1972. Churchgate, Bombay. Late night, low lights. A group of friends is holding court in the bar of a stylish café- restaurant. They are smoking Simla cigarettes and sharing an illicit bottle of Old Monk while discussing the unexpected and soon-to-be-legendary appearance of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page at Slip-Disc, the grungy rock club around the corner from the Taj. Their English is accented but their threads wouldn’t be out of place on Carnaby Street. The jukebox is playing a track by the Stones; for the most part, the singer hits the right notes. Is this Bombay, or London, or somewhere in between?
This album tells the story of two cities brought together by one generation.
It’s the story of two places that might seem worlds apart, but which share a long and complicated history. And, in the ’60s, the young people of London and Bombay found common ground. This generation had no memory of war, the Raj, Independence… They just wanted to let their hair down and find their own groove!
British music had exploded into the minds of young people from the UK to America – but it didn’t stop there. Pretty soon it was even sneaking past the boundaries of strict, stuffy India, and found an eager audience in the youth generation there.
They had the same desire for change and cultural revolution as their counterparts in London… and they couldn’t get enough of the radical new sounds from the west.
By the late ’60s, the ‘beat’ music scene was thriving in cosmopolitan Bombay. Ambitious and resourceful young musicians had taken up whatever instruments they could get hold of and were passionately recreating the awesome new songs they heard. They copied fashions and hairstyles from London magazines, and dreamed of making it big in Europe. The stories they heard from friends in London blew their minds. A city of unprecedented musical and cultural experimentation – what could be better?
Meanwhile, India was revealing just enough to seduce westerners. Poets like Allen Ginsberg and musicians like the Beatles and Led Zep beat a now-familiar path to India – all of them searching for new ways to open their minds spiritually, creatively and, of course, chemically. The influence of their Eastern experiments and explorations would later appear in the popular music that young Indians had developed such a taste for.
The result? A delicious quirk of history in which the musical traditions of the east fired up the pop culture of the west, which was in turn travelling east and bridging the gap between.
This album is not a history lesson, or a statement of fact… it’s a playful celebration of the mutual fascination between London and Bombay that began in the ’60s – and the awesome music that came out of it!
“Fascinating exploration of cultural crossover in the Swinging ’60s” – 8/10 Uncut
“Utterly dancefloor-worthy-with any luck, this will just be the first volume” – ★★★★ Mojo
“an eclectic mix of classics and deep cuts, with killer tunes of both an aged and more recent vintage” – Fact
Jumpin’ Jack Flash – Ananda Shankar
Cissy Strutt – Bill Ravi Harris & The Prophets
The Party (reprise) – Henry Mancini & His Orchestra
Born To Be Wild – The Savages
You Me Bullets Love – The Bombay Royale
I Like London In The Rain – Blossom Dearie
Get Carter – BB Davis & The Red Orchidstra
Ain’t That Peculiar – Peter Ivers Group feat. Asha Puthli
Jaan Pehchan Ho – Mohammed Rafi
Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) – Gábor Szabó
For more info, read the sleevenotes.
And if you’d like to know more about the history of rock music in India, check out Sidharth Bhatia’s excellent book India Psychedelic or watch Red Bull India’s documentary Standing by: The Rise of Beat Music on Youtube.
Coronavirus has blown our world apart, and all Dishooms are currently closed. It feels like the right thing for us to do.
While the restaurants are closed, we offer solace in our cookery book, which is most certainly still available to order. May it bring Dishoom, joy and plenty of Daal to your home. From all of us, with love.