Various Artists

Bombay Disco, Vol. 2

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Brother Cleve, Combustible Edison's keyboardist/composer, curated and produced the debut volume in this Culture of Soul Records series that documents the genre in Bollywood films during the 1980s and '90s. He assembled this follow-up set as well. Disco came to India about the time it ended in America and England, 1979 to be exact, with the release of Bappi Lahiri's "Mausam Hai Gaane Ka" from the film Surakhsha: Gunmaster G9. While the first volume focused on the years 1979-1985, this dozen-track set begins in 1980 and continues right through the scene's nadir in 1992. But what a decline it was! The opening cut here, "Saat Samundar Paar" by Sadhana Sargam, reveals just how much evolution took place in 13 years. Supporting her soaring vocal are pulsing sequencers, an E-mu Emulator copping the vamp from the Pet Shop Boys' "Heart," a sampled tabla loop, and a harmonica solo that sounds like it came straight from a spaghetti western theme 20 years earlier. Other major league Indian singers appear here also: Asha Bhosle and Lahiri deliver a pair of tracks each which are stellar. There are tracks with R.D. Burman's ("Disco Music," a space-psych dancefloor masterpiece from 1982) and Kishore Kumar's ("Aaya Sanam Aaya Deewana Tera," from the same year, where jazz, funk, and disco meet Hindi pop) choruses. Other highlights include Sharda's seemingly satiric "Hotel Mein Bottle" from 1984 that transposes raw, hard-driving disco through new wave attitude, and the nine-plus-minute "Main Jaadugar," from Kumar Sanu, Jolly Mukherjee, and a chorus from 1989, where a Roland 808, flutes, fat horn and string charts, keyboard, bass, and synthetic and organic drums all weave together under pop, carnatic, classical, and disco melodies in a sonic (and rhythmic) extravaganza -- there's also a brief Theremin solo. It's true that the sound quality here varies -- many of these tracks were actually recorded in mono -- but it hardly matters. This is an excellent companion to the debut volume and creates anticipation for others to follow.

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