102. Shivkumar Sharma, Brijbushan Kabra and Hariprasad Charasia – Call of the Valley

Call of the Valley

Well that was different.

Covering 1001 albums*  was always going to mean exploring new territory, but while forays into jazz, swing and blues have been par for the course, I never expected to stray into Hindustani classical music. But here we are.

This is, in many ways, a gorgeous album. Culturally significant on the count of the fact it was a major influence on George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roger McGuinn and David Crosby, it had a big impact on opening up Indian music to the west, and you can imagine it being played at that awkward hippy dinner party moment between the vegan desert and someone rolling up a massive spliff.

There’s no doubting the musical chops of Shivkumar Sharma and the rest of the group on this album. It mixes western acoustic guitar with rich sitar and santoor, and those interludes where the tabla breaks out into a crisp percussive beat are delicious for the ears.

It’s mellow, drifting and immersive, and it probably wasn’t a good idea to turn on the Active Noise Cancellation on my headphones while I listened to it in a warm office at ten to five on a Thursday. Still,  while I can’t see many tracks on here making it onto my gym playlist, it’s an album that’s worth enjoying, if only for hearing the source of George Harrison’s inspiration first hand.

* Actually I worked out by the time I add the odds and ends of the 2005, 2009 and 2013 editions of the book together it’s more like 1048 albums now.

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