Bally Sagoo

Essential Ragga

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AllMusic Review by Don Snowden

Essential Ragga is Bally Sagoo with full creative control, presenting himself on a label geared to his homey audience of young Anglo-Indians. It's Bally Sagoo being a commercial producer looking to create material with mass appeal, or maybe it's Bally Sagoo being sought out and hired as a producer by Anglo-Indian artists because of his success and reputation. "Classic Punjabi folk songs in true ragga stylee!" reads the big back cover banner for the concept behind this likely set of four 12" singles with their dub B-sides and "Mera Luang Gawacha (Dub)" coming along for the ride. "Kaltieri Gut" opens very spare -- light and gentle -- with keyboard bass and synth atmospherics, but female singer Rama changes the melodic content to Indian two minutes in. Electric percussion effects dodge in and out between her and sidekick Cheshire Cat, while "Gidhian Di Raniye (Hip Hop Mix)" is funkier, Anglo-Indian ragga-hop as Afro-British Miss Lee shows good dancehall deejay flow. Bhangra percussion overtones and recognizable ragga licks surface in "Mera Launcg Gawacha (Dub)," but it never rises above dancefloor filler. "Saiyto Nee Mere Dil" sounds like a traditional Indian song by Irene Perveen but given a ragga arrangement with dub touches, guitar lines, and skank foundation here. "G.T. Road" melds rough-voiced Blackadon's rapid-fire Anglo-Jamaican rapping to Cheshire Cat's poppier Indian voicings over bhangra percussion and the most serious rolling bassline on the disc. It has real energy -- the one track that breaks away from the overall light and spare tone -- and the four dubs are sufficiently distinct to avoid the feeling you're hearing the same track over and over. "Kali Teri Gut (Dub)" uses samples of Rama's voice for dub effects in a drop in-and-out attack that may be more interesting than the original. A hidden track is a brief commercial for Wham Bam 2: a forum for Sagoo's mixology creativity -- much as Essential Ragga is geared towards his core mass audience. It's not the best introduction to Bally Sagoo as pure creator, but it does offer valuable insights into the varied milieus he worked in at a crucial career juncture.