Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bappi Lahiri | Paapi and Humsa Hai Zamana

Listen to "Pyar Hai Gunah" from Paapi 

Listen to "Come on Come on" from Paapi

Listen to "Tanu Manu" from Humse Hai Zamana

Listen to "Aakhon Ka Salam" from Hunse Hai Zamana

Slap Pappi down.

BODEGAPOP: I was so thrilled to find Paapi in Jackson Heights last week, especially after Holly's glowing recommendation of it earlier this month. It's such a classic!

BAPPI LAHIRI: Contemporary Hindi cinema has failed Bappi Lahiri. Is there like a skeleton I can chew or pulverize into a tea that makes life livable again? The Bappi of the 80s was what we all wanted. We wanted me to sing. Bollywood has always been way fucking out there in genius scenes of pain with very little possibility of return. So, I am grateful to god for giving me the direction to create another memorable hit in Pappi

BODEGAPOP: How would you characterize that direction?

BAPPI LAHIRI: Well, I wanted to achieve a more “meta” state, so I went through EVERY reel of Zeenat Aman, sifting for days through footages of her getting gas or visiting the bathroom for two-second dialogues. If you remember, my international collaborations started way back when I bought Samantha Fox. At that point, I was doing 37 films a year, it was such an explosive bed of landmines from which to fabricate my intricate soundscapes, to make my virtual puppets sing anything I might fancy, to become Bappi's mouthpiece to the world.

BODEGAPOP: Were you satisfied with Zeenat's performance?

BAPPI LAHIRI: Bappi Lahiri will always be a trendsetter within the Music Industry. Well, there’s Brian Wilson but he’s sort of retarded. And there’s Phil Spector, I guess, but he killed that Hard Rock Cafe hostess. Bappi is a very humble, nice boy. He has a black belt.

BODEGAPOP: I have to say, this CD sounds like an LP rip, but of an LP that has been on serious rotation since it was first printed in 1977. Can you talk about pop culture preservation standards in the subcontinent?

BAPPI LAHIRI: What today people call as disco was very different from what I gave 30 years back. When I first came to the United States two years after Paapi in 1979 on a world tour, I visited a couple of night clubs and they were playing John Travolta’s music and I asked the DJ about the details of it. He plainly put it as a disc played in the night. That was Disco. 

BODEGAPOP: But this record predates that.

BAPPI LAHIRI: I have survived this industry 40 years because of divine support. Like Philip K. Dick, I got struck in the forehead with a pink laser, but instead of 6,000 pages of religious revelations, I have composed songs for 466 films so far, in Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam, Bengali and Tamil. It is all because of the god up there.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bappi Lahiri | Disco Dancer +

Listen to "I Am a Disco Dancer" from Disco Dancer

Listen to "Auva Auva Koi Yahan Nache" from Disco Dancer

Listen to the title song from Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki

Listen to "Jeena Bhi Kya Koi Jeena Hai" from Kasam Paida Wale Ki

D is for down.

BODEGAPOP: You were born Alokesh Lahiri. Why "Bappi"?

BAPPI LAHIRI: You have asked me a very difficult question. When I met Michael Jackson in 1996, he appreciated Bappi's east-west blend of disco. He used to say: "You are coming from 'Jimmi Jimmi' country," after the "Jimmy Jimmy Aaja Aaja" number from Disco Dancer. As I explained to him, early on Lataji called me by my childhood nickname, Bhappi, and because of this the entire music industry thought I was Bhappi. So from Bhappi to Bappi da to Bling Bling Bappi da.

BODEGAPOP: Speaking of Michael Jackson, "Jeena Bhi Kya Koi Jeena Hai" seems to open with the bass riff from Jackson's "Billie Jean" ... and "Auva Auva Koi Yahan Nache" lifts the bouncy keyboard riff and "Oh-Wah-Ohs" from the Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star." 

BAPPI LAHIRI: In Bappi's era we adapted songs and tunes. But that was one or two songs out of 10. Today, the condition is so poor. A recent album had six songs, all of which were lifts. I don't know where that leaves originality.

BODEGAPOP: When I picked this CD up in Jackson Heights today, I wasn't prepared to like Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki so much -- even more so than Disco Dancer, which of course is one of my all-time faves.

BAPPI LAHIRI: I have a special attachment with Disco Dancer, which was not much popular in India. In Russia and China it was a super hit. 

BODEGAPOP: Why do you think that was?

BAPPI LAHIRI: Others like watching others looking at others. It's an endless series of fun house mirrors.

