When we began thinking about Dishoom Carnaby, we came across a surprising relationship that flourished in the 1960s, when Western influences kicked off a rocking music scene in Bombay. We were drawn in by this cul-de-sac of history and contacted Sidharth Bhatia, the author of the book ‘India Psychedelic’, as well as many musicians from the time. As the project evolved, we felt that an album was the right thing to do: a way to showcase some amazing music, and, like the restaurant, bridge the gap between 1960s London and Bombay.
Here’s the track listing for the full album – and you can read more about it (and how to buy!) here.
Jumpin’ Jack Flash – Ananda Shankar
(M. Jagger / K. Richards) Onward Music Ltd / Westminster Music Ltd / ABKCO Music Ltd. ℗ 1970 WEA International Inc.
A sitar-drenched Rolling Stones cover does not sound like a musical idea with legs. But Shankar takes the song to a whole new place by injecting sheer heat and bravado into the original Jagger/ Richards number. The time he spent in late ’60s California jamming with Hendrix certainly paid off. The nephew of renowned Ravi Shankar, Ananda wanted to break down musical barriers. His brilliant combining of sitar, Moog synthesizer, guitar, bass and drums certainly stomped those barriers down on his cult-classic 1970 self-titled long player which also includes a cover of The Doors’ Light My Fire.
Cissy Strutt – Bill Ravi Harris & The Prophets
(Neville / Nocentelli / Porter / Modeliste) Ardmore Ltd. ℗ 1997 BBE Music
What’s the connection between mystical character Bill Harris and Amy Winehouse? The rumour is that Harris was a teenage funk obsessive who became interested in the sitar. In reality Bill ‘Ravi’ Harris was a pseudonym of Gabriel Roth (aka Bosco Mann).
In 1996 he recorded an album of sitar funk with his band The Prophets. He went on to form the excellent Daptone Records and became the primary songwriter for ace soul band Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings. Roth later won two Grammy awards for producing Amy Winehouse’s acclaimed Back to Black LP, recorded with the Dap-Kings. But the real reason we love this version of The Meters’ Cissy Strut is simply because it makes us get our wiggle on.
The Party (reprise) – Henry Mancini & His Orchestra
(H. Mancini) ℗1968 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment
We included Mancini’s soundtrack to the Blake Edwards film of the same name because it feels so very Dishoom. As a composer of music for film, Mancini is as much a 20th century master of the art as Bernard Herrmann and Ennio Morricone. Apparently he was miffed when it became clear from the audience reaction to the early screenings of The Party that no one was going to be able to hear his soundtrack because of the howling laughter. Despite the crude spectacle of Peter Sellers’ ‘browning up’ for the lead role, the film is one of Sellers’ best, and an absolute riot that Mancini scores beautifully.
Born To Be Wild – The Savages
(M. Bonfire) Universal Music India Pvt. Ltd. ℗1970 Universal Music India Pvt. Ltd.
Not to be confused with the backing band of Screaming Lord Sutch who share the same name, or indeed post-punk outfit Savages, The Savages featured here are very much a rock’n’roll band formed in Bombay in 1965 by Bashir Sheikh. A central act of the then tiny Indian rock scene, they progressed from covering the artists they loved to writing their own songs, and even recording tracks with Asha Puthli. Born To Be Wild is an apt example of the cross-cultural pollination taking place between 1960s western and Indian music – powerful, bold and full of raw rock’n’roll passion.
You Me Bullets Love – The Bombay Royale
(A. Williamson, R. Douglas-Sola, D. Jones, R. Jones, E. Fairlie, J. Bennett, P. Kaur Singh, J. Goyma, T. Martin, M. Hovell, S. Bhattacharya) HopeStreet Recordings/Copyright Control. ℗ 2012 HopeStreet Recordings
Listening to this one track by The Bombay Royale is akin to watching the entirety of 1970s Indian cinema but stuffed into a blistering three-minute punch to the ears. The eleven-piece band specializes in paying tribute to that golden era of Bollywood using their howling organs, epic strings, spaghetti guitar and dynamite horn section to quickly evoke romance, suspense, danger and explosive Technicolor, all packed into a wonderful roller- coaster musical ride.
I Like London In The Rain – Blossom Dearie
(B. Dearie / J. Council) ℗ 1970 Mercury Records Ltd.
