12 x 12: The 12 best Bollywood disco records

12 x 12: The 12 best Bollywood disco records

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The man behind the forthcoming Bombay Disco compilation for Cultures Of Soul, DJ Brother Cleve introduces twelve of the best Bollywood disco records to emerge from the country’s technicolor film scene in the late 70’s and early 80’s.


Words: Brother Cleve


The era of disco dance sequences in South Asian films began in 1979, just as disco’s mainstream popularity was waning in the west. The Easternization of disco followed decades of similar forays into rhumba, swing, rock ‘n roll and funk, featured in “cabaret scenes” staged in elaborate nightclubs. Bengali composer/vocalist Bappi Lahiri was, at age 26, the region’s youngest music director when he hybridized Indian disco, much younger than his middle aged counterparts in the film music industry.

There are a great many soundtracks that contain just one (often outstanding) disco track, but for this list I’ve concentrated on the best overall LP’s in the Bollywood disco canon. You will note that Bappi Lahiri is the artist listed for 10 of the 12 albums here (although every album features a variety of vocalists). Certainly he was hired more often than most for his proficiency as well as his alacrity, and his work covers a broad range of styles.

For further dancing – There are four superb compilations featuring the best one-hit wonders of the day, and these often show up on auction sites: Disco Hits From Hindi Films, Dance Disco Dance (both EMI), Disco Bahar (Polydor) and Disco Dynamite (Music India).


Disco Dancer

Bappi Lahiri
Disco Dancer
(EMI / The Gramophone Company Of India, 1982)

The hit movie that sent South Asia into Disco Fever. Lahiri’s soundtrack hits the dancefloor hard right from the opener ‘I Am A Disco Dancer’, followed by huge tracks like ‘Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja (sampled by M.I.A.)’ and ‘Auva Auva Koi Yahan Nache’, a cool rip of ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’, Desi style.

Listen HERE.


Dance Dance

Bappi Lahiri
Dance Dance
(Super Cassettes T-Series, 1987)

This 2-LP set has more disco bang for your buck than any other Bollywood LP. Lahiri serves up Hi-NRG, reggae, funk, cocktail disco, et al, with lots of cheese that’s magically delicious. Plus he brings South Asian teen singing star Alisha along for good measure.

Listen HERE.


Kasam Paida Karnewala Ki

Bappi Lahiri
Kasam Paida Karnewala Ki
(EMI / The Gramophone Company Of India, 1984)

Another over-the-top shelf Bappi-Da extravaganza, with inspired “Hindizations” of ‘Billie Jean’ and ‘Thriller’ rolled into one incredulous mix. All killer no filler, with wild synths, psych strings, frenetic percussion, and, of course, distorted vocals. Don’t miss the funky slow jam ‘Come Closer’.

Listen HERE.


Wanted

Bappi Lahiri
Wanted
(EMI / The Gramophone Company Of India, 1983)

Bappi was on a roll during the early 80’s, and this soundtrack to the first (and only!) disco-fied Curry Western is nearly as surreal as the film itself. Features one of those rare instrumental “Music” tracks which are always great. Even the ballad is fantastic. See the film (on DVD) and have your mind erased.

Listen HERE.


Karate

Bappi Lahiri
Karate
(EMI / The Gramophone Company Of India, 1983)

Another sensational Brownspoitation flick, scored yet again by the Indian Disco King. The title track has elements that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Arthur Russell/Dinosaur L production, but with waaay too much compression. Overall great disco, cool ballads, Oriental funk and lots and lots of tape echo.

Listen HERE.


Qurbani

Kalyanji Anandji / Biddu
Qurbani
(Polydor Of India, 1979)

A massive hit film that brought British/Asian artist Biddu (“Kung Fu Fighting”, Biddu Orchestra) to the top of the Indian Pops. 15 year old Pakistani pop singer Nazia Hassan (whose follow up was the Biddu-produced Disco Deewane) charmed with the cocktail disco of Aap Jaisa Koi. The Shah brothers, Kalyanji and Anandji, rock the house with the groovy Laila O Laila. An English language version of this album exists as well.

Listen HERE.


Surakksha

Bappi Lahiri
Gunmaster G-9 : Surakksha
(EMI / The Gramophone Company Of India, 1979)

The first Hindi film to feature disco, when Lahiri’s producer told him, “I want music like Saturday Night Fever”. Only 3 disco trax, and one is an instrumental “Music” track. A pleasant soundtrack overall, with lots of dialogue and traditional styled tunes.

Listen HERE.


Armaan

Bappi Lahiri
Armaan
(EMI / The Gramophone Company Of India, 1981)

As the LP cover proclaims : 2 Disco Smash Hits! Top track is perhaps Usha Uthup’s greatest hit – Ramba Ho-Ho-Ho. The LP also contains the bouncy Mere Jaesi Haseena, a song in the Trinidadian/Indian hybrid style known as Chutney.

Listen HERE.


Vidhaata

Kalyanji Anandji
Vidhaata
(EMI / The Gramophone Company Of India, 1982)

2 stellar tracks from this great LP and film : the slo-mo cosmic disco of ‘Udi Baba’, and the tribal big beat epic ‘Pyar Ka Imtihaan’. This LP is in the upper echelon of the Shah brothers productions. (Both tracks appear on Bombay Disco)

Listen HERE.


Maut Ka Saya

Bappi Lahiri
Maut Ka Saya
(EMI / The Gramophone Company Of India, 1982)

Stomping big beats, bubbling sequencers, fuzztone guitars, and phaseshifted combo organ make LP opener ‘Aafat’ massive. This film, a Hindi Creature From The Black Lagoon from horror masters Ramsay Brothers also features the Oriental funk groover ‘Dance Musi’c on a nice clean & loud 45rpm pressing. Both record and film are hard to find.

Listen HERE.


Qaidi

Bappi Lahiri
Qaidi
(EMI / The Gramophone Company Of India, 1984)

The tribal beat hit ‘Bongo Bongo’ is so cool it’s both the opening and closing tracks on this LP (not an uncommon practice at the time). But ‘Jawani Ka Khazana’ has enough dueling sitars, chirping synths, reverberated strings, and Indian percussionists to keep you dancing, and ‘Chandni Raat’ is Electro Raga at its most stunning. If only the mastering wasn’t so shitty.

Listen HERE.


Hum Se Na Jeeta Koi

Bappi Lahiri
Hum Se Na Jeera Koi
(Super Cassettes T-Series, 1982)

‘Disco Disco’, parts 1 & 2, is the reason to own this album. With vocals by Indian disco sensation Sharon Prabhakar, the track features inspired sequencer riffs, vocodered vocals, wah wah guitars, twisted horn lines, and those ’80’s syn-drums. The rest of the album is decent, and the true stereo recording is excellent.

Listen HERE.


Bombay Disco: Disco Hits from Hindi Films 1979-1985 will be released on 4th March via Cultures of Soul. Click here for more info.