Various Artists

The Greatest Songs Ever: India

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The rather eccentric Greatest Songs Ever series continues with this rather eccentric compilation of tracks, not all of which are songs, not all of which are from India, and not all of which, it must be said, are great. All of them are at least from South Asia, however, and although the legendary Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan might well have been offended to find himself categorized as Indian on this collection, listeners are all the richer for the compilers' ignorance (or willful disregard). As one might expect, his contribution is the class of the program, but there are some other inspiring selections as well: Lata Mangeshkar's "Aye-Dil-E-Nadan" is gorgeous, and her "Honton Mein Aisi Maat" is a glorious throwback to cheesy Indian pop recordings of yesteryear, complete with lugubrious strings and a generally loungy atmosphere. The presence of the Bill Laswell/Karsh Kale vehicle Tabla Beat Science is a bit jarring, but the final track, a dark, melismatic piece dominated by the closely miked bamboo flute of Hariprasad Chaurasia, is a spectacular finale to a strange but ultimately quite satisfying compilation of Indian music both new and not-so-new. Maybe not essential, but recommended.

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