Despite what you think about London’s bad weather, there is no denying the sweetness of this cult classic from the American jazz singer Blossom Dearie. Opening with a neat breakbeat that DJs have both pined for and sampled, it is not particularly sophisticated or unusual, but it is immediately engaging and delightfully evocative of a late ‘60s London. You can imagine her hanging out around Carnaby Street, caught out in the rain with contemporaries such as John Lennon and Dusty Springfield…
Get Carter – BB Davis & The Red Orchidstra
Adaption of ‘Get Carter’ written by Roy Budd. EMI Fiest Catalogue Inc (ASCAP) ℗ 2011 Hole in the Wall Recordings and Productions
An eerie but funky sitar-soaked cover of Roy Budd’s original score for the 1971 British film masterpiece Get Carter. You can almost see Michael Caine as a gangster in Bombay ducking down the streets of Churchgate with Britt Ekland.
Ain’t That Peculiar – Peter Ivers Group feat. Asha Puthli
(M. Tarplin / W. Moore / W. Robinson) ℗ 1970 Sony Music Entertainment
The Bombay-born singer and actress Asha Puthli gets straight down to business on this cover of the Marvin Gaye song. Though recorded in 1970 (the story goes that both she and Peter Ivers stripped to their underwear during the recording), the album it was on was shelved by Epic only to reappear in 2009. Puthli’s vocal performance gives a sense of how she was confident and sassy enough to go on to attempt many different styles such as rock, disco, soul and pop. And even to appear nude in the odd movie role.
Usha Uthup – One Two Cha Cha Cha (Sha
(Shalimar OST Version) (Anand Bakshi – Rahul Dev Burman) ℗ 1978 Universal Music India Pvt. Ltd.
The soundtrack to the 1978 jewel stealing caper Shalimar is a much-prized album for crate diggers who appreciated the funkier side of Bollywood. The music was composed (somewhere near his peak) by the prolific R.D. Burman no less. The film is notable as one of the most expensive movies made in India of all time, with a somewhat odd appearance by Rex Harrison, and also as the last time Mohammed Rafi’s voice would grace the big screen. But it is Usha Uthup’s performance of One Two Cha Cha Cha that echoes the spirit of Dishoom best – a song that immediately brings a smile to the faces of regular visitors to the restaurants. The lyrics are far from deep and meaningful, but the sheer charm of Usha’s voice and the cha cha rhythm weave themselves enticingly together making it impossible to ignore.
Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) – Gábor Szabó
(S. Bono) Cotillion Music Inc. ℗ 1966 The Verve Music Group, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.
A beautiful cover of Sonny Bono’s song of loss and despair that was originally released on the jazz label Impulse!. Szabó’s version transcends pop and feels right to bring our Bombay-London ‘60s culture-clash to a close, despite its lack of Indian roots. Sung by the guitarist himself, in his Hungarian-inflected English, the track features Chico Hamilton on drums and Latin percussionist Willie Bobo. It’s another great example of the open-mindedness of artists of that era, who often had a willingness to explore across musical borders.
Track sleevenotes by Rob Wood from Music Concierge – a creative music agency specialising in designing and supervising the sound and music identity of leading restaurants and bars. Together with the Dishoom team, Music Concierge has lovingly developed and curated the sound of Dishoom since the first restaurant opened in 2010.
The sun is momentarily out again. Calendars are fast filling up. There’s many a thing to do and many a friend to meet. And if we may kindly add to the excitement and the plan-making, here’s our list of what we’re looking forward to in September.
While we were at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, we caught Evening Conversations, an engaging show by Sudha Bhuchar. We caught up with her after the show to talk about her journey and her views on South Asian representation on screen, which you can read below. And for those who didn’t walk down the cobbled streets of the city or stumble into an impromptu performance this year, we highly recommend it for 2024.
Each year as August dawns, the streets and rooms and corners of Edinburgh fill with music, art, laughter and song. Wander into grand halls and pokey pubs, as the morning sun rises or in the dark of night, to see creations of every kind as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In honour of this wonderful celebration of the performing arts (and as a little treat), here’s a special edition Dishoom Loves, covering all the acts we’ve circled on our festival programme.
For anyone looking to learn or read more on Partition, this page holds a series of resources, for all ages, created by people knowledgeable and knowing about such matters. It is by no means definitive – we have simply found them to be useful, inspiring and accessible.