Ali Akbar Khan/Ravi Shankar/Ustad Amir Khan: Psychedelic India

Track List

Album Notes

Indian music? Most definitely. Psychedelic? Well, Psychedelic India seems like an inappropriate title considering that these four pieces were recorded in 1959, long before psychedelia became a notable influence in contemporary music, and long before Indian music became a notable influence in psychedelic rock. Not to mention that Ravi Shankar, the most famous of the artists heard on this CD, disapproved of audience members listening to his music under the influence of drugs. But while the title might be misleading, this does have 79 minutes of quality Indian ragas, recorded at a time when this form of music was much less well-known in the West than it would be in subsequent decades. Accompanying Shankar on the first two tracks, "Raga Palas Kafi" (which includes some free improvisation) and "Raga Bilashkani Todi" (based on a traditional morning raga), is the renowned Ali Akbar on sarod. Singer Ustad Amir Khan is the artist of record for the third selection, "Raga Marwa," the most somber and droning of the pieces. Shankar returns, accompanied by Alla Rakha on tabla, for "Raga Madhu-Kauns," which picks up markedly in tempo when Rakha joins in near the end. Although the fidelity on these tracks is a tad inferior to, and less full than, many of the recordings the artists would subsequently make, that's not a significant drawback to the enjoyment of pieces that are on par with their later work performance-wise. Even beyond the questionable title, however, the packaging doesn't complement the music as well as it should; the liner notes offer basic overviews of the artists, but few specific comments on the contents of this particular compilation. ~ Richie Unterberger



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