Bollywood Remembers: Laxmikant Pyarelal:

Best of EMI Years

Artist: Laxmikant Pyarelal

Produced by: Times Square Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            Laxmikant Shantaram Kudalkar was born into a poor family in 1937.  Learning to play the mandolin at an early age, he began performing in street functions and later organized and performed in Indian classic music concerts.  Pyarelal Ramprasad Sharma was born in 1940 to renowned trumpeter Ramprasad Sharma who taught him the basics of music.  He went on to learn how to play the violin, performing in studios to earn money for his family.  Brought together by singer Lata Mangeshkar, the duo of Lamikant Pyarelal became popular Bollywood composers, creating music for hundreds of Bollywood movies from 1963 until Lamikantís death in 1998.

            On March 9, 2010, Times Square Records released Bollywood Remembers: Laxmikant Pyarelal: The Best of the EMI Years, a two-CD set celebrating the career of one of the longest lasting and successful Bollywood musical partnerships.  The CD set includes some of their earliest recordings and features some of their greatest hits and some rarities.

            When I received this CD set, I was intrigued.  Prior to this album, the only Bollywood music I had been exposed to was that of Slumdog Millionaire.  But this album promised so much more - three decades worth of music composed for Bollywood films!  I expected quite a diverse group of songs based upon the great diversity of popular music over those decades.  I wasnít disappointed.

            When one thinks of musical composition from India, you might think of music created with an exotic flare using instruments like the sitar.  However, the music of Bollywood is very different.  It was a little surprising to me when I popped the first CD into the player and heard a track very similar in sound to that of blockbuster films made in America.  Yes, there were some tracks which featured some exotic sound using instruments native to the country, but these were intermingled with regular orchestral instruments, creating a sound that was both unique and highly enjoyable.

            It is sometimes difficult to remember that the styles and influences that shape American music often shape music around the world.  Such is the case with the music created by Lakmikant Pyarelal for Bollywood.  There are the great orchestral pieces, the eerie Clint Eastwood western tracks, the disco period and more.  Each is accompanied by lyrics performed by various singers popular at the time the song was created.

            I absolutely loved this album.  The twenty-eight tracks provide such a diverse selection of music created by this composing duo that I was never bored.  Each track offered something new and exciting for the listener.  My only regret is that I donít know the language and therefore could not understand the lyrics for each song.  I love listening to lyrics  - the stories they tell, the hidden meanings behind the words - they interest me greatly and often times Iíll enjoy a song more for the lyrical genius of it rather than the musical composition.  Unfortunately, not understanding the language, I was at a slight disadvantage here - I could recognize the musical genius of the composing team, but had no idea whether the lyrics were any good. 

            Fans of the composing duo of Laxmikant Kudalkar and Pyarelal Sharma will absolutely love this album.  Fans of music, like myself, will find the experience of listening to Bollywood Remembers: Laxmikant Pyarelal: The Best of the EMI Years to be an enlightening and wholly enjoyable experience.


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