Various Artists

Bombay Connection, Vol. 2: Bombshell Baby of Bombay: Bouncin' Nightclub Grooves...

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The second disc in the series of classic Bollywood songs covered by the Bombay Connection label steps back a bit in time from the first disc, focusing instead on, to quote the sleeve, "bouncin' nightclub grooves from Bollywood films, 1959-1972." As an illuminating liner note essay from Naresh Fernandes explains, many films during that era featured a nightclub sequence either as backdrop or as a central location, often to showcase a new and often (to conservative values) threatening moral modernity. As a bit of having one's cake and eating it too, it was a clever move, but even smarter was getting some great music, and once more the series compilers have struck gold with a slew of fantastic songs. The most famous song to American audiences would be "Jan Pahechan Ho," originally from the 1965 film Gumnaam but featured in a brief but notable clip in the film Ghost World many years later. In full it's a brilliant, dramatic number, with guitar, horns and drums almost as all over the place as an Esquivel arrangement, while singer Mohammed Rafi sings with verve and confidence. It's just one example of any number of honestly swinging songs, full of sheer giddy excitement, not to mention some strong instrumental skill, unsurprising given the amount of film soundtracks the featured performers and singers worked on. "One Two Three Baby," from 1968's Kismat, showcases another legend, Asha Bhosle herself, in a duet with Mahendra Kapoor, but arguably the extended introduction steals the show, with O.P. Nayyar's music hitting everything from classic big-band jazz to electric guitar twang and a killer moment of dramatic silence after a great drum break and before Kapoor starts counting off the title. Meanwhile, Iqbal Singh's astounding Elvis impersonation courtesy of the title track has to be heard to be believed. Photos, biographies and more add to the value of this excellent compilation.

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