Label of Love: Music India
Written by Grace George on 11th October 2019
Brought to you by record collector and DJ Grace George, Label of Love is a new series that tells short histories of music labels & their legacies. For this week’s Label of Love, Grace checks out the sounds of Music India.
When (internet) digging through India’s pre 21st century musical archive, the most commonly found labels are international majors; His Master’s Voice, EMI India, Polydor & Odeon. However, in 1976 Polydor had to pull out of the country & the label Music India was formed, adopting Polydor of India’s catalogue. It operated as a recording studio, a record pressing & cassette duplication plant near Bombay (now Mumbai). The production side shut in 1985 but the label still operates today under Polygram.
Sounds of Music India
The Infinite Fusion Indo-Jazz group & LP was written, led, performed, engineered, mixed & art directed by musician Rajesh. Apart from song-writing for other musicians & an Aid Bhopal single in 1985, “Explorations in Musical Syntheses” appears to be Rajesh’s only album.
Released on single imprint Om Records & manufactured by Music India, the album is a fusion wet dream; Indian traditional sitar & tabla unifying seamlessly with jazz-flute & smoky saxophone, whilst Rajesh’s undulating vocals matching the rhythm of the players.
It’s been a struggle uncovering audio of this album which fetches stupid money on Discogs now, but luckily for us, Rajesh has his own website. He lists his talents which include ‘Sportsman’, ‘Poet’, ‘Restaurateur’, ‘Music Composer’ & Songwriter’ but also provides us with video evidence of his directing skills (with a caveat warning they aren’t 100% in sync due to limited 1980’s technology), exhibiting the wonders of Infinite Fusion to new delighted ears & eyes. You can also send him a message via a Contact Form. I’m still waiting for my response.
THE DRAMA!! Big stars & big bucks in Bollywood, it was a hard decision choosing a favourite track from 1983 Hindi-language film Mahaan, so two have been selected. The film features the mega Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan (who plays three separate characters in the film, a father and his twin sons… skills!), was shot in Nepal to massive crowds (apparently the Temple site which features as the stage for track “Pyar Mein Dil Pe Maar De Goli” was destroyed in an earthquake sadly) and a soundtrack composed by India’s Godfather of movie scores R.D. Burman. Mesmerising to watch & hypnotising to listen.
Nermin Niazi – Sari Sari Raat (from the Disco Se Aagay LP, 1985, Music India)
Teenage siblings Nermin & Feisal Niazi, born in Lahore & brought up between England & Pakistan, created this album out of a love for British New-Wave and the Pakistani musical heritage of their family. Their Grandfather was the director of Radio India before partition, their mother was a famous singer in the 50’s & 60’s & their father was a famous actor in Pakistan. Recorded in a studio with the support of shop & distributor Oriental Star Agencies in Birmingham, “Disco se Aagay” did not receive the credit it truly deserved on release. The beauty & complexity of the Urdu language, Nermin’s ethereal vocals layered upon the pulsing drum machine, is a complex mix of 80’s experimentation & Asian raga. Ironically Nermin now says this song was a nightmare, and the repetition of the lyrics drove her Grandmother mad. Sadly this album also fetches absurd prices on Discogs, but you can listen to Nermin & her brother Feisal discuss making the album on Podcast Lost Notes, a short insight into 80’s British Asian musical heritage. See link below.