The latest offering by Times Square Records (released on March 7, 2006) is a compilation of Asha Bhosle numbers on a 2-disc album. The singing sensation, Asha Bhosle needs no introduction but yet for protocol sake, I will attempt to do so. Younger sister to the Nightingale of India (Lata Mangeshkar) might be an almost impossible tag to shrug off but Ashaji did just that. Not only did she carve her own niche in singing for “vamps and the bad girls”, but she moved on to lend her versatile voice to soulful numbers [first for O.P. Nayyar] that you normally wouldn’t associate her with.
In later years, she surpassed (in my opinion) her elder sister in pure virtuoso-like manner by expanding her extent of music. In an age when skin-infested videos ruled the roost at the Indi-pop scene, her pop albums like Janam Samjha Karo and Kabhi Toh Nazar Milao (with Adnan Sami) in her inimitable style were the rage of the nation. I bet she is the only grandmother who has recorded songs with Boy George, Code Red, and Michael Stripe leaving them awe-struck at her singing abilities (I can never forget that Channel [V] Awards performance).
Asha Bhosle — Love Supreme is an attempt to introduce this bundle of versatile talent to Western audiences. With interest in Bollywood peaking in America and elsewhere, India’s music industry has caught the attention of people too and of course, who better than Ashaji to lead the charge. This album is packed with 19 Asha numbers on a 2-disc collection. The first CD contains newly-recorded ghazals and the second contains a selection of romantic duets by Ashaji herself. The ghazals are gentle soulful reminders of a music that is enjoyed at leisure and the full range of Ashaji’s voice gives intense depth to the soul of these ghazals. Not an intense fan of ghazals, I listened to them on a tired weekday night as I prepared my dinner. However by the time, I finished with the first CD, I was yearning for more.
The second CD was much more to my taste in music. It refreshed my memories of many golden oldies that you associate with Ashaji. Upbeat, vibrant, and flamboyant — are few epithets you would associate with typical Asha Bhosle numbers but apart from Aaja Aaja Main Hoon Pyar Tera from Teesri Manzil, Ashaji preferred to go for her soulful romantic numbers. Probably they are much dearer to her heart but I would still prefer to present Asha Bhosle in her finest element if she wants to make a lasting impact on Western audiences. With this selection, she may be aiming for the Norah Jones audience and trust me, that is a great strategy but if it were me, I would go for the popular audiences.
Her success on the Indi-pop scene shows that she definitely can do it. When she won the MTV’s Indian Viewers’ Choice Award in 1997, Sheela Raval a journalist described her perfectly – “The high priestress of Bollywood music has gone for an image make-over. At 64. And granny’s looking glamorous. The middle-class Maharashtrian housewife next door is the new pop icon, taking over from the no-holds-barred young breed.” Ibelieve she has done it before and she can definitely do it again.
To conclude, I would definitely recommend going in for Asha Bhosle — Love Supreme purely for its first CD although the second CD ain’t bad either.
Full Disclosure: I was sent this CD for review purposes at Desicritics.