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Masters and new rockers

September 13, 2003 17:14 IST

A good monsoon is always expected to bring about multiplier effects that boost purchasing power, and if you are wondering whether this is the right month to splurge, the answer is a wholehearted yes.

Under its Sur ki Koi Seema Nahin umbrella, Virgin music has just launched a compilation of qawwalis sung by the genre's eternal doyen, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

The compilation CDs priced at Rs 199 each will feature ghazal maestros Mehndi Hassan, Ghulam Ali, Farida Khanum amongst others.

While Nusrat's voice never needed a corporate sponsor to reach out to ears around the world, the same cannot be said of Fuzon -- a rock band from across the border.

Their album Saagar, priced at Rs 199, has been co-sponsored by Elle 18, and the band is being touted as the next big thing in fusion music.

Big thing they certainly aren't if you are looking for Jazz-Carnatic overtures in their compositions.

Shafqat Ali, the frontman of the band, possesses a powerful and seasoned voice that eases through complex taan patterns and harkats, but the music isn't really fusion.

Compositions on ragas like khamaj and madhuvanti have been given distortion pedal kicks and infectious rhythm grooves, and it's certainly good listening, especially the soulful Aankhon ke Saagar -- enough to guarantee the band assignments in Bollywood .

One sore point, however, is that even a good band like Fuzon is swayed by pedestrian market dynamics.

The last track Akhiyaan -- the only Punjabi rock song -- was made into a music video but is not one of the better songs in this otherwise good effort by the Pakistani trio.

Moving on to the best album of the month -- it's the latest offering from the grand daddies of hard rock, Deep Purple.

After a five-year hiatus following their last album Abandon, Deep Purple are back with Bananas -- an album title inspired by a newspaper photograph that bassist and oldest band member Roger Glover happened to chance upon.

The compositions are replete with catchy melodies, Steve Morse's trademark guitar solos, Ian Paice's magic on the cymbals and the majestic voice of Ian Gillan. This is as good as anything they've done in the past.

Haunted is already being touted as an all-time great rock ballad, and Silver Tongue, Razzle Dazzle and Never A Word (a personal favourite) might soon figure on most requested tracks on stations and charts across the world.

While the musicians continue to live up to their reputations and Ian Gillan's Jesus Christ Superstar voice continues to flower like nurtured wine, newest member Don Airey does a commendable job in fitting into the shoes of legendary organ player Jon Lord.

Lord left the band last year to pursue a career in classical music. Purple fans will be looking forward to that one, especially after his roaring work in the Concerto series at the Royal Albert Hall.

What one should not look out for is the Big Indian album just released by Ayush Maheshwari, titled Motu Badtameez.

The 200-kilo hulk Ayush fought all sorts of public humiliation on account of his weight, and today is one of the youngest directors on the Fortune 500 list of companies.

That's fine, but why should one invest in a CD to listen to gutter-worthy music? Uplifting music for the overweight? Vandana Luthra can take the cue and start singing -- surely she (or for that matter anybody) would do better.

And if the idea was to propagate to people of his size that it doesn't really matter if airlines charge a premium on overweight passengers, or the WHO treats obesity as a disease, then listeners should save the Rs 200 and treat themselves to a double combo Maharaja Mac, for better value.

The bottomline for successful businessmen who have the creative pang and the money to splurge: if you have money, there are recording companies around to make you a quasi-popstar. Buyers have been warned.

Soumik Sen