Various Artists

The Bombay Connection, Vol. 1: Funk From Bollywood Action Thrillers

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First in what looks to be the best new series of its kind since Ethiopiques -- in this case, with a focus on the highlights of Bollywood film music beyond the well-known superstars and classics -- Bombay Connection, Vol. 1 is the kind of informative and lovingly detailed overview to thrill the heart of any music fiend. But the music is of course the key, and the 13 songs on the disc cover, as the subtitle puts it, "funk from Bollywood action thrillers" from the late '70s and early '80s. That Asian cinema traditions in particular took to fusion and explorations in sound should surprise no one familiar with them -- a similar series could be done for Hong Kong classics if it hasn't already -- but the re-combination of lush, beautifully sung and arranged Bollywood styles with all over the place breakbeats, horn sections, and sultry jazz styles resulted in some astonishing treasures. Some fusions are almost obvious, admittedly -- not poor by any means, but straightforward where singers vamp over translations of the kind of accomplished though not unique action soundtrack of the time. Others, however, find a truly unique blend. Uttam Singh's work on "Giraffe Trapping Music," done for the African-set adventure Habari, is but one example, Duane Eddy guitar lines and a lovely flute melody take the lead over a brisk, begging-to-be-sampled, stutter-and-clatter-and-repeat percussion part. Charanjit Singh's "Pyar Chahiye Keh Paisa" takes the kitchen sink approach to its limit, meanwhile, dropping in everything from swirling keyboard lines to greasy horn parts straight from America in the '30s to spindly guitar and more besides. Series creators Edo Bauman and Milan Hulsing deserve particular credit for the sheer lushness of the packaging, with exhaustive notes and essays detailing the history of the musicians involved -- rescuing many names and faces from relative oblivion as a result -- as well as the movies the pieces appeared in.

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