:58)
8 Neela Aasman - female (5:28)
9 Dekha Ek Khwab, Part 1 (1:26)
10 Yeh Kahan Aa Gaye Hum (7:54)
11 Rang Barse Bheege Chunarwali (6:06)
12 Dekha Ek Khwab, Part 2 (5:20)
13 Sar Se Sarke (5:41)
14 Jo Jum Thodo Piya (3:35)
15 Khud Se Joh Waada Kiya (4:06)
16 Bahan Jinah Di Pakdiye (4:06)
REVIEW DATE - Nov 6th, 2020

This is a soundtrack to a Bollywood movie which bombed in spite of being an all-star cast, rather unjustly (more about that later). For a non-Indian, let me educate a bit about Indian movies. Not all Indian movies are Bollywood movies. Bollywood is merely a film industry centered in the city of Bombay (now called Mumbai). It is used to refer to movies made in the Hindi language. Almost every state in India has its own language(s) (with several dialects). In fact, Bombay is in the state of Maharashtra whose local language is Marathi - not Hindi. But Bombay being the most metropolitan of the four major cities in India, is a city of immigrants and Hindi (apart from English) functions as a major language there. I grew up in Bombay! There is a Marathi film industry as well. But it gets overshadowed. The second biggest film industry is located in Chennai (used to be Madras), Tamil Nadu and called Kollywood. There are several other film industries including an art-movie industry called parallel cinema, which featured serious movies dealing with social issues (and does not feature songs). This movie however, is strictly commercial.

Okay, now that I have got that boring geographic intro out of the way, lets focus on the album. Indian soundtracks are unlike most Hollywood soundtracks and feature songs written by the composers but sung by hired-hand playbook singers featuring lyrics by hired-hand lyricists. The composers for this movie soundtrack are not typical Indian film music directors, but well-accomplished Hindustani classical maestros Pandit Shivkumar Sharma (santoor - a form of Indian hammered dulcimer), and Pandit Hariprasad (bansuri - Indian bamboo flute), who were popular all over the world as early as 1967 when they recorded the highest selling Indian classical album, Call Of The Valley, with another musician, guitarist Pandit Brijbushan Kabra (slide guitar). You ask, why all these musicians have same first names? Pandit merely means maestro and it is not part of their name... hehe.

This soundtrack does not feature Kabra and is a first film collaboration between Sharma and Chaurasia (who recorded many other serious classical albums). Though they composed few other soundtracks too, mostly for director Yash Chopra's movies, this debut attempt is their finest. Most of the songs are dominated by santoor and bansuri, as you would expect. Ironically, my favorite song on the album (the underrated Sar Se Sarke) does not feature much santoor or bansuri and is driven by groovy tabla and other percussion. The other highlights are the soaring Dekha Ek Khwab (Part 2), the poetic and almost spoken-word Neela Aasman (female), the dreamy Yeh Kahan Aa Gaye Hum and the folksy Rang Barse. The last three songs on the soundtrack are not memorable but good musically. The weak track on the album is Ladki Hain Ya Shola. The movie star (all-time superstar) Amitabh Bachchan sings couple of songs. He does not have a singing voice, and although he doesn't ruin it (unlike what actress Sridevi would do in the 1989 movie Chandni, also composed by Shiv-Hari), I think asking him to sing, was a misstep considering the playback singer on the other songs, the legendary Kishore Kumar, has an excellent voice and had sung numerous songs picturized on Amitabh, already.

Why did this movie bomb? Well, because the audience couldn't accept it. The plot revolves around the theme of adultery which was taboo in India around 1981 (especially in a mainstream Bollywood hoopla). Legend is that audiences walked out of some theatres midway through the movie, even though the ending would have been palatable for Indian audiences who regarded marriage as a sacred institution, back then. I think the doctored and forced ending having the adulterers abandon the extra-marital affair, ruined the movie. The interesting thing is that the adultery happening on screen was also happening in real-life too between the same couple (Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha), and the real-life wife (Jaya Bachchan) plays the reel-life wife getting cheated upon (rumor is that that it was Jaya, who forced the director to change the ending, probably claiming some sort of mental victory over Rekha). When the affair became public through tabloids, it created a major furor and brought shame to real life married couple (Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan). The acting is genuine and superb because the actors were acting the real-life events on camera, while being completely miserable; thus, pouring that misery onto the camera! And Jaya was brought back from her post-marriage retirement and promptly retired again, after this movie. What a casting coup by the director! Well, turns out Yash Chopra's choices for the two lead actresses were different and it was Amitabh who replaced those actresses with his muse and his wife. Why, oh why, Amitabh, did you do this to yourself? And after this movie, Amitabh and Rekha stopped acting together (because of Jaya) and Rekha married only once (for a mere seven months in 1990, before her husband who was in depression hung himself with her own dupatta, earning her a reputation of being a witch). And just to make things even more creepy, the other male lead Sanjeev Kumar, who plays Rekha's husband in the movie, was secretly in love with Amitabh's wife in the mid '70s.

The other star in movie who appears as a guest actor, is handsome actor Shashi Kapoor who plays Amitabh's elder brother who is also Jaya's character's boyfriend, until he gets bumped off (this was probably a bad omen for the movie's fortunes as it is Amitabh, who typically died in his successful movies, and not his frequent partner Shashi). If only they had switched the roles? But then the reel-real crisscross wouldn't have happened, as Shashi Kapoor was happily married to his white lady and not involved in this reel-real adulterous mire. But Shashi's character does manage to get Jaya's character pregnant in the beginning. And Amitabh's character achieves the same feat with Jaya's character, in the end... even though they are not in love! Confused about the storyline, yet? That's Indian cinema for you! Though impeccably acted and director, because of the somewhat improbable storyline and soft ending, the movie falls short of being a masterpiece... but the soundtrack... doesn't!

THE DOORS (1966)
1 Break On Through To The Other Side (2:25) ♕♕♕♕
2 Soul Kitchen (3:30) ♕♕
3 The Crystal Ship (2:30) ♕♕
4 Twentieth Century Fox (2:30) ♕♕
5 Alabama Song (3:15) ♕♕
6 Light My Fire (6:50) ♕♕
7 Backdoor Man (3:30) ♕♕
8 I Looked At You (2:18) ♕♕
9 End Of The Night (2:49) ♕♕
10 Take It As It Comes (2:13) ♕♕
11 The End (11:35) ♕♕♕♕♕
REVIEW DATE - Nov 7th, 2020

The two "bird groups", The Yardbirds and The Byrds, were among the first bands who experimented to create a new kind of underground psychedelic rock music - a kind of music which emulated the experience of psychedelic drugs like LSD, by using feedback on electric guitar and/or electric organ to create a distorted effect. Psychedelic rock tended to have the hypnotic effect of Indian raga or space music or blues or in some cases all three of them together. The British band Yardbirds were literally the first to did it - on their explicitly psychedelic single Heart Full of Soul (recorded as early as January 1966) on which the guitarist Jeff Beck played like guitar like a sitar. Around the same time, across the pond, The Byrds recorded their raga inspired Eight Miles High which was literally about drugs. Even the earlier era pop-oriented acts like The Beatles themselves went semi-psychedelic on their records from 1965 (the jangle pop Ticket to Ride and sitar-led raga-pop Norwegian Wood). The Beach Boys (That's Not Me - rec. March 1966) lay claim too. These were all mainstream bands who only dabbled in this kind of music with a pop angle. There was plenty of serious activity, however, in the underground. And The Doors were leaders of this movement. This album recorded between August and September 1966, is one of the earliest full-fledged psychedelic albums (and may quite be the earliest, in fact). This album predates the summer of love and earliest psychedelic singles by premier psychedelic acts like The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Hey Joe - rec. Dec 1966), Jefferson Airplane (White Rabbit - rec. Nov 1966) and Pink Floyd (Arnold Layne - rec. Jan 1967). Without the advent of psychedelic rock, there would be no hard rock, heavy psych and progressive rock. So, you get the picture - this is one massively influential album! The three best tracks on the album Break on Through, Light My Fire and The End are landmark songs, which heralded the arrival of a new era of experimentation, self-indulgence and decadence, rendering the earlier era of simple 3-minute lovey-dovey pop irrelevant, and kicking it to never-neverland. Quality-wise, this album suffers from similar pitfalls as the Hendrix debut Are You Experienced. But the highlights of the album generate enough impact to make it a (better) masterpiece and this album would have been higher if not for the carnivalesque keyboards (which actually works on many tracks)

1 Internal Flight (60:34)
REVIEW DATE - Nov 21st, 2020

I wish all my albums were single track albums - I could finish the countdown a lot quicker! Estas Tonne, who considers himself a modern-day troubadour, was born in Ukraine but really didn't stick around there for long, or for that matter, anywhere else. He has travelled all over the world assimilating music and ideas from all parts of the world. Though he played guitar as a child, he stopped playing for 11 years until the year 2001 when he moved to New York and started playing with a street musician, the violinist Michael Schulman, after listening to gypsy jazz legend Django Reinhardt's recordings with violinist Stephane Grappelli. He then, went on solo gigs all over the world while also recording albums. Though most of his albums are unknown, this one got strong reviews and spread through word of mouth (it ranks at #2560 as of the day of this writing). So, what kind of music does this album have? Is it all gypsy jazz? Does it sound like Django?

No, this is not gypsy jazz. And though it may be Django-inspired it sounds nothing like him. Estas' guitar technique may borrow some of Django's Romani traits, but he plays his guitar in a style which is a cross of flamenco and classical music, blurring the lines so much, that it is difficult to determine if this was recorded on nylon-string flamenco guitar or steel-string classical guitar. We also get faint vibes of Hindustani classical in Estas' playing which seems like a spiritual raga journey to beautiful world's unknown. The production on this album is very much electronic (the drone in the background could be synth but also could be studio feedback on the guitar). And because of its relaxed meditational style, you could also consider this new age. Wikipedia lists him under classical guitar, Romani music and fingerstyle guitar. And rateyourmusic.com has tagged this album as new age, flamenco nuevo, post-minimalism, and progressive folk. All those descriptions apply, making this album, truly one-of-a-kind, that would sounds ambient electronic to you, if you are focusing on the various sound effects and looking at the production, a virtuosic classical finger-styled guitar album if you are focusing on the intensity with which Estas plays during various sections of the album, a progressive folk album if you are looking at the various transitions and changes in intensity throughout the track, and a new age album if you are listening to this in a dark album and using it for relaxation. This record would have been flawless if not for its length. Perhaps, Estas was trying to make it CD length; if he had cut it 20 minutes shorter, it would have made a perfect LP. Regardless, this is an undeniable mysterious masterpiece from an even more elusive artist.