Are you ready to zip up your paisley caftan and trip out?
Whether you’re ready or not, you’re gonna get some Ananda Shankar, right in your third eye.
I was after this album for a long time when I finally scored a copy a few years back.
To answer the most obvious question first, Ananda Shankar was in fact related to the master Ravi Shankar, being the son of famed Indian dancer (brother of Ravi) Uday.
He migrated to Los Angeles in the late 60s, and made his way into the recording studio, laying down the record you see before you today.
The self-titled LP was released in 1970, produced by Alex Hassilev (who had been an original member of the Limeliters, alongside Glenn Yarbrough) and former Electric Prune James Lowe.
What you get is a mixture of pop-inflected originals featuring Shankar’s sitar (naturally) as well as some fairly tasteful Moog synthesizer action by Paul Lewinson. I stress the “tasteful” angle, since so many records saw the Moog used like so much psychedelic cake frosting.
The backing group on the record included prominent studio heads like Jerry Scheff on bass and ex-Raider Drake Levin on guitar.
The tracks I feature today illustrate the two sides of the LP.
The opener, ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ is simply the most remarkable piece of late-60s, light-show, au-go-go freakout.
Starting out with fuzz guitar and synth, the drums and handclaps kick in and before you know it you’re (happily) trapped in a dayglo intersection of the Banana Splits and Owsley’s basement.
The sound reminds me a lot of Dave Grusin’s mighty ‘Ascencion to Virginity’ from the ‘Candy’ OST.
‘Metamorphosis’ leans more in the direction of mellow, ever so slightly new agey head music, once again mixing the Moog and the sitar tastefully. You also get a groovy drum/table break, and then things get even trippier.
Shankar went on to record the album ‘Ananda Shankar and his Music’, which is sought out by funk collectors and tends to change hands for over 100 bucks.
Fortunately, this LP is much easier to find on the cheap, and is a great listen all the way through.
I hope you dig it, and I’ll see you next week.
And, oh yeah, Merry Christmas!