Lakshminarayana Shankar

Touch Me There

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Indian violinist L. Shankar's debut LP in America is a wide-ranging affair and quite unlike his later albums of Indian classical music with tabla and ghatam. Frank Zappa, who added Shankar to his band for a few concerts during a late 1970s tour, produced this record and sings (under the pseudonym Stucco Holmes) on a piece he co-wrote with the violinist, "Dead Girls of London." This hard rocker is followed by the considerably mellower "Windy Morning," showcasing his incredible technique on electric violin with overdubs, though the leader's solos grow more intense with each chorus. Shankar's one vocal on the album, "Knee Deep in Heaters," is also the least interesting track, with a rather bland lyric by Zappa. "Darlene" is a complex piece that demands a lot of Shankar and Phil Palmer (heard on both guitar and mandolin). The strange ballad "Touch Me There" has an odd vocal by Jenny Lautrec, who seems to have trouble following her cue at the beginning of one chorus. "No More Mr. Nice Girl" is an extended, upbeat rocker, jointly written by Shankar and Zappa, that incorporates Jack Emblow's accordion in addition to some exotic keyboard work by James Lascelles, wrapping with a blazing finale by the violinist. This LP should be considered an uneven but worthwhile effort for the short-lived Zappa Records, though it was reissued on CD eventually.

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