When el­ton John Is Your DJ…

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Brunch - - INDULGE -

IDON’T KNOW if you have but I hadn’t heard Syreeta Wright till last week. And I prob­a­bly wouldn’t have if I hadn’t cho­sen to lis­ten to a pro­gramme on an In­ter­net ra­dio chan­nel that I have now de­cided I shall not miss – more on that in a bit. Wright, a soul and R&B singer, sang and recorded with greats such as Billy Pre­ston and Ste­vie Won­der. The lat­ter is some­one that we are all so fa­mil­iar with that I won’t elab­o­rate on be­sides men­tion­ing that Wright who died in 2004 was briefly mar­ried to him. About Pre­ston, how­ever, I will. Any­one re­mem­ber The Con­cert for Bangladesh? The two same-day ben­e­fit gigs in New York City’s Madi­son Square Gar­den in 1971 that were or­gan­ised by exBea­tle George Har­ri­son and sitar mae­stro Ravi Shankar? If you do and if you’ve heard the al­bum (orig­i­nal vinyl triple or the re-mas­tered two-disc reis­sue) or watched the film (if you haven’t you must!) will surely re­mem­ber Har­ri­son and Pre­ston do­ing a rous­ing gospel song, That’s the Way God Planned It. When I heard that Wright had col­lab­o­rated with Pre­ston, I pulled out my copy of The Con­cert for Bangladesh and spun a few tracks that filled me with pleas­ant nos­tal­gia. But I di­gress. This isn’t about Pre­ston; nor is it about the fa­mous gig that Har­ri­son and Shankar or­gan­ised. It’s about a playlist.

The song I heard Syreeta (she of­ten recorded un­der her first name) sing was I Can’t Give Back the Love I Feel for You,

…you dis­cover new mu­si­cians and un­earth clas­sic old gems, in­tro­duced with rare nuggets of in­for­ma­tion and a per­sonal touch

vo­cals howl un­der the ro­bust in­flu­ence of le­gions of blues and soul singers of the deep south. A mu­si­cian to dis­cover, fol­low and savour.

On that same playlist, I heard Jimi Hen­drix’s Hey Joe (nos­tal­gia once again); pre­ceded by folk-rocker Ray LaMon­tagne’s Ourobouros and fol­lowed by Let’s Groove, a funky up­beat song by Earth, Wind & Fire – re­mem­ber them? One of the long­est last­ing African-Amer­i­can bands whose huge body of work and scores of mu­si­cians who’ve been part of its en­sem­ble, Earth, Wind & Fire are dif­fi­cult to cat­e­gorise – their mu­sic spans mul­ti­ple gen­res – from funk to groove to disco to rock and roll and R&B. They are also con­sid­ered one of Amer­ica’s most suc­cess­ful bands and al­though their line-up has changed several times, they’re still go­ing strong.

That same playlist, which had 12 care­fully cu­rated songs (in­clud­ing all of the above and more) ended with a band I’d never heard of – Ken­ton Slash De­mon, a Dan­ish elec­tro-House duo whose track, Peace, was in­tro­duced by the DJ and cu­ra­tor as be­ing a sort of dance­able dessert to con­clude his pro­gramme, some­thing that he al­most in­vari­ably ends his episodes with. And who’s the DJ I’m re­fer­ring to? None other than El­ton John. Sir El­ton, to be pre­cise. On Ap­ple Mu­sic’s Beats1 ra­dio chan­nel, that fa­mous mu­si­cian does a weekly episode ti­tled El­ton John’s Rocket Hour. An in­de­fati­ga­ble dis­cov­erer of new mu­sic, his Rocket Hour episodes al­ways have new bands and mu­si­cians, of­ten in­tro­duced with rare nuggets of in­for­ma­tion or a per­sonal touch. But they also delve into the past to un­earth clas­sic gems that you may have heard long back and nearly for­got­ten; or bet­ter still, never heard be­fore. A mix of the old and the new. I heard the 51st episode of his show last week. And, as I write this, I’m wait­ing ea­gerly for the next. For more DOWN­LOAD CEN­TRAL col­umns, log on to hin­dus­tan­times.com/brunch. Write to San­joy at san­joy.narayan@gmail.com.

Fol­low @san­joy­narayan on Twit­ter

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.