BODEGAPOP: "Bling Bling Bappi da"?

BAPPI LAHIRI: Jewelry is a part of Bappi Lahiri's identity. I have a craze for buying gold whenever possible; gold is lucky for me--gold and precious watches (time). This locket, in fact, when Michael Jackson visited me in Mumbai, he praised this locket very much. 

BODEGAPOP: To what do you attribute your success?

BAPPI LAHIRI: If Bappi has been able to create music that makes small children to middle age people to old adults dancing, it is because of the pulse which I think is given by god.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bappi Lahiri | Zakhmee and Aap Ki Khatir

"Nothing Is Impossible!" 

Not even this.

BODEGAPOP: You were born in Calcutta in 1952, an only child of two famous musicians: Your father, Aparesh, was a singer, and your mother--

BAPPI LAHIRI: What would you do if you inherited a pizzeria from your uncle? Bappi was trained in every aspect of music, and even at the tender age of three, beating out great rhythms on the tabla, I knew that I would become nationally famous, internationally famous, superinternationally famous.

BODEGAPOP: So, Zakhmee ... it's your breakout soundtrack, yeah?

BAPPI LAHIRI: Bappi wrote the music and sang playback for Zakhmee (1975), which brought me to the heights of fame and brought forth a new era in the Hindi film industry. Bappi rose from strength to strength, and the music for my subsequent films were tremendously popular, placing Bappi on the pedestal of stardom, making me the youngest music director of my time to have attained such intense success in such a short duration.

BODEGAPOP: You're considered one of the pioneers of disco in India--

BAPPI LAHIRI: Bappi Lahiri is widely recognized throughout India as the sole originator of the disco beat in India. Why do you think only a small percentage of the population makes over $150K? My refreshing, vibrant, and rhythmic music had the entire nation dancing for decades.

BODEGAPOP: They're still dancing. We're still dancing.

BAPPI LAHIRI: Even in the 2010s, Bappi Lahiri’s reign and popularity with the masses remains as strong as ever. How many piano tuners can there be in the world?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bappi Lahiri | Namak Halaal and Sharaabi

Listen to "Jawani Jan-E-Man" from Namak Halaal 

Listen to "Thodisi Jo Pee Lee Hai" from Namak Halaal

Listen to "De De Pyar De" from Sharaabi 

Get both soundtracks here.

Another winner from Bollywood's sexiest sexagenarian, Bappi Lahiri. In truth, I picked this up years ago, mainly for Sharaabi's "De De Pyar De," which I loved. I still haven''t seen Namak Halaal, though it has the far superior soundtrack. Both films star Amitabh Bachchan, aka "The Big B"--virtually the single most popular human being on the planet. (When I saw him live at Lincoln Center many years ago the ovation when he came out on stage was like what you'd have expected for the Beatles ca. 1964.) 

I'm up in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., for work tonight and a bit of tomorrow; we'll see what I'm able to post while here (I have several things in the queue). Meanwhile, I'm guessing you're going to enjoy this evening's double soundtrack if you pull it down and give it a listen ...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

More Rare Cambodian Rock | CSP Disc 11

Listen to track 7

Listen to track 14

You've heard 15 before, right?

Get the whole 17-track CD here.

Another rock-solid--if slower, bluesier--collection of Cambodian rock from the 1960s-70s, found at Thai-Cam Video on Foster Road in Portland, Oregon last month. I have one more of these that I'll post soon, as well as several more-or-less contemporary Cambodian, Lao, Thai and Vietnamese albums plucked from the City of Roses. Plus, I just got a rather impressive new stash of Tamil Film CDs, Bengali modern songs, more Bappi Lahiri than you can shake a Bappi at--and a few other surprises waiting in the wings.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Somphone Phetnamsanh | Broken Heart

Break your heart across the first track 

Allow track 8 to smash into smaller pieces what remains of your heart after having heard the first track 

Pound your heart into dust.

It almost never happens with proper names, and it isn't going to happen again soon with Somphone Phetnamsanh's, but prior to my posting of this album, had you typed SP's full name into the search field on the home page belonging to Larry Page and Sergey Brin's multinational corporation providing internet-related products and services, including internet search, cloud computing, software and advertising technologies, you'd have received the following message:

Your search - somphone phetnamsanh - did not match any documents.

It's baffling. Especially considering the Fort Knox-level anti-copyright infringement warnings printed on the verso of Broken Heart's cover sleeve:

Equally perplexing is the complete absence of Sainuphieng Music Productions on the web as well. Baffling, in part, because the CD, CD jewel case and CD cover are all in what appear to be brand-spanking-new condition. 

