facebook.com/Outlookindia twitter.com/outlookindia digimag.outlookindia.com instagram.com/outlookindia youtube.com/user/OutlookMagazine

With Our First Stratocaster

For all who are interested in pop culture, remember JS fondly and especially all independent musicians
India Psychedelic: The Story Of A Rocking Generation
By Sidharth Bhatia
HarperCollins India | Pages: 164 | Rs. 599

I bought my first bass guitar in 1979 for Rs 125, a beat-up Indian guitar with old strings and a very high action. At that time, bad as the instrument was, it was a dream come true. I used to practise with my school band in the music room almost every day after school.

These memories are over three decades old. Thus, it was with great pleasure that I read Sidharth Bhatia’s India Psychede­lic, since it brought about a flood of recollections about my early musician days. This book, however, speaks of the generation before mine, who started playing when I was in my infancy.

Bhatia skilfully identifies the break between the early ‘beat groups’ and the many dance and jazz bands that were around in the early ’60s. He has meticulously tracked down and interviewed hundreds of people who were active in the ‘scene’ back then. I hadn’t even heard of the first bands (Jets, Mustangs, Trojans, Great Bear), let alone heard them perform; so it was all very exciting! JS (Junior Statesman) was very much a part of my growing up, but I was more into  comics and Zeenat Aman posters than the music they documented.

Bhatia lovingly evokes the social milieu of the ’60s and ’70s, and the change as urban teens responded to events in the West, the anti-establishment wave and the music that accompanied it. The struggles with bad instruments, amplifiers, mikes and PA systems that he describes continued well into the ’80s, as I can readily attest to. I loved the story about India’s first Stratocaster! We, too, had a band a couple of years senior to us in school (Electric Plant, who were huge in Delhi from ’78-82) who had fantastic guitars and amps that we envied.

As ’80s kids, we had a strong suspicion—no, belief—that musicians ten years senior to us had led a more exciting life.

The Biddu tale I knew, but Asha Putli’s story was a revelation, as was learning about all the women singers and the incredible journey of staging Jesus Christ Superstar. As kids of the ’80s, we had a strong suspicion—no, belief—that musicians about ten years senior to us had led a way more exciting life than us, and hearing Steve Sequiera’s anecdotes from his JCS days definitely fuelled that feeling. Both Steve and Gussy Rikh, who have multiple mentions in the book, were our idols and concerts by their band Ebony (also featuring Kittu Vaz, Loy Mendonza and a string of bass players, including Carl Peters) were a must attend.

The only band mentioned that I have ever heard live was High, at IIT Delhi in 1981. I still remember Dilip Balakrishnan doing a sound check with an acoustic guitar, singing a song from Pink Floyd’s album Animals. Their concert blew us away. I heard a concert by Waterfront with Derek Julien and Ranjit Barot many years later, but they had transformed into a jazz-rock act.

I would recommend this book to all people who are interested in pop culture, to everyone who remembers JS fondly and especially to all independent musicians. You’ll enjoy it! Howe­ver, it seems as if Bhatia ran out of steam in the book’s last pages, giving the impression that bands petered out with flower power. But, hopefully, he’ll write another book about those of us who survived the disco years with our rocker sensibilities intact.


(Rahul Ram plays bass and sings with Indian Ocean. He has been playing in bands since 1978.)

READ MORE IN:
AUTHORS: Rahul Ram
TAGS: Music
SECTION: Books
SUBSECTION: Reviews
OUTLOOK: 07 April, 2014
Download the Outlook ​Magazines App. Six magazines, wherever you go! Play Store and App Store

Post a Comment

You are not logged in, please Log in or Register
  • Daily Mail
THE LATEST ISSUE
CLICK IMAGE FOR CONTENTS
REVIEW
Excerpts
An exclusive extract from Josy Joseph’s book on Dawood's hold over Indian business and the questionable rise of Jet Airways
MAGAZINE July 21, 2016
The Reviews
A satire on the way the fate wind blows in small towns with no hope.
MAGAZINE July 21, 2016
Review
A novel on the ravages of terrorism fails on account of insipidity
MAGAZINE July 21, 2016
Reviews
Genes define the individual. Siddhartha Mukherjee’s poetic exegesis charts its thrilling discovery and its current significance in ethical medicine.
MAGAZINE July 14, 2016
Review
Lacks the warmth of a memoir, which is a pity, given the choice of subject.
MAGAZINE July 07, 2016
read more>>>
OUTLOOK ON TWITTER
POLLS

The cricket icon is reported to have tried to curry favour with Defence Minister Parrikar for a friend's property adjoining defence land in Mussoorie. Parrikar is said to have declined to help. The recipient of India's top honour is also busy endorsing various products. Is India's legendary batsman insulting the Bharat Ratna, which was given to him after amending rules?

POLL STARTED ON: Jul 19, 2016
Quiz
Ramzan is the month of intense prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting and nightly feasts for millions of Muslims to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad. As the world celebrates Eid al-Fitr to mark the end of Ramzan, take this quiz to find out how well you know it. Eid Mubarak!
QUIZ STARTED ON: Jul 06, 2016