One of the things about being a big crate digger is that sometimes you come across artists who are full of funk, when you wouldn’t expect it. Today’s selection is a perfect example of that. The surname Shankar is of course well-known in the Indian sitar world and Ananda is the nephew of the most famous of them all, Ravi, who sadly passed away last year.
You would think with an uncle like Ravi as an inspiration that Ananda would have gained all his musical talent through learning from Ravi himself. However it was Lalmani Misra another highly regarded sitar player who was to be the main influence for Ananda’s musical education. A spell in L.A. (where he played alongside Jimmi Hendrix) was to further shape his musical direction and led to the unique East-Meets-West vibe that Shankar was to pioneer.
Today’s selection is of course a cover of the Rolling Stones mega hit and is backed with a cover of yet another immensely popular track from the West, The Doors’ “Light My Fire”. Released in 1970, this was to be Shankar’s only single release until 1977 when an E.P. was released as a tribute to Elvis shortly after his death entitled “India Remembers Elvis” where Shankar reworks The King’s “His Latest Flame” in trademark funky style.
Shankar’s work remained largely unknown outside of India until the late 80s/early 90s when it was picked up by a number of djs/collectors on the Rare Groove/Acid Jazz scene. Because his albums were only released in India, stories were told of how collectors would travel to India with the specific intention of purchasing as many copies of his albums as they could get their hands on in order to sell on for a tidy profit back in good old Blighty!
Shankar’s first 2 LPs (the eponymously titled debut in 1970 & “Ananada Shankar & His Music” released 5 years later) were truly groundbreaking in their sound. Listening to the two records takes you on a psychedelic trip with pounding drums, tabla, mardangam, sitar and spacey Moog. The finest examples of these sounds coming together are to be found on the fantastic “Streets Of Calcutta” and “Dancing Drums” which both feature on the second album.
I urge you to buy the first two records even if you aren’t lucky enough to turn up original copies and have to make do with the reissues as in my opinion they should be filed under “Must Have” and you really can’t get a higher accolade than that.