I just typed Sainuphieng Music Productions' address, 4468 Breckenridge Way, Sacramento, CA, into Google Maps then clicked on Street View:

As you'll see, there is no sign of life in that house, which looks utterly empty through the windows. The lawn--unlike those belonging to the houses on either side--is dead and brown. There is a massive white industrial grade trash bin in the driveway, filled to the brim. The photo, by Google, has a 2011 copyright date. 

So it's a mystery who Somphone Phetnamsanh is, or was, and when this music was recorded. But what is clear is that he recorded Broken Heart at SNP Music Production, in Sacramento, Calif., or, at the very least, he used SNP's workstation keyboards to create the album. "Look!" the inside front cover demands, "All These Digital Keyboards Come With Lao Styles, a Hardrive And Oriental Styles." (Gary want.)

This poses a serious question, though: How many of the CDs that I've plucked from coast to shining coast were not, as outsiders such as ourselves might imagine, produced abroad and shipped in to the United States, but rather, created here and then distributed to the target immigrant population and, perhaps, back to the homeland? 

This is actually the subject of a longish academic article by Kieu Linh Caroline Valverde, "Making Transnational Vietnamese Music," which looks at the production and distribution of Viet Kieu, music performed by the Vietnamese living outside of Vietnam (a lot of which I also picked up while in Portland). It's an article I plan to read the moment I sign off here. 

More, obviously, on this subject soon ...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Waiphot Phetsuphan | The History of Princess Suphankanlaya

Dig the first track 

Wrastle with the second track 

Come to papa

Um, Peter, could you come in here a moment, please? 

So, I got this CD at Thai-Cam Video (5230 Southeast Foster Road, Portland, Ore.) and it's not quite like anything I've heard before. I think it's Thai and am guessing luk thung. But the guy singing (whom I've taken to calling "Inset Thai Guy" or "Inset" for short) is doing something in some of these songs that I've never quite heard before, lots of long, drawn-out, occasionally flat or otherwise slightly off "uhhhnnn"s, "ahhhhnnnns" and the like, and a generally sort of almost exclamatory kind of half singing. 

Is it a style? Or is it simply The Magic of Inset? [Update: See comments, where Yoshio provides the singer's name and Peter provides context for the style and album.]

As I've been hinting (read: bragging) for several posts now, I totally scored while in Portland last December, much of the take coming from two visits to Thai Cam Video, a media and grocery store run by a woman named Nang who told me she moved to Portland in 1980 from Cambodia by way of Thailand. Nang is half Cambodian, half Burmese and, although I did not ask her, I assume she left Cambodia for Thailand in the 70s for what would be rather obvious reasons. 

Nang opened Thai Cam Video in 2003, which means she's been in business nearly a decade, a comforting fact, considering that I didn't expect the place would still be there on this trip. (I'd first discovered it on a trip to the west coast in 2009 and when I called in advance of this recent trip, there was no answer.) I wanted to ask Nang more about her life, but didn't want to pry too much, so I asked her if it was possible to get good Cambodian food in the area. It was: Mekong Bistro, 8200 NE Siskiyou Street, where I wound up having my first-ever taste of amok trey, which I implore each and every one of you reading this right now to seek out and try at least once before you exit your earthly form. 

Nang also told me where to find Cambodian and Lao temples in the area. (There is, I hadn't realized before, a sizable southeast Asian population in the area. For instance, block after block of Vietnamese businesses on the way to the airport that I only noticed, alas, on the way to the airport.) Nang asked for my contact info in case she ever made it out to New York; I was surprised to hear that she'd never been to the east coast. I bought an obscene number of Cambodian, Lao and Thai CDs from her, creating two sizable towers near the register before my friend Rodney returned to rescue me from taking another dive back into the stacks.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Unknown Cambodian CD dated 1996

Listen to the mind-blowing second track

Listen to the broken ethereality that is the third song

Attempt to wrap your mind around the snakey male-female duo of track seven

Get the baffling whole here.

I have a lot I'd like to say about this and a couple dozen other fabulous CDs I picked up at Thai-Cam Video in Portland, Oregon last month ... but it's in the 50s in Queens today, and I need me some bike time. Let's reconvene in a couple of days when the weather forces us both back indoors again, yeah?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Upper Hutt Posse | Te Reo Maori Remixes

Listen to "Te Hono Whakakoro" 

Listen to "Tangata Whenua" 

Listen to "Anei Ko Te Wiya" from the bonus MC Wiya disc

Grab it all here.

One of the many projects I've been working on recently has been the steady compiling of songs for a politicized global rap mix. So imagine my Blueberry Hill-level thrill when, tonight after work, I decided to stop by the Asia Society to check out the super freaky Lin Tianmiao show and, in a remainder bin in the bookstore, found this CD by hyper-politicized Aotearoa / New Zealand hip-hop group, Upper Hutt Posse. 

This band, which got its start playing  reggae in 1985, is probably the greatest thing musically to have ever come out of this particular Polynesian island country. In addition to socially-conscious lyrics, the music itself is utterly thrilling, as thrilling in places as Public Enemy was in their day. (Don't believe me? Give "Tangata Whenua" a whirl.)

From the band's Wikipedia page:
UHP formed as a four-piece reggae band in 1985. Since their inception, Dean Hapeta (also known as D Word or Te Kupu) and the Posse have been fighting racial injustice through their music. In 1988 they released New Zealand's first rap record and their first 12-inch hip hop record, "E Tū", through Jayrem Records. The song combined African American revolutionary rhetoric with an explicitly Māori frame of reference. It pays homage to the rebel Māori warrior chiefs of Aotearoa's colonial history, Hone Heke, Te Kooti, and Te Rauparaha.
Writing about the band, Stephen Zepke insisted that "Upper Hutt Posse aren't a symptom of the recent rise in Maori activism, they're a cause." 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Bappi Lahiri | Dance Dance

Listen to the title song 

Listen to "Zindagi Meri Dance" 

Listen to "Dil Mera Todo Na" 

Dance is life; life is dance. Live it. [Alas, Divshare removed access to this file.]

I'm sorry. Can someone please explain how it is that I've been running this more-or-less respectable online free music bodega for the last three years without having once whipped out the ol' Bappi? 

Look: I know how much you hate it when the creepy proprietor hovers around you like this. You just want to anonymously peruse the shelves, your pretty head free of care. This is your "me" time. The last thing in the world you want to see is me coming around the register and pulling down "must listen"s with my half-clenched, talon-like hands. But this time I just can't help myself. Seriously. Take a seat, I implore you. 

I realize the samples above are long. Very, very long. And they don't hit their grooves, most of them, for a full minute, minute-and-a-half, two minutes. But MY GOD do they groove. 

I'm sorry, I'm making you cringe. I can see that. I'll back off a bit. 

Is this far enough away? 


I just ... it's ... FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY WILL YOU PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DOWNLOAD THIS ALBUM ALREADY?!? Really, I swear to you, this is easily one of the most devastatingly fabulous pieces of pop trash you have ever heard. I don't care how much Algerian Rai, how much Bollywood, how many Cambodian Rocks, how much Dabke, how many Ethiopian Grooves you've spent your time on earth stuffing into your ears.

This album is a revelation. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Hassan Dikouk & Najat Aatabou | Hassan Dikouk & Najat Aatabou

Listen to "Ya Salam Alik Ya Madame"

Are you wanting a copy?

As you've probably noticed by now, I'm back from vacation, fully energized, and readier than ever to move product. As I indicated in previous posts, I picked up quite the stash of Cambodian, Lao, Thai and Vietnamese CDs while in Stumptown last month; however, because I couldn't fit them in my suitcase I shipped them all in boxes to my office -- meaning I won't actually see them until this coming Monday when I drag my sad, tired, "is the vaycay really ovay?" ass back in to work.

Meanwhile, holy crap, it looks like I still have oodles of awesome CDs I haven't yet placed on the shelves here. 

This one, a relatively recent recording by the great Najat Aatabou in collaboration with Hassan Dikouk, I almost certainly picked up in Marakkesh -- I suspect this because the CD back cover has been inserted backwards into the CD case, meaning you're meant to open it from the point of view of someone who reads from right to left.

But, honestly? That's just a guess and it's quite possible I picked it up at the now defunct Princess Music in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

Wherever I got this, it most certainly rawks, though if you're looking for something more "trad," you should click on the link two paras above, where the indefatigable Tim Abdellah has posted three early recordings of the so-called "Siren of Khemisset" (though I found nothing there by Dikouk).

And speaking of Tim ... his last postings at Moroccan Tape Stash were back in October. Come out, come out, wherever you are! We miss you ...

Friday, January 4, 2013

Hang on the Box | "No Sexy"

Listen to "No Sexy"

An article I wrote about Hang on the Box, China's first all-girl punk unit, just went live at Burning Ambulance. Read it here.