Various Artists

Bombay Disco: Disco Hits from Hindi Films 1979-1985

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Compiled by former Combustible Edison keyboardist/composer Brother Cleve, this set of 13 dancefloor slammers by Cultures of Soul Records is the real thing. The music comes from the Bollywood soundtracks of movies made in the aftermath of Saturday Night Fever's success. The time period chronicled here is between 1979 and 1985. From the soundtrack of Surakhsha: Gunmaster G9 is Bappi Lahiri's "Mausam Hai Gaane Ka," the first certifiable Mumbai disco hit. With its four-on-the-floor beat (played not only by a drum kit, but hand percussion), lead vocal reverb effects (some even resembling a vocorder), female chorus, swirling strings, bombastic horns, and a melody that borrows from Morricone's spaghetti Westerns in the refrain, one needs to hear it to believe it. As might be expected on an album of Bollywood soundtrack jams, powerhouse singer Asha Bhosle is heavily featured here, on five cuts to be exact. While the space disco groove that is "Udi Baba" is her finest moment on the set, her duet with Lahiri on "Bugi Bugi" is also a clear standout. He appears on another album highlight, the manic "Karate," with Amit Kumar, orchestrated by roiling tablas, an enormous female backing chorus, enough layered strings to put Barry White to shame, an out-of-tune horn section, and a burning bassline. "Disco '82," with its cheesy synth lines and trancelike bassline, is sung by Bhosle's sister Lata Mangeshkar with Kumar and a chorus; a poignant sitar underscores the handclaps and keyboard vamps. Weirdly enough, despite its title, it's a devotional tune, as is opener "Hai Om Hari" -- a mantra set to a frantic disco arrangement. While the sound quality does vary, all of these selections were remastered from the EMI source tapes. The single weirdest tune here is "Dil Dil Dil, Kabhi Dil De Bhi To Do," which weaves Blue Beat ska, disco, funk, syncopated jive handclaps, and even new wave into a deliriously happy anthem delivered by Bhosle. In addition to the music, Cleve wrote a killer liner essay, which includes interview quotes from Lahiri. The full-color booklet reproduces album art and includes excellent track-by-track annotation and notes